Chris KelleyThe Drink: Koval White Rye Whiskey

The Comic: The Saviors #1 published by Image Comics

The Drink
The Koval Distillery is a craft distillery located in Chicago, Illinois. They focus on distilling luxurious organic whiskeys, speciality spirits and liqueurs. Established in 2008, Koval is the first distillery within Chicago city limits since prohibition. The founders, Robert and Sonat Birnecker left their careers in academia to bring the distilling traditions and techniques of Robert’s Austrian grandfather to America.

From the beginning, the Birneckers vowed to make organic spirits from scratch and avoid purchasing and bottling pre-made spirits. Every step of distilling is carefully thought out. From mashing to bottling, they do everything in-house. They even purchase the grain from local organic farmers. Koval has won numerous international awards and Robert is considered one of America’s top distilling experts.

Recently I was at one of my favorite bars here in Omaha, Krug Park, and decided to give Koval a try. I had seen the White Rye Whiskey bottle on the shelf before and was very intrigued. The way I feel about this whiskey is best described in the words of my very good friend Scott Hillabrand: “If you like whiskey, don’t try this.” I could not agree more. This was the first white or un-aged whiskey that I’ve had and I must say, I am not a fan. The nose was a bit peppery with hints of cocoa. It has the same mouth feel as water and didn’t really have much of a finish.
It has a very similar taste to some top shelf tequilas I’ve had. I love tequila, but I don’t want my whiskey to taste like it and I don’t drink it on the rocks.

The thing I love about whiskey is the flavors it develops in the aging process. The caramel, vanilla and spice are what I look forward to the most. I don’t really understand the rise in popularity of white whiskeys and probably won’t try one again any time soon. That being said, I am interested and excited about what the folks over at Koval are doing. There are definitely some whiskeys on their roster that I will be trying.

The Comic
When I first heard that James Robinson had a new series coming out from Image Comics, I was immediately interested. I’ve been a big fan of Robinson for a while. I absolutely love Starman (I’m only about half-way through), and I have to admit, I even enjoyed Justice League: Cry for Justice and his run on JLA. I know I may be alone on that one, but I generally enjoy everything he writes. So, right away I knew I’d be picking this up. I’m not very familiar with J Bone and didn’t know what to expect when I saw his name. I must say, when I saw the first preview for it, I was less than impressed. I usually don’t like that very classic kid-friendly art style, but this issue made me a believer.

The book opens up with our protagonist Tomas Ramirez getting high and talking to a lizard. It’s a very long drawn out exposition that seemed, at times, unnecessary. It does, however, do a great job of setting the tone for the central location of the story, Passburg. It’s a very small, complacent city. A town that we’ve all driven through before and thought to ourselves, “How can anyone live here?” And that’s exactly what all of Thomas’ friends thought as well. As he states in the opening pages, all of his friends have moved away. He passes his time as a gas station attendant and, well, by smoking a lot of weed. Then, one day, it all changes.

J Bone’s art is clean, expressive and absolutely gorgeous. I was not expecting this level of visual storytelling. I was blown away by his ability to progress the story so well. Like I said, I am not usually a fan of this art style, but J Bone made me a believer. He adds so much to this book, and I cannot wait to see more.

I wasn’t quite sure what to think when I first started reading this book, but by the end, I found myself begging for more. Robinson and Bone have something very special here and I can’t wait to see what they have in store for Tomas.

P.S. I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season and a very happy new year!! See you in 2014!!

Thanks for reading,
Christopher Kelley

Chris Kelley is Matt Baum’s cousin. We try not to hold that against him.