Distillery: Flying Ace
Type & Region: New Make, Virginia, USA
Composition: 75% bloody red butcher corn, 20% wheat, 5% barley
Aged: 0 seconds
From the company website:
“Our White Dog is a three grain whiskey proudly highlighting our Bloody Butcher corn. Dark red in color, bold in flavor, this heirloom variety is farm grown, harvested and milled onsite. Crafted with malted barley and wheat, the combination creates a grain forward head with lingering undertones of banana bread and kettle corn. White Dog is pure in form, proofed down and bottled right off the still. Enjoy our whiskey as it begins its journey to becoming our farm to bottle bourbon.”
Flying Ace is a new brewery and distillery out in Loudon County, Virginia, close to the West Virginia and Maryland borders, that opened up in April 2021. As of mid-2021, the brewery and distillery are up and running, meaning there’s delicious beer to drink (thumbs up to the pilsner) and homemade distillate to be sold and aged. This brings us to this review of Flying Ace White Dog, their new make made from 70% bloody butcher corn grown on site, and wheat and barley from elsewhere. This corn is very unique, and you can learn more about it here.
Let’s take a short detour into corn. Bloody butcher corn is an heirloom corn variety that used to grow in Virginia among other places, and is called that because the kernels have a blood-like red color, while the corn you usually see is yellow or white. For a number of factors, including commercialization and efficiency, heirloom corn types were replaced with other types of faster growing and higher-yielding corn. Flying Ace has taken it upon themselves to grow bloody butcher corn on their sizeable plot and use that unique grain for their whiskey, food, and even as a lingering byproduct in the pipes for beer (the beer is delicious by the way).
Since bourbon takes a while to age, Flying Ace has also released their homemade distillate for everyone to try, which is quite rare for any distillery to do these days. This is a pretty interesting approach, so let’s find out what the initial white dog is like in this Flying Ace White Dog review.
Thank you to Hadi for inviting me out to check out the grounds and sample the beer and whiskey. I purchased my own bottle of the white dog, so all opinions are still my own.
I actually think that Flying Ace White dog is quite fragrant, although not in the traditional bourbon sense. It has really nice malted and sweet corn scents, and slight earthiness and grassiness like plant stalks. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not necessarily all that complex, but I’m so drawn to how fragrant and fresh that corn smells, and it still holds up well at 40% ABV. You could even say it smells more like sake than pre-whiskey.
Swirling brings out more of these fragrant, fresh, and pure scents, for a lack of a better term. It’s just sweet corn, a minerality that’s sort of like fresh water, and an earthiness almost like stone. It all sounds weird, but it also has a clean and fresh spring water vibe that sounds bad for white dog, but I swear that’s a good thing. I can’t stop smelling it. The 70% bloody red butcher corn is really the star, as I don’t get much of the secondary wheat or barley. At 40% ABV, the scents are not aggressive at all, which was probably the right move when it’s being sold to a broader audience, not just a whiskey nerd like myself who wants to be abused by the higher ABV. 40% ABV new make sounds like a recipe for disaster, but it’s far from it with Flying Ace White Dog.
Flying Ace White Dog again has this really nice and sweet mashed corn flavor with a slightly bitter earthiness and grassiness, as well as this bright and gentle minerality. Again, it’s not that complex, but I still find it oddly interesting and refreshing to taste. After “chewing” I taste fresh and pure mashed corn / creamed corn-like flavors that are a little sweet, minerality that you sometimes get in bottle water, hint of earthiness and grassiness possibly from the secondary grains, and virtually no heat. In a lot of ways, this tastes like biting in a fresh and juicy corn on the cob. At 40%, it’s super easy to drink, yet oddly enjoyable for me as well, aided by the nicely round viscosity. It’s not that complex or really anything like bourbon, but I like drinking this nonetheless.
On the finish, a lightly corn sweetness and minerality linger. After “chewing”, that pureness and light corn flavor carry-on, but I also get potato. It sort of makes sense given how neutral and pure potatoes can be, but I also recognize that it’s a little strange to have gotten that. This slight earthiness may come from the wheat and/ or barley. The finish isn’t particularly noteworthy, but this is a clear spirit so it’s not a big deal.
I like moonshine, and Flying Ace’s White Dog is another one that I enjoy drinking. Even though I’ve had this a few times, I still struggle to fully describe why I like it. First off, since it’s “only” 40% ABV, it’s not going to beat you up, so it’s quite approachable if you’re a bourbon lover (I bet the white dog straight off the still is awesome too). Second, the corn is just so pure, fragrant, interesting, and might I even say refined. Sure, it’s not something I’d want every day, but it hints at a lot of future promise that lies in the hands (staves?) of the oak barrels and rickhouses. This could become a great bourbon, we all just have to wait a few years to taste the initial finished product. I’m patiently waiting for what’s to come.
If you’re interested in what Virginia craft spirits have to offer and you like white dog, Flying Ace White Dog is one to try. If you don’t like white dog but do like spirits, maybe try it before you buy it because you might be surprised. Regardless, Flying Ace is a fun place to visit to eat, drink, relax, and listen to music…and I think Flying Ace White Dog will pleasantly surprise you too.