Boozehound Reviews: Black Velvet, Iowa’s drink of choice

Black Velvet
Black Velvet is the drink of choice for many Iowans.

In November, Little Village published an article detailing the booze-drinking habits of Iowa, courtesy of the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division annual report. Well, it’s a new year, but I thought I’d finally run on down to the old liquor emporium and find out what Iowa’s favorite alcohol — Canada’s Black Velvet — was all about.

Personally, I think Canadian whiskey gets a bad rap sometimes. It’s not on the sexy, high shelf in the liquor store. It’s cheap, it’s widely available and it’s only just now starting to gain some serious respect (probably long-deserved, to be honest) in the wider world of whiskey.

The way I saw it though, the entire state of Iowa couldn’t be wrong? Could it? So I went, I purchased and — for the low, low price of $9.99 — I tasted. I was left with one question: What the hell is wrong with this state?

Don’t get me wrong, I get it. Everybody’s not going to be buying off of the top shelf. But I’m not asking for that shelf, I’m not even asking for the middle shelf, but maybe, just the shelf above the bottom? Can’t we collectively agree to raise our standards just a little bit?

I know this is a wish that will probably fall on deaf ears. If there was a whiskey made for mixing drinks, it was probably Black Velvet, and I know in Johnson County, the demographics interested in drinking hard liquor are probably looking for good deals. But if you want inexpensive whiskey, do yourselves a favor and get some Old Crow instead. It’s cheaper at $6 to $7 a bottle, and it tastes better too.

I can honestly say that this was the first whiskey I have ever tasted that I didn’t like one bit. So, if we can’t agree to raise our collective standards up a shelf, Iowa, we can at least do better than Black Velvet. Switch to Old Crow — the whiskey of choice for Mark Twain and Ulysses S. Grant!

Aroma: Sweet at first, Black Velvet’s aroma quickly fades into disturbing — there’s something chemical there, like nail polish remover or turpentine. Not pleasant.

Taste: It’s smooth, I’ll give it that. Unfortunately, the taste might actually be black velvet, crushed up and distilled into booze.

Palate: Weak, watery and sits lightly on the tongue. In other words, it has no redeeming qualities about it.

Finish: I can’t shake the feeling that this might be anti-freeze, and I’m burning my insides and causing permanent damage. It burns, but not in a pleasant way.

Grade: D+


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