Previously, we’ve reviewed Banker’s Club Scotch Whisky and we were pleasantly surprised. Nothing to write home about, but considering the dirt-cheap price point, the quality was surprisingly adequate. So today I’m diving back into the bottom shelf and checking out their American Whiskey offering.
Laird & Company claims to be the oldest distiller in the country, and can trace their heritage back to 1698. That year, Alexander Laird landed in what would become New Jersey from Scotland, where he had been a distiller, and he continued his work in the colonies by making his Apple Jack brandy. The original distillery was founded in 1717, located behind the Colt’s Neck Inn in Monmouth, and it became so popular that reportedly even George Washington was writing the family to ask about their recipe.
That original distillery burned down in 1849, but a replacement was built by Robert Laird in Scobeyville (where it remains to this day). The family kept the distillery closed during prohibition, producing other apple-related products like applesauce to make ends meet, and eventually they were granted a license by the government to produce medicinal apple brandy in 1933.
Once prohibition ended, the family was in a great position to restart operations and business flourished. They expanded their business by purchasing two additional distilleries, one in Virginia and one in North Carolina.
The Laird family remains in control of the family owned business, which is currently run by Larrie W. Laird.
As for the Banker’s Club brand itself, there’s no indication of where that name came from.
The label on this thing almost adds more mystery than it removes.
First and foremost, this is 80% neutral grain alcohol. Just like with Old Crow or Ancient Age, this bottle is mostly made up of filler. In fact, you could make an argument that this is a flavored vodka instead of a blended whiskey.
As for the remainder of the volume, this claims to be a blend of straight whiskey that has been aged a minimum of three years prior to bottling. There’s no indication of where these whiskies came from or how they were produced, so it’s likely a factory-made mass production run that they bought and added to their neutral grain spirits.
Just like the Scotch Whiskey version, this is apparently only sold in 1 litre and 1.75 litre versions — which, as I noted previously, is typically an indicator of quantity over quality and never a promising start.
The bottle itself is a round non-descript plastic container. There’s a bit of a gripping area molded into the body, and a medium length neck that’s topped with a built-in pourer to keep the whiskey from coming out too fast. This feature is prominently touted on the label — which makes you wonder about the quality of the spirit when the built-in pourer is the real feature trying to sell you the bottle.
The label on the front is a yellowed paper that covers pretty much the whole face of the bottle. There’s an illustration of colored ribbon at the top with a gold horse head medal in the center and, in general, a faux-antique/ornate vibe that isn’t fooling anyone.
The whole thing is topped with a plastic screw-on cap.
The spirit smells very heavily of rubbing alcohol, but without the bitterant that’s required to keep people from drinking it. There’s a tiny hint of some flavor in the background, maybe some brown sugar and caramel, but it’s so overpowered as to be almost nonexistent.
I tried an old trick where you rub some of the whiskey between your hands to try and bring out some of the more subtle components, but it still just smelled like I was at the doctor’s office.
Taking a sip, I’m actually surprised how much flavor is in here. I’m not saying that like it blows my socks off — quite the opposite — but it’s not nearly as bad as I first expected. I do actually get some caramel and vanilla notes at the beginning of the experience, which last for a good bit, but it fades as the bitter aftertaste starts to take hold. That bitterness is present long after the liquid is gone and pretty much spoils anything good I had to say originally.
Typically, the addition of some ice removes the less pleasant aspects of a spirit and tones down the louder flavors. It’s sometimes a benefit, and sometimes a curse. In this case, it’s more like a nuclear explosion of blandness.
There’s literally nothing left. The flavor profile is completely destroyed, and it’s like I’m drinking chilled vodka. Except I think the vodka has more flavor than this. It’s a desolate wasteland of flavor. But at least the bitterness has faded, I suppose.
Cocktail (Old Fashioned)
Do you like drinking straight bitters? Good! Because that’s all you’re getting here.
The ice wiped out all the flavor of the whiskey itself, so there’s nothing left for the bitters to interact with. It’s like showing up for a football match only to learn that the other side decided to stay home and watch Netflix instead. Bitter disappointment. (Pun intended.)
We normally make a Kentucky Mule for this test, and technically I suppose that’s what this is, seeing as the spirit used for a base is whiskey and not vodka. But considering how bland this is, it might as well be just plain old Moscow Mule.
There’s no longer any flavor or distinctiveness that the spirit brings to the party, no caramel flavor balancing with the ginger beer and no rye peppery spice to add some complexity. It’s just ginger beer that will give you a bit of a buzz.
There’s no greater sin than being boring. Heck, if that bitterness had persisted throughout the evaluation, then at least I would have something to talk about. Sadly for my writing and my taste buds, though, this is a study in blandness.
Unlike the Scotch version, there’s no redeeming this bottle. Even it’s low price point can’t save it – heck, I don’t think I could be bribed to drink this one again, let alone pay $1 for it.
|Banker's Club Blended Whiskey|
Produced By: Banker's ClubOwned By: Laird & Company
Production Location: United States
Classification: Blended Whiskey
Aging: No Age Statement (NAS)
Proof: 40% ABV
Price: $6 / 750 ml
Overall Rating: 1/5
It isn’t blatantly offensive. Which might be high praise for this bottle.