I am not a whiskey writer, but I am a writer who has tasted a lot of whiskey (let’s blame my sweet job here at P&W). Even for a non-expert, the first hint of No. 9’s sundry aroma foreshadowed its excellence. Created by two groups of people born and raised in Iowa, Slipknot and Cedar Ridge Distillery, this is a uniquely authentic product. According to Cedar Ridge owner/founder Jeff Quint, band members, particularly percussionist Shawn Crahan (a.k.a. Clown), worked together to fine-tune the flavor profile of No. 9 over several weeks, exchanging notes and samples. “We released it on August 10th and by the next day, there was not a bottle left in the state of Iowa,” said Quint, who had reportedly “vaguely heard of” the band (formed in 1995) when they approached him about a collaboration.
No. 9, which was named for the number of Slipknot band members, “in addition to Iowa corn, gets some extra spice from its rye content,” according to Shawn Crahan’s message on the bottle. “I hope you enjoy it as much as we do. Live life, and always be safe.” Hardcore aficionados have been impressed by Crahan’s ability to blend such a special flavor, and it rapidly sold out in multiple states, with over twenty-four thousand bottles now in the hands of maggots and whiskey collectors alike. No. 9 recently landed its first order from Japan and was also shipped to Europe for Slipknot’s current global tour, which comes to the U.S. starting in May – including a show at NYC’s Madison Square Garden on June 2nd (tickets available here). This fine grain belt whiskey is best enjoyed with Slipknot’s latest sinister album, 2019’s We Are Not Your Kind. If you’re trying to write about No. 9, good luck, because it’s almost too palatable and complex to describe – and you’ll just want to leisurely get buzzed on it after sip number one.
Maybe the band’s menacing, intense music made me think this whiskey would knock me on my ass, but it wasn’t at all heavy, even at 90 and 99 proof. Both No. 9 and No. 9 Reserve have a light, comforting flavor and noticeable smoothness. Both come in nicely-designed 750mL bottles that make a nostalgic glug-glug-glug sound when poured; the Reserve bottle is shaped in a way that makes it look and feel like a bit more, even though it’s the same quantity. Both share the same mashbill: 51% corn, 35% malted rye, and 14% 2-row malted barley. The key distinctions are that the Reserve is 99 proof (compared to the other at 90) and aged 4-5 years (compared to 3-4). The 90-proof edition tastes floral and fruity, with an exciting fragrance and sweet edges all around. After enjoying it neat, we tried mixing it with blood orange soda and found it to be dangerously awesome – although it’s savory enough that it needs no mixer at all. Building upon the same flowery qualities, the 99-proof Reserve edition has an elegant, oaky flavor and more of a robust bite to it. The Reserve is snappy in the best ways, with that warm-you-up effect that makes you feel like your nerves are winding down the old-fashioned way. Cedar Ridge, the first distillery to open in Iowa since Prohibition, sources corn from their family farm in Winthrop, Iowa, “managing every step of production, from grain to glass.” Such attention to quality surely lends to No. 9’s freshness and depth.
“As you get older, your tastes and smells change. Somewhere about 10 years ago, my taste for whiskey changed to where I could actually taste, enjoy and really understand it,” Crahan recently told Forbes. I really appreciate the process, the taste and everything that goes behind what whiskey really is. You know, it’s more of a luxury for myself than when I was younger.” He added, “It’s kind of a personal thing. It’s not really something I do around a lot of people because of just how much I enjoy it. You know what I mean? It’s a creature comfort. I like to get my day done, kick the shoes off, be in private and the glass to be nice and chilled and the bottle nice and chilled.” You can order No. 9 or find a nearby retailer here, and get more info from Cedar Ridge here. Depending on how much of a Slipknot fix you require – and how well you can handle your whiskey on a boat – you can also taste No. 9 on the inaugural voyage of Knotfest At Sea. Slipknot will headline the four-day cruise this summer, setting sail from Barcelona on August 10th.
Article: Olivia Isenhart
Photos: Shayne Hanley