Think you know Bourbon? Koval Single Barrel is likely to be the most unique Bourbon you have ever tasted.
Koval is the first small batch distillery in Chicago since the dark days of the prohibition era, and one of the leading craft distilleries in the US. It was founded in 2008 by Robert and Sonat Birnecker who abandoned their academic careers to follow their hearts. Growing up, Robert lived near Salzburg, Austria, and was immersed in a culture of small batch distilling, so perhaps this is destiny. For those of us who love great spirits, it is just good luck for us!
The distillery supports sustainable agriculture and is certified as both organic and kosher—there’ll be no outsourcing for these kids. In eight short years they have expanded their miracle-working to … geez, just about everything from Gin, to Whiskey, to Liqueurs, and a bunch of other fiddly things, all of them professionally crafted and tasty-good. In fact, they are rated as one of the top ten small-batch distilleries in the US.
We just LOVE the smell of innovation in the morning!
If you call yourself a Bourbon fan, you probably know that you can’t call it Bourbon unless you follow a bunch of rules. Fair enough. One of those rules is that Bourbon is at least 51% Corn. The rest is usually a chefs-choice of rye, barley, and wheat. But … the good folks at Koval had their legal team pour over the fine print, and—sure enough—it doesn’t HAVE to be rye, barley, and wheat. As long as you have the corn part right, the rest can be any other grain.
Anyway … Koval starts with corn and then finishes off the mash bill with millet and the result is unlike any other Bourbon we’ve tasted so far with a fruit-forward character that compliments the sweetness of the corn. Everything else is just how you want it … new oak casks, proper aging, etc. Some folks talk a good innovation game, but Koval brings the small-batch and single-barrel goods. If you are not intrigued yet, then someone broke your sense of wonder and we feel sorry for you.
Millet has been used to make distilled spirits in Nepal for more than a century. Traditional Nepalese “Whiskies” made with millet include Tongba (a steeped whiskey-like drink filtered through a special bamboo straw), Raksi (similar to a cross between Gin and Japanese Saki), and Chhaang (similar to beer and made with millet, rice, and/or barley).
6.4/10 (341 votes)
Ratings & Reviews
Member Reviews and Ratings of Koval Single Barrel Bourbon
Tried it in the sample box, my favorite of the three. Still young, need time.
Smooth, taste is a bit flat.
Great taste smooth with a great ending that just kept flavors
Smells sweeter than it tastes. Smoother than I expected with a long finish. I enjoyed it but would not add it to my bar.
Very complex on the nose and taste. Slightly sweet and very smooth. Favorite from the welcome box.
Disappointing. Sweet, with a strangely unpleasant note - like it's trying too hard to be sweet, and has missed the definition of subtlety. Marginally drinkable, but not particularly smooth (though that might be the short aging of bourbon as compared to even low-end Whisky). Will avoid in the future.
Nice long finish, not as sweet as I like but glad to see local products used.
Good flavor and finish
Hints of ban an and honey, oakey
Somewhat smooth, but tastes like it was aged in garbage, which is probably the tobacco. I don't see myself ever tasting this brand again.
With this being my first whiskey to actually try to get a feel for intellectually, I got a little vanilla out of the nose and the taste of oak and tobacco. Otherwise I found it to be quite pleasant, something I might enjoy regularly
Liked Journeyman best of the 3, smoother. Could drink the Koval. Did not like the Few
Loved this box!
I don't know bourbons well as I'm more of a scotch fan, but this is how I want my bourbons to taste. Not too sweet, exactly where I want to be. I'd rate it higher if I knew bourbon better
I work out of state so I was looking forward to getting into my tasting box when I got the chance to come home and I did. I tried the Koval and it was really tasty. I'm not a mixer so I did it straight from the shot glass. 1 I threw back and the other I sipped. Excellent. I'm gone again for about another month but I look forward to testing the others and will make my decision on which I will order. If the other two are as good as the Koval, it would not be a stretch for me to order one of each.
It was very good. My wife who is not a bourbon drinker said it was very smooth.
was not delivered please refund my money and cancel my membership
I enjoyed this spirit. I could definitely taste the white oak. It had a nice smoothness to it. not too girly and not to harsh. I would consider buying more of this, but you're not selling any.
Delightful scents and flavors but one -dimensional
Smooth, usually a rye whiskey drinker. Sold on this one!
Far smoother than credit given prior to tasting. Out of the 3 in the tasting box Few - Journeyman - & Koval - For myself the Koval Takes it! Amazing. However, I will note that I am far from a Drink Cone suer.
It was our favorite. Very smooth and flavorful.
I enjoyed this gem very much! I will definitely be sipping on this again in my near future.
Sooooo unique! You love it or hate it but it's deffinitively different.
Seemed like every other Bourbon, tingly in the mouth, little burn going down
Very rich and smooth flavor. Very aromatic. All around delicious. Will definitely order!!!
Very smooth and not to strong
This was a very pleasant drink with no Ice or water. Very smooth and mild, a little sweet. A little burn on the first couple of sips in the back of the throat but still smooth.
Not bad taste and better then aroma. Smooth finish
Not a bourbon guy. Not too complex. Not enough depth for my taste. But pleasant enough for sipping.
Not my favorite. Too harsh.
Fiery drink with a bit of a bit and a burn. Not the smoothest but will definitely warm you on a cold winter's night.
I am terrible a determining flavors or smells. I am just at 'like it' or 'don't like it' person. The Koval I liked. it makes a good sipping bourbon.
Buck yeah is better
I like this one very well
I'm not a bourbon guy... But these were interesting and OK in small quantities for me.
Smells fruity, middle range in color. Strong tobacco taste. Would try again.
Young but not bad. Beats the more common bourbons with mellow sweetness and a mature finish. Smoother than I thought it would be.
I'd buy it. Yea.
Sweeter than I usually like, but I didn't mind this one at all. The port and fruit flavors were definitely present for me. It was a nice after dinner drink.
Loved this bourbon. Going to be buying a bottle for my home
Fuel oil - rancid odors
Sweet full from beginning to end with a little heat
Pleasantly sweet and smooth but not a lot of depth on my flavor pallet. Not the best but not the worst. Curious what it would taste like after 10 years in a barrel.
This bourbon would be great for cocktails like Old Fashions or Mint Juleps. A little sweet, but pretty smooth. Not a lot of character though when sipped straight.
Definitely wasn't a fan of the Koval. Very young, no complexity. Definitely sweet and fruity up front with an unpleasant alcohol burn (not a good spicy burn) on the back. No flavor on the finish.
Very good! A sweeter flavor. Not too harsh. We really liked this one!
Meh.... average at best
Fruity and piney nose, pepper and smoke on the tongue, clean finish
Oddly sweet. Reminds me of Summer's in my Great Grandmothers kitchen.
A very young bourbon that suffers for it's age. I loved it when I tried the sampler pack, but by the time I purchased a bottle my tastes had changed. Good for beginners.
Literally my favorite bourbon, and I have tried at least 100. Deep, smoky barrel taste with a smooth, pleasant, full finish without the heavy bite. Surprised my favorite would be a newer player out of Chicago, but the bourbon is simply excellent.
I did not like this one. It had a heavy taste of barley or plant.
So good I just ordered a second bottle even though I still have half a bottle left. I am impressed with how smooth this is.
What about the Kentucky thing with bourbon???
Very good, very bourbon...
Millet fills out the rest of the mash, balancing and softening that cut-throat corn. Smoother than many, but definitely still a bourbon
This is an extremely smooth bourbon. It has a really distinctive taste, and the finish has just the right amount of heat. It should interest any bourbon drinker whether they are a long time fan or a recent convert.
Very nice flavor. I'm new to this tasting thing and so far it's been a very pleasant experience
Stunning. The nose kept a strong interest in the drink followed by a great taste.
I received the sample of this in my welcome package and it was intriguing enough to want to try again. Definitely something I want to add to my collection.
I really liked this Bourbon! Very unique with a nice soft & sweet finish!
Unique, smooth, great finish, no burn, a hint of sweetness.
Weird. Nose was strong of caramel and pears. Flavor was sweet and sugary. Not a lot of Depth to this one. Mostly sugar booze. I do want to try it again, but I'm not sure what id do with it.