whiskey of the week

The ultimate crossover whiskey

Rapper Nissim Black's 'Hava' whiskey is surprisingly mellowed and pairs beautifully with dark chocolate

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Nissim Black

Rapper Nissim Black is the ultimate crossover artist, blending the urban hip hop and yeshivish worlds in his own personal biography. Now he has overseen the creation of a crossover Israel-born whiskey brand, Hava

Hava whiskey

I have to concede that I ordered it more out of curiosity than need — there are a lot of good whiskeys and at $90 a bottle, Hava isn’t cheap. But it’s good, and holds up well against other better-known scotch whiskeys. First, here’s what Nissim says about how his whiskey is made: 

“In this land of wheat and barley, we mash malted barley and local wheat with spring and well water from the Golan Heights. Yeast is added to begin a 60-hour fermentation. The wash is then double distilled in copper pot stills, with worm tub condensers. This barrel is a new charred American oak barrel filled in August 2017, it was heavily charred in-house at the Golani distillery for sweet oaky caramel notes. During the 40-month aging process in the hot Israeli climate we lost 22% to the angels (evaporation) resulting in a unique single barrel whisky like no other.”

That’s a lot to lose in evaporation — far more than the standard 2% — but the whiskey doesn’t suffer for it. In fact, it is surprisingly mellowed and tastes like it was finished in barrels previously used for sherry.

When I tested it against an older double-oaked Glenlivet, Hava was superior, boasting depth and a molasses-like flavor. Hava pairs beautifully with dark chocolate and opens up nicely with a few drops of water. It’s also a good l’chaim — it doesn’t sting the palate and finishes with no bite. This is a creative whiskey, and its creator and inspiration should be proud of yet another crossover hit.

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