Toronto Whisky Society were privileged enough to be sent bottles and samples of Do Good distilleries offerings. We’d like to start out by thanking Do Good for these samples, and for being patient while we waited for someone to legally bring them back from the US.
Do Good Distillery is built upon the ideal of making unique, wonderful craft spirits. Their emphasis is on whisky. They use local ingredients as much as possible, and give back to their local community: Thus, to quote Ben Franklin (which is on all of their bottles), they “Do Well by Doing Good”.
The distillery is family owned. Jim Harrelson, one of the founders, became interested in making whisky while talking to his brother-in-law, Paul Katuszonek (gesunheit), about craft whiskies. He then found parallels between making good beer and making good whisky. Thus this thought became the driving principle behind Do Good’s unique whisky line-up.
Sadly Paul has passed away since then. As a memorial to him and a thank you for his initial help, Paul’s face shows up on all of the corks.
The distillery is grain to glass. Nothing is sourced, they mill their own grain, do a double fermentation, and then use a variety of barrels.
We were sent: Cherry Wood Smoked, Beechwood Smoked, Peat Smoked, and Benevolent Czar. The first three are, as you would imagine, malted barley smoked with different agents. The last whisky is supposed to be inspired by dark and sweet beers, so one of our members has guessed they may have used more heavily roasted barley (sometimes called chocolate malt) instead of the typical unroasted barley.
Up first, here are the reviews for Do Good Cherry Wood Smoked whisky.
Price: $51.49 USD at The Liquour Store & Wine Loft in Jackson Hole
Abv: 45.55% (91.1 proof, as a shout out to emergency responders)
- Appearance: 1.1, Burnished
- Nose: I get cherry cough syrup, buckley’s, cardboard, brown sugar, and black tea. It is distinctively soapy and waxy.
- Taste: Cardboard, dill, golden syrup, savory herbal, hint of lapsang souchong, earthy. I get a hint of a barnyard floor vibe.
- Finish: A hint of mint, lingering sweet white fruits, but fades fairly quickly. Short.
- Nose: Malt, floral scents, lemon.
- Palate: Apples, brown sugar, creamy oranges, mild red berries. honey, spice, black pepper, and a cinnamon that transitions into the finish.
- Finish: mild spices, and a faint smoke.
- Conclusion: Interestingly scotch-like but with a unique profile. It offers a nice depth with the berries, and brown sugar… and a richness that was lacking in the Beechwood. Pleasant and rather atypical for an American whisky!
Colour: 7.5YR 7/6
Nose: Cherry, peach, grape, corn, light brown sugar, pot pourri, banana
The closest thing I can compare this one to is if you had a sherry casked Lowland with more balls and maybe some American influence.
So far the best nose of the bunch. I really do enjoy it. That said, remember that I really enjoy Lowland malts, so your mileage may vary. Also how much you like it.
Palate: Cherry, pepper, molasses, simple syrup, palm
Taste still has that cherry aspect to it, however the youth comes out here more. Good mouthfeel, but lighter notes again. The brown sugar aspect plays itself up quite a bit.
Given time there’s a nice plum flavour that lingers on the outside of the dram.
Finish: Rye spice, almond/cherry, grape juice, funk
Surprising spice finish that I wasn’t expecting. Lots of grape juice in the finish too.
Like I said above, the funk aspect here will eventually add an interesting angle when combined with age. For now? Not doing it many favours.
Conclusion: Quite a nice dram, and probably the one I’d recommend you pickup from this distillery. This has mirrored a nice sherry dram from the Lowlands without losing much.
I should add: It’s like a Lowland due to the floral aspects as well as the fruit notes. I know some people read Lowland and run: I’d say try this one instead. The cherrywood has done it better.
I’d even go so far to say Auchentoshan should take notes and maybe import in some logs for their malt.
- Appearance: lighter than the beechwood. Similarly nice legs.
- Nose: VERY different nose. This smells more like a classic single malt. Less wood on the nose too, which makes me think it maybe wasn’t in virgin oak, probably refill bourbon cask. Some oak and vanilla, light fruit, apples, bready malt, stewed pears.
- Palate: very malt forward flavour. Creamy body. Vegetal notes from the malt, spicy, white pepper, apricots, apples, grassy, almost an anise note in there. Very faint smoke. ABV tastes a bit lower than it actually is.. More like 40%
- Finish: longer, creamy, smoky and slight wood spice and bitterness.
- Score: 82/100
Conclusion: If I didn’t know what this was when drinking it, I’d probably guess a young/NAS highland malt, and it would stack up alright against those too. This one is quite a bit nicer than the beechwood, and while it still tastes youthful, could be a phenomenal dram given a few more years in a barrel.
- Nose: on the lighter side, no heavy ethanol notes some smokiness and wood, vanilla, pepper, lemon zest, little bit of chocolate, leather
- Palate:Warm, smokey, heavy of the chocolate, meaty, grain, tobacco, saw dust, cinnamon
- Finish: Odd notes on the finish, dry, oak, some unique woodiness/smoke, BBQ, grains, tobacco
Conclusion: Really odd profile, unique and novel to say the least. This would be incredibly fun to play around in cocktails with, but not a bad sipper. Oddly, would have guessed the proof was far lower from the taste, mild in terms of bite and nose.
- Nose: Very light smoke, raspberry, honey, green wood, a bit of spice.
- Palate: Very mild. Honey, malt, wood, grass, a bit of smoke, pears, toffee.
- Finish: Medium. Oak and very faint smoke.
- Conclusion: The flavours here were pleasant but pretty mild. In particular I wish the smoke influence was a bit stronger as I found it to be nice but very soft. This is my second favourite of the bunch and, like with most of these, I think this is a really good start and am curious how this turns out after a few more years.
Second we have the Do Good Beechwood Smoked whisky:
Price: $51.49 USD at The Liquour Store & Wine Loft in Jackson Hole
- Appearance: 1.4, Tawny
- Nose: A lot more earthy than the cherry wood, cardboard again, herbal, pu’erh tea.
- Taste: Sweet and syrupy, cardboard, cranberries, barnyard floor again, almost hay-like, sweetened pu’erh tea.
- Finish: Fades rapidly, almost nonexistent, some lingering golden syrup and sweetness.
- Nose: Youthful and spirity with a nice vitality. Promising. Wheat, grass, hay and earth, orange zest, wood, and vanilla.
- Palate: A young flavour with popcorn, honey, vanilla, and burnt corn.
- Finish: Alcohol burn, mild tar-like smoke, more popcorn.
- Conclusion: Light and hot. The interesting flavours are overshadowed by the heat.
Colour: 10YR 6/8
Nose: Light wood, apple, rubbing alcohol, birch syrup, peach, lime zest
Light nose, however as I’ve said before, I find craft distilleries tend to tone down their first malts to hide some of the youth. There’s still some rubbing alcohol here, but given time it eventually subsides.
If you’ve never had the chance to try the Canadian hipster maple syrup that is birch syrup, I’ll explain it like this: It’s drier, less sweet, and more “moorish” than maple syrup. Keep that in mind, as it’ll come up.
Taste: Birch syrup, floral, sour apple, banana syrup
Floral, sour, and dry. Light on the taste. Good mouthfeel, but sour and floral are the main aspects. It can be a little bit rough.
Birch syrup is the main note I get over and over. The dry, sweet but not overly sweet note.
Finish: Lime zest, wood, tonic water, sand, caramel, macadamia nuts
Dry. Very dry finish. Like gin and tonics? Then this may be for you. I’m not the biggest fan, personally. Lots of lime here as well. Finish was more flavourful than the taste, however it’s short.
Conclusion: This does not fit into my personal wheelhouse. Let’s be clear on that. It’s mostly sour, dry, and not too sweet. It falls closer to smooth drams than others.
Let’s put that aside for a second though. Instead let’s state this needs more time. I think the Beechwood smoke could eventually make for an interesting dram. However versus Peat, which can make a younger malt taste interesting quicker, I think Beechwood needs time. Or maybe not. Honestly this is the first and only one I’ve had.
Wait, do I need to say only there?
Let’s stay on topic.
What I’m saying is I feel this deserves another try after some years. For now? If you’re a fan of German beer, then try it. I’m not, so I’m going to buy other things.
- Appearance: quite dark. I’m guessing natural colour out of virgin oak.
- Nose: lots of wood on the nose, and some of the green woodiness I tend to get when the spirit/wood ratio was thrown off by using small barrels. Cedar. Wood spice. Cinnamon, nutmeg. Slightest hint of smoke.
- Palate: wood-forward. Cedar stain. Tastes like virgin oak. More cinnamon, pepper. It has a really interesting sweet note reminiscent of a candy I just can’t place. Some vegetal notes. Mild bbq sauce. Interesting.
- Finish: medium length, woody and that cedar stain note sticks around. Vegetal.
Conclusion: It has some really interesting notes that I enjoy, but the finish isn’t the best. I definitely would love to find out what size barrels this was aged in, as it tastes like small 15-25gal barrel influence.
- Nose: Light on nose, oak, wood, saw dust, orange, caramel, berries.
- Palate: Drying in mouth, wood, oak, saw dust, vanilla, pepper, nice bit of heat.
- Finish: On the shorter side, lots of wood, oak and sawdust, licorice reminds me of some virgin oak matured whiskies.
Conclusion: Shorter finish and dominant wood profile made this one less up my alley than the cherrywood.
- Nose: Green wood, play-doh, pine needles, pepper, fruity sweetness, wood smoke, caramel
- Palate: Mild and woody. Barley sugar, berry like fruitiness, oak, pepper, nutmeg. I find this to be pretty hot for under 46%.
- Finish: Short-Medium. Very woody.
- Overall: I found the notes in this one to be very cask driven. The flavours were stronger than the other 91 proof bottles but I found this to be due to the heavy wood influence which hid the spirit more than the others with the smoke still very mild. Overall this was my least favourite of the four as it tasted quite youthful and was a little hot for the proof.
Third we have the Do Good Peat Smoked whisky.
Price: $51.49 USD at The Liquour Store & Wine Loft in Jackson Hole
- Appearance: 1.2, Chestnut
- Nose: Chypre, malty, resinous. Rather closed, even with time and water it isn’t revealing itself.
- Taste: Mellow, rich, stewed plums, some grassy vegetal notes, brown sugar, wildflower honey, herbal. Really rich and quite complex.
- Finish: Once again, there is cardboard, and it’s also earthy with some minty sweet notes towards the end. Medium length.
- Nose: A lovely green apple Jollyrancher scent, wood, malt, and hay. Mild peat smoke.
- Palate: Apples, figs, honey, light peat, candy apples, grapefruit, mild smoke.
- Finish: Oregano, general spices, hay, apples, distant smoke.
- Conclusion: My favorite of the four spirits I got to sample. Lovely flavors, just in need of more oomph. It’s very light, one could drink this in the summer on a hot day which is fascinating for a peated whisky. This is teaming with potential. Increase the intensity of flavour here (but keep the balance) and I’d really be excited. A little too spirit dominated, but very intriguing and tasty. A pleasant surprise and a unique experience.
Colour: 5Y 7/6
Nose: Brown sugar, soft peat, cocoa, pear, pepper steak, peanut
The initial thought when I was going to have this was “It’ll be like an Islay”. However that was very wrong. Don’t worry, I sufficiently punished myself for that mistake.
No, rather this is closer to a peated highland on the nose. There’s not brine here. It’s a softer peat, more earth forward. Nice nose, just as good as the cherrywood above.
Taste: Peat, tobacco, mint, caramel, basil, olive oil
Really nice taste. We see what people in Scotland know the best: Peat can balance out a young dram. Here it is evident.
As many of you know, I’m not the biggest tobacco fan. Please keep that in mind when reading my score.
Finish: Mint, marzipan, smoke, butterscotch, vegetal, earth
Finish is quite earth forward. Again, don’t think of an Islay, more so think of a Glen Garioch from the 90s. Or if you aren’t a snob like me and have never had that, think of no brine and more earth.
I won’t lie, the earth does take over as time goes. The youth is finally evident on this dram at the end. Peat can only carry something so far. The mint and dark sugar notes do nicely, and I can see why they used the casks they did for it.
Conclusion: A really well put together dram, I think this one describes the distillery better than all the others. We have innovative techniques that make an interesting dram. Spice shows up from the ex-rye casks, rum casks are used well to hide a rougher finish, and peat carries it.
Another one to pick up, if you’re in the market. It also gives a different view of peat versus what’s currently on the market.
- Appearance: mid-way between the beech and cherry wood colours. Nice thick legs.
- Nose: the peat is up front on the nose, and has an iodiney note. Very medicinal, reminiscent of some Ardbegs and Laphroaigs. Some ashiness too. Sweet apple notes, and a sugary note that I can’t place.
- Palate: that is interesting. The body is very light, and the peat is sweet and well rounded.less smoky than the nose. chocolate, pepper, caramel. somewhat drying. There’s that interesting sweet note again… k I just read the description online and it’s finished in rum casks, which is probably what I’m smelling and tasting that’s so sweet. It does have a decent woodiness to it, but some of it tastes like small barrels again. Description says ex-rye and then their rum barrels… so maybe it’s the latter that give the cedary, green wood taste. I like it a lot better than the other peated american whiskies I’ve tried, but it feels a bit disjointed.
- Finish: medium length, smoky, cedary
Conclusion: Overall, a decent lightly peated dram. The nose is the best part and the palate delivers on some aspects and confuses on others. It’s not going to compete with long-standing Islay drams, but it holds its own against other American peated whiskies, so that’s something.
- Nose: Play-doh again, drier, mild peat, wood notes, earthiness
- Palate: Lighter, peat, tar, pine, apples, leather, tobacco, vanilla, honey, grassy
- Finish Medium to short, mild peat, oak, vanilla, apples chocolate, soft.
Conclusion: Unlike some other peated American whiskies, this was on the mild side for peat influence. A little light for my personal preferences, but certainly unique. Wish it was a little more flavorful, but I liked what was here. This would be another that would be great for cocktails, and certainly has potential with more aging.
- Nose: A mild nose. Sawdust, honey-like sweetness, some green apple, fresh cut wood, very mild smoke.
- Palate: Mild again. Apple, earthy, light honey, some hay.
- Finish: Medium. Earthy, cherries, oak, soft peat.
- Overall: Mild notes again. Peat is present but not dominant and, like the cherry smoked, I think I’d actually prefer a stronger smoke presence. Again think this is a good start and am really interested to see how some additional time in the cask will change this whisky as the peat is already pretty mild.
And finally, we have the Do Good Benevolent Czar:
Price: $49.49 USD at The Liquour Store & Wine Loft in Jackson Hole
Age: 1 3/4 years
- Appearance: 1.6, Mahogany
- Nose: Quite malty and grainy, molasses, oranges, cardboard.
- Taste: Cardboard, dill, barnyard, orange liqueur, cigars and tobacco, caramel, black cherries.
- Finish: Musty, barnyard, some astringent spices and herbal notes (clove maybe, and possibly parsley?), rum-like.
- Nose: Cherry, pineapple, apple, rubber.
- Palate: Condensed and quickly fleeting apples, pears, vanilla, dark chocolate.
- Finish: Grainy notes of burnt popcorn, puffed wheat, burt rice, and quinoa. Instant coffee and coffee liqueur.
- Conclusion: Hot and fleeting. Big flavors that just don’t stick around.
Colour: 7.5YR 8/8
Nose: Butter, roses, strawberry vodka, cotton candy, angel food cake, mint
So when handing some of this out to other members, one of the sample bottles leaked. So while working I spent my day enjoyed the butter note. Given how much I bake, I think what they describe as chocolate notes I have as baking/butter notes.
There are some rough notes here, which isn’t a surprise as it’s young. However there’s also a really nice sweet, red fruit flavour.
Taste: Strawberry dust, butter, wood, funk, coffee/chocolate
This needs time. Water wasn’t as helpful, but time was very, very helpful. It eventually brings out the notes they wanted to emulate from the stout. While the cask strength helps, you gotta dig for it.
There is some funk here, which eventually will be a good part of the dram. For now it has a fish note to it that I’m not loving.
Finish: Pepper, rock candy, overripe banana, mineral, hot, wood
Finish is indicative of a young, hot dram. That doesn’t mean there’s nothing to enjoy, but look for raw notes here. It’s quite hot, and young.
I feel eventually this will round out with some fruit notes and the sweets can go a long way.
Conclusion: This is interesting to drink because while it has some raw, rough notes, but it also plays the whole chocolate/fruits/baked sweets really well, especially given the young age.
I’d say this is one to watch. While I enjoyed the others, what I’ve found with craft distilleries is they’ll use lower proof to hide the younger aspects of drams. However the downside to doing that is you can lose out some of the interesting parts of the dram.
So while I would say it’s rough dram, it’s one to look out for. It’s a whisky nerd’s dram.
- Appearance: slightly deeper orange-amber than the beechwood.
- Nose: dark chocolate, virgin/green wood, cedar stain, some spice. Some supplemental notes with the extra amount I got from /u/tomodera and let sit for 45 mins. Cinnamon, rose hips, leather, ethanol.
- Palate: very oaky, weird coffee flavour… honestly tastes like an espresso-bean infused whisky. Some more dark chocolate, vanilla, some smoke I think? Needs water, this is seriously hot stuff. After adding some water the same flavours are present but tamed down a bit. more oak and some spice. Supplemental notes: still incredibly coffee-like to me, spice, hot, chocolatey, more balanced than i remember from the small amount last time. still quite hot. with a bit of water more oak like last time, less ethanol-forward.
- Finish: warm, long, coffee… strange. New finish, still strange and coffee like, not as bad.
Conclusion: I’m not really a fan of this, and usually I love cask strength whisky. It honestly does taste like a flavoured whisky and that just threw me off. It was better the second time around, but still not as good as the other three. I bumped up my score a few points.
- Nose: Play-doh. Higher proof is evident, dry, cherry, vanilla, wood, leather.
- Palate: Youthful, lots of wood influence, hot, vanilla, tobacco, pepper, dark chocolate
- Finish: Hot, pepper, cocoa, leather, espresso, vanilla. Longer finish. Sawdust, caramel, butterscotch.
Conclusion: Youthful, much more bold, more traditional bourbon notes. I will probably be the outlier here, but I enjoyed this one the most. The low proof releases were not as flavorful as I would like, the boldness of this one resonated with me. Though more aging would go wonders to mellow out some of the heat and youth.
- Nose: Coffee beans, cocoa, earthy, mint, raisins, grapes, and a little bit floral.
- Palate: Earth, oak, espresso, grapes, vanilla, nutmeg.
- Finish: Medium. Cardboard, cocoa, beef broth, pepper.
- Conclusion: I liked this one the most of the four. The flavours were much bolder and I enjoyed the earthy coffee notes. It was noticeably hotter than the other three but I wouldn’t have guessed a 13+% difference between them. It had a few off notes but I like what they are going for here and think it has a lot of potential.
And finally, some of our members had some final remarks overall on the distillery:
I feel like I said cardboard/soapy a lot this review, but that note permeates all of these whiskies. After my recent adventure to visit Don Livermore, I now know that note is a result of the prominence of Ethyl Laurate, which is produced during malting. Depending on how long a distillery runs their heads for before switching to the heart of the spirit cut, you end up getting some of the more volatile compounds in the final product, of which Ethyl Laurate is one. I don’t mind the cardboard/soapy/waxy note, but it is interesting to know scientifically now why it happens.
Ok enough blabbering about that; overall, I really liked these whiskies. The are all pretty respectable, and I would be curious to see what an even more aggressively smoked version would look like; I definitely found myself wanting a bit more from the smoke contribution. I liked the peated one the best, and could easily see having a bottle of it on my self. When you get free samples from a distillery, it can be a real crapshoot, but I was pleasantly surprised at the quality and innovation of what was offered here. I look forward to seeing what this distillery does in the future.
Overall some interesting stuff worth checking out. I found the Peated Whisky particularly engaging and exciting. Despite the variety of processes that this distillery uses, nothing tastes unbalanced or gimmicky. The biggest problem I have across the range is the dominant alcohol heat that seems to exist at the expense of the flavors. Thanks to the distillery for providing these samples.
Overall, these guys are making some nice stuff. I’m impressed at the quality without any sourced juice and think some of their offerings will be fantastic in a few more years. They certainly compare well to many craft american whiskies I’ve tried to this point. The Cherrywood was my favourite and the peat was a clear 2nd place. The Czar was better on round 2 but still my least favourite.