Welcome to Shelf Sleepers, our semi-regular guide to the best booze nobody is buying. This time: Mellow Corn, a whiskey that looks like Pine-Sol, tastes like money well spent (and bananas).
Welcome to the Cult of Mellow Corn, we have memes.
Bearing the same chintzy label it did at its release in 1945, Mellow Corn is strategically buried at the bottom of the venerable Heaven Hill Distillery's brand page. It is not rye whiskey, bourbon whiskey, wheat whiskey or moonshine – it's straight corn whiskey, thanks to a staggering 90 percent corn mashbill (anything about 80 percent is designated corn whiskey).
According to the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax & Trade Bureau (TTB), corn whiskey can be matured in used oak barrels, too, where bourbon must age in new charred oak barrels. Heaven Hill takes advantage of this by dumping the new make corn spirit into its own used barrels and let it mature for at least four years and bottle the stuff at 100 proof (per the Bottled-in-Bond requirement). Then, somewhat mysteriously, it's priced anywhere from $10 to $15. A minimum 4-year-old, 100 proof whiskey from one of America's best whiskey makers for less than lunch at Chipotle.
Thanks to its goofy label and the color of the whiskey inside, it enjoys some popularity in the deep-cut whiskey nerd crowd (plus, its low-price, high-proof has made it a bartender favorite). Look past the label, the color and the name and you'll find an undervalued whiskey that's cheap enough to make a punch out of, sturdy enough for a stiff drink and delicate enough to drink on the rocks, where you'll be assaulted by dried fruit and vanilla.