Celebrity whisk(e)y is nothing new. There are tons of brands out there that borrow varying levels of influence from their heavy-hitting celebrity partners. Some bottles feel like a celeb simply slapped their names on a bottle (called white labeling) and cashed a check, while other famous folks really dive into the distilling and aging processes.
Unfortunately, A$AP Rocky’s new whisky brand falls squarely in the “cash grab” end of the spectrum. That’s not to say he’s totally hands off — it’s tough to discern exactly how involved he is — but it is to say that his new spirit… isn’t great.
Rocky’s new whisky — which dropped this week and is shipping out in April — is all about “disruptive packaging” and “contemporary consumer” vibes. You know, boilerplate PR messaging. While it’s never a good sign when those buzzwords are all over a press release for a whisky, there was some hope for this one. A$AP Rocky has a great eye for design, has been pushing hip-hop culture in new directions, and made a splash when he got behind Courvoisier Cognac a few years ago. He knows booze and the design of the bottle is eye-catching, which shows he’s thinking outside the box in a very standardized industry.
There are also two plastic cups attached to the bottle for easy drinking — which is also “disruptive.” Though, to be honest, probably not needed or as cool as someone at the brand seems to think they are. We digress! For now, let’s dive into what is actually in the bottle and see if it’s worth tracking down.
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Mercer + Prince Blended Canadian Whisky by A$AP Rocky
Average Price: $32 (Pre-order)
The juice in the bottle is a four-year-old Canadian whisky with an unpublished mash bill. The whisky, made in Ontario, rests in ex-bourbon barrels for those four years before it’s vatted and refilled into Mizunara casks from Japan for a final (short) maturation. That whisky is then proofed all the way down to 80 proof and bottled.
There’s a hint of warm apple pie on the nose with a touch of brown spices and tart apple filling that gives way to a dark Caro Syrup. That ultra-sweet syrup drives the palate with the spice and apple disappearing from the taste, leaving you feeling like you just put a spoonful of brown sugar that was dipped in “whisky” in your mouth. There’s an echo of brown spice near the end and maybe a hint of green apple peels (I’m being super generous), but it’s the brown sugar/corn syrup that drives the short and watery finish towards a mostly blank conclusion.
I’m not sure what to make of these plastic cups on the top and bottom of the bottle. It’s neat for about five seconds then you realize you’re drinking cheap and overly sweet whisky out of a plastic cup that’s not helping the flavor at all. Plus, you need to clean out the cups before you put them back on the bottle. Otherwise, there’ll be a sticky mess.
This really feels like it was a good idea when it came out of someone’s mouth and then not really thought all the way through. There’s no way these plastic cups aren’t going straight in the trash or, worse, just thrown on the street in the liquor store parking lot.
Between the overly sweet vibe of this whisky and the portable whisky cups, this really feels like it’s marketed towards high school kids. It’s so sweet that it’s hard to find any redeeming quality here. It’s the first bottle in years that I’ll likely just pour down the drain and then put in two different recycling garbage cans (thanks for the extra work, Rocky!). Then, to be honest, I’ll probably never think about this bottle again.
50/100 — This is a total fail.