Corsair Quinoa Whiskey is made from 80% malted barley and 20% from unmalted red and white quinoa seeds from Bolivia. The malted barley breaks down to 63% untoasted/unroasted 2-row barley, and 17% from kiln-toasted 2-row malted barley which imparts added flavour complexity and a darker colour. The whiskey is pot-distilled with the undiluted spirit at 62.5% abv. The whiskey is aged in new oak barrels, the largest in size being 30 gallons, and using the rather heavy No. 4 char. Length of aging depends on climatic conditions at the time of the year of the aging, and varies between 6 months and 1.5 years. The reviewed bottle, # 41/180 from batch 3, does not declare an age statement. The bottle was opened January 20, 2013, and is 90% full. Corsair also uses quinoa in its 'Insane in the Grain' 12 grain bourbon, and in 'Grainiac', its 9 grain bourbon.
Nose: strong overall intensity, baked apples with cinnamon/cassia and a lot of additional spices reminiscent of rye grain, but very clearly somewhat different from rye grain flavours; this nose is also moderately floral/perfumed, grassy, and nutty, perhaps closest to Brasil nuts, or to a taste of walnuts combined with a bit of cashew. Taste: intensely sweet, tart and spicy all at the same time. Initially this is rather hot in the mouth, but it is not from the alcohol. The nose is relatively strongly flavoured, but the palate is much more intensely flavoured still. The spices are intense and delicious. They are similar to most unmalted rye flavours in their pointedness, their intensity, and in the fact that this "grain" quinoa generates several different flavours at once. Cinnamon/cassia shows up on the palate as it does in the nose, but black pepper is very strong here, stronger than it is in most rye whiskies. Finish: long very strong finish, with all of the sharpness of both the black pepper and the apple/cinnamon intact.