An unconventional new hand-crafted bourbon, Whiskey Thief, has been launched in the UK by distributor Amathus, aimed at a 20-something demographic.
It has been developed at the MGP Distillery in Lawrenceburg, Indiana, in a collaboration with Stacey Thomas, the owner of north London music venue and whiskey mecca The Lexington, and Roy Evans who, as UK manager for the Sazerac Company, led the launch of Buffalo Trace bourbon in the UK.
Combining traditional methods with innovation, Whiskey Thief is matured in new charred American oak barrels but with oak inserts added to accentuate the core flavours and temper the alcohol bite. Just 80 barrels were made for the first batch, bottled at 40% ABV.
Roy, who started developing the new brand with Stacey in 2011, said: “We wanted to create a bourbon that felt both modern and authentic, and that would really have a great hook for modern consumers.
“They want to drink a cool brand that tastes great and fits into their lifestyle. They use modern brands for everything else, so why aren’t they drinking a modern brand of bourbon?”
In contrast to the motifs and themes around tradition that normally accompany bourbon branding, Whiskey Thief has distinctive mask-style labelling with contemporary typography and bold colours.
The brand is described as “a modern yet authentic premium-quality bourbon that’s aimed at a 20-something demographic who are eager to experience something new”. In retail, it will have a recommended retail price of £24.99 for a 70cl bottle.
Roy and Stacey worked for two years on developing the right taste profile with MGP Distillery, which has over 160 years of whiskey-making heritage.
“Over the years, we’ve tasted hundreds of bourbons with thousands of consumers, ranging from fanatics to people who rarely drink it,” Roy explained. “Their opinions have helped us to identify a taste profile for Whiskey Thief which is a perfect fit for our target market. We’re also very confident that it will excel in blind-tasting sessions.
“Our tasting sessions and research indicated that combining two distinctly different distillates resulted in a more rounded flavour profile. Once filled into new, charred American oak barrels we then inserted especially developed oak inserts to accentuate core flavours while also tempering the alcohol bite.
“By increasing the liquid contact with the oak and by charring the inserts to specifically defined temperatures, we have been able to accelerate the ageing process to achieve a smoother, more complex taste.
“Our yield is much lower than a standard bourbon as the inserts absorb some of the liquid, but the taste experience makes this a worthy sacrifice. The result is that the wonderfully unique Whiskey Thief possesses a mature and truly well-rounded flavour.”
With a pleasant sweetness, the whiskey has an undercurrent of fruit spice and delicate vanilla and mocha notes, making it a smooth drink suitable for sipping.
Distributed by Amathus, Whiskey Thief is being launched at The Lexington but will be sold and promoted at music venues, specialist bars, independent retailers and selected events. It will be supported by extensive social media campaigns