My father is not a big whiskey drinker, but his birthday is this week and I love him dearly, so there’s no time like the present to give my thoughts on Dad’s Hat Pennsylvania Rye. Dad’s Hat is distilled for Mountain Laurel Spirits at the Grundy Mill Distillery in Bristol, Pennsylvania, a commonwealth with a rich history in rye whiskey. Dad’s Hat is a true craft whiskey, distilled and bottled at a small distillery with time and attention given to the craft of making whiskey. The shelves at liquor stores have become inundated with new products of sourced whiskey from one of about ten different distilleries in the United States. This is not to say that there is anything wrong with sourced whiskey, but there are bottlers that do it right and well, and bottlers that hide their sources and overcharge for inferior whiskey. Dad’s Hat has come along as a sign of vibrant quality in the craft whiskey world.
According to the bottle, Dad’s Hat is at least 6 months old, aged in new oak quarter casks. I have to admit that I was skeptical when I read this statement, given the price I paid for the bottle. Along my whiskey journey, I have tried way too many American craft whiskeys that are just too young to be let out of the barrel yet, much less sold at $40/bottle. However, a few sips into my first glass of Dad’s Hat, my skepticism turned to the pleasure one gets from enjoying a fine, authentic Pennsylvania rye whiskey. Dad’s Hat is bottled at 90 proof (45% abv).
The nose is a good one, different from what I was expecting. There is a lot of cocoa, berry sweetness, sawdust, white chocolate, and juniper all wrapped up in a lively rye scent. The palate is softer and smoother than I was expecting. There are notes of cola, rye, wood, and cherry sweetness. The finish is short and sweeter than I was expecting, with a little rye, cherry, and cereal sweetness.
Overall, this whiskey was not at all what I thought it would be. I was expecting a young, fiery rye in desperate need of a good sleep in a barrel. I had tried it some time ago at a sampling, and I was not impressed. This is not that same, brash whiskey. On the contrary, this is a soft, elegant, dry, spicy, immensely enjoyable rye. It will be very exciting to see what happens in time when Mountain Laurel comes out with an older Dad’s Hat. One of the common complaints about this whiskey is that it is not a good cocktail companion, and this is a soft, subtle whiskey that is best on its own, for sure. The flavors of a traditional rye whiskey are present throughout the whiskey, but the whiskey is not harsh and aggressive like the 95% or 100% rye whiskeys coming out of MGP or Canada. So, who would want to ruin a well-done whiskey such as this in a cocktail? If you want a better-integrated cocktail, give it a whirl. My grade: B/B+. Price: $35-40/750ml. Despite its age, this whiskey easily competes in its price range, and its worth a buy next time you’re looking for a rye to sip on.
Happy Birthday, Dad!