Booze Review

Revisiting Rogue Dead Guy Whiskey


What you see in the above photo is the bottle of Rogue Dead Guy Whiskey that The Wookie reviewed many moons ago (November 7, 2010 to be exact). Way back then, The Wookie found the 2010-ish iteration of this whisky to be “young and harsh but not without its redeeming qualities”. That version of this whiskey was aged for just over a month. The version that we are reviewing today was aged for around 2 years. That’s quite a bit more time in the barrel, so we went in to this tasting with the hope that there would be a major improvement in the taste of this elixir. Before we get to our impressions of the new, and hopefully improved, Dead Guy Whiskey, let’s talk a bit about the change in packaging…

While there was nothing inherently wrong with the old packaging, it doesn’t hold a candle to the look of the most recent Rogue Dead Guy Whiskey. They stayed with the square shaped bottle (the old version reminded me of Olive Oil bottles that I’ve seen on supermarket shelves), but went with a wider, squatter, and thicker based version which reminds me of the Maker’s Mark Bourbon bottle.

In addition to the new bottle shape, they also changed (and vastly improved!) the bottle stopper, and cleaned up the graphics. It’s the same old Dead Guy, but this time around it’s much bigger and painted on the back of the bottle.

The new bottle shape, stopper, and painted on graphics make for a classy and highly attractive bit of packaging that would definitely get our attention on the liquor store or backbar shelves. LimpD (the self-appointed King of Pretty, Shiny Packaging) was particularly enamored with the bottle stopper and said that it reminded him of the Blanton’s bottle stoppers which are oh so pretty and collectible. He also said that incorporating a pourer into the bottle stopper would take things to the next level. Picture it. Pop the top on the Dead Guy’s cap and “BOOM!”, an easy to use pourer.

Now that we’ve talked a bit about this whiskey’s lovely and HIGHLY improved packaging, let’s get down to the subject at hand, a review of the actual Dead Guy Whiskey…

What THEY say…

Dead Guy Whiskey has a fresh orange citrus aroma with a delicately sweet, rich malt complex and a clean vanilla finish. It is distilled from the same malts as Rogue’s Platinum medal-winning Dead Guy Ale, including the Rogue Farms Dare™ & Risk™ Malts grown on the Rogue Barley Farm in Oregon’s Tygh Valley. Dead Guy Whiskey is Ocean-aged by both the Pacific Ocean and nearby Yaquina Bay.

Ingredients: 2-Row, Maier Munich, C15 & Rogue Farms Dare™ and Risk™ Malts; Distiller’s Yeast & Free Range Coastal Water.

What WE say…

  • Appearance: Clover honey color.
  • ABV: 40%
  • AromaG-LO: Light and fruity on the nose with a good bit of herbal notes coming through along with green apple, cinnamon, eucalyptus, a touch of molasses, and some vanilla.
    • LimpD: Lots of sweetness. Minimal astringency. Orange. Toffee. Vanilla. A little oil. Hints of leather and mint.
  • TasteG-LO: Medium mouthfeel with a touch of oiliness. Cinnamony spiciness at the start. Some nuttiness coming through in the middle (I’m thinking hazelnuts) with lightly spiced apple. Gets a little dry at the finish with some herbal notes coming through along with some lingering cinnamon spice.
    • LimpD: All of the aroma falls away. Very woody with a leathery harshness upfront, then very muted peppery notes and some nuttiness with a charred wood and polish (finish that ends rather abruptly.

The Verdict

G-LO: I recall not caring for this all that much way back in the early aughts or early teens of this century. I remember it being a little rough and lacking in depth and/or maturity. Talk about a turnaround! While not the type of whisky that’ll blow you away, Rogue’s Dead Guy Whiskey definitely deserves the “Most Improved Whiskey” award. It has a nice balance of flavors and goes down very easy. Overall, a nice spirit that probably plays really well in cocktails.

LimpD: In case you couldn’t tell from my tasting notes, I didn’t really care for Rogue’s Dead Guy Whiskey. I like the way it smells, but found that the flavors were lacking. When G-LO mentioned that he thought this whisky would work well in a cocktail, he hopped to and got busy behind the bar. He muddled me up an Old Fashioned lickety split that looked EXACTLY like this…

Well well well! G-LO made quite the hokey pokey with this whiskey! All of the flavors that I found to be a bit too much when I drank it straight were turned all around when sipped in cocktail form. The turbinado sugar, Luxardo Maraschino Cherry, and Angostura Orange Bitters that he used to make this Old Fashioned rounded out the rougher edges and made for a delicious and easy drinking cocktail. This concoction was “Yummy yummy in my tummy!”. Or whatever it is that the kids say these days.

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Many thanks to Rogue Ales and Spirits for sending us this very generous sample!

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