Posts tagged ‘Rye’

Jefferson’s 10 Year Straight Rye Review



Today’s review is of Jefferson’s 10 year-old rye whiskey, sourced from Alberta Distillers in Canada.  Alberta Distillers has become famous for their rye, with Whistle Pig and Masterson’s garnering positive reviews along with the Jefferson’s rye.  As with their bourbons, there is no Jefferson’s Distillery that is distilling the whiskey sold under the Jefferson’s label.  However, they have certainly gained a reputation for bottling some very good whiskey, despite the fact that all Jefferson’s is doing is bottling the juice.  Jefferson’s is made from a 100% rye mash-bill, is 10 years old and bottled at 94 proof (47% abv).


On the nose, this is a classic rye whiskey, with big, straight-forward rye bread, a little vanilla, evergreen, pine sap, and a little black licorice.  The palate is full-bodied and rye all the way through.  There are notes of rye spice, rye bread, pine needles, oak, spearmint, and vanilla extract.  The finish is medium in length, with some lingering evergreen notes and vanilla flavors.


Overall, this is a wonderful rye whiskey that really hits the mark if you are a lover of rye whiskey.  It definitely performs well at its price point, especially considering that some of the other ryes from Alberta Distillers are twice the price of Jefferson’s.  It is sharp, spicy, full-bodied, and full of wonderful rye character.  My grade: B+.  Price: $35-40/750ml.  If you are in the mood for a good rye, look no further than this one (and it won’t break the bank, either).



Redemption “High-Rye” Bourbon Review

Today, I am reviewing Redemption “high-rye” bourbon (batch #52).  This bourbon is bottled in Bardstown, KY for Strong Spirits, but it is distilled and aged in Indiana at Midwest Grain Products (MGP).  MGP is most known for their 95% rye mashbill that goes into rye whiskeys such as Angel’s Envy Rye, George Dickel Rye, and Bulliet 95, just to name a few.  As I am fond of MGP’s rye whiskeys, I have wanted to get my hands on some MGP bourbon for a while.  Redemption bourbon is unique in its composition because the grainbill contains 38.2% rye, which is a very high amount of rye, so much so that this is almost a straight rye whiskey instead of a straight bourbon whiskey.  The bottle indicates that the whiskey is at least 3 years old, but I suspect most of the whiskey in the bottle is around 4-5 years old.  Redemption bourbon is bottled at 92 proof (46% abv).Redemption bourbon

In the glass, this bourbon is a hazy, red amber color, which leads me to believe that this whiskey is non-chill filtered, but the bottle does not say one way or the other.  The nose presents a lot of spices that you would expect from a high-rye bourbon.  Anise, sawdust, oregano, and cinnamon are all present, backed up with vanilla extract and corn flavors.  Overall, this is a very good and complex nose, especially given the youth of the bourbon.  The palate is medium-bodied and very drinkable with flavors of dill seed, anise, oregano, corn, and big vanilla.  I am quite sure that if I were to sip this blind, I would think I was drinking a rye.  The finish is medium-short with a nice rye zip and some sweet vanilla.

Overall, I really like this bourbon for what it is; young and tasty.  Redemption bourbon does not presume to think it is an old bourbon with elegance and age under its belt.  It is meant to be a smooth whiskey somewhere between a bourbon and a rye.  The balance is struck well, and the whiskey drinks well neat despite its youth.  Judging solely by the flavor profile, I think this bourbon could be a very mixer to have around for your high-end cocktails.  My grade: B-.  Price: $20-25/750ml.  At the price point, this is really a good buy, and a whiskey that makes a great addition to any whiskey drinker or home bartender’s cabinet.

George Dickel Rye Review

Today, I am reviewing George Dickel Rye whiskey, the newest George Dickel product to hit the liquor store shelves.  As many of my loyal readers know, when it comes to Tennessee whiskey, George Dickel gets the nod over Jack Daniel’s for me every day of the week.  However, George Dickel Rye is not actually distilled at the Dickel distillery in Tullahoma, TN.  George Dickel Rye is sourced from Midwest Grain Products (MGP), and is only bottled under the George Dickel label at 90 proof (45% abv).  That said, I believe that George Dickel does charcoal filter the whisky with their chill filtration process just like they do their Tennessee whisky.  There is no age statement on George Dickel Rye, but my guess is that it is about 5 years old or so.George Dickel Rye

On the nose, George Dickel is very reminiscent of a typical MGP rye.  There are notes of spearmint, rye, anise, dill brine, and some light vanilla.  The palate is soft and simple, but delicious, giving off nice flavors of spearmint, pine needles, vanilla, and some sugar cane.  The finish is medium-long with a minted sharpness along with some good rye and pine, with a small hint of vanilla.

Overall, this whisky reminds me a lot of Bulliet 95, possibly just a hair younger.  I don’t get all the sweeter flavors from Dickel that I do from Bulliet 95 (although I must admit I have not yet done a side-by-side tasting).  George Dickel is a very drinkable rye that presents great rye flavors from start to finish with enough influence from the barrel to make it all work.  My grade: B.  Price: $25-30/750ml.  This is a great rye to have in the cabinet because it is a good whisky neat, but versatile enough for great cocktails.  Let it ride!

Much thanks to the folks at Diageo and George Dickel for the sample!

Angel’s Envy Rye Review

My review today kicks off a few consecutive reviews I will be doing of rye whiskeys with a review of Angel’s Envy Rye (stay tuned for reviews of George Dickel Rye and High West Rendezvous Rye).  Angel’s Envy Rye is the only rye on shelves from Louisville Distilling Company, and it has certainly attracted some different thoughts from whiskey lovers.  Angel’s Envy’s base rye whiskey is 5-7 year-old rye whiskey sourced from Midwest Grain Products (MGP), which is the company that used to be called LDI.  It is the same source of Bulliet 95, Willett Rye, George Dickel Rye, and many others.

Angel’s Envy’s whiskey uses MGP’s standard 95% rye recipe, but then puts a distinctly “Angel’ Envy” twist into it.  Angel’s Envy takes that 5-7 year-old rye, and dumps the whiskey into ex-Cognac casks that most were most recently used to finish Caribbean rum.  Once the whiskey has taken a 12-18 month nap in the Rum/Cognac casks, Angel’s Envy Rye is bottled at 100 proof (50% abv) and sold in the iconic Angel’s Envy bottles.  (The batch I am reviewing specifically is Batch 1D.)  Without further ado, onto the whiskey itself…

On the nose, Angel’s Envy Rye is its own animal.  The profile of the MGP rye is there, but packaged in something new and unique.  Notes of gingerbread cookies, brown sugar, maple, pine, candied yams, spearmint, and molasses are all present.  The palate is medium to full-bodied, presenting notes of gingerbread, pine sap, mint, and rye spice.  There are also darker sweet flavors in the palate, such as maple sugar and molasses.  The finish is medium in length, with a lot of maple wood and sharp rye hanging around the palate, with a hint of crème brulee.  This whiskey takes water very well, taming down the density of the whiskey, leaving for soft sugary notes on the palate, and only subtle spiciness from the rye.

Overall, this is a whiskey that most people will love or hate.  My guess is that if you don’t like rum or sweet desserts, this will not be your thing.  However, I love rum and sweet desserts, and I really like this rye.  It is not always a bargain buy, but if it is on sale, it is worth the try because of how unique of an experience Angel’s Envy Rye truly is.  My grade: B+.  Price: $70-80/750ml.  I love all the different flavors happening in this one, even if it is on the higher end of what I like paying for a bottle of whiskey.

Much thanks to Louisville Distilling Company for the bottle!

WhistlePig 10 Year Rye Review

I’ve been debating reviewing this whiskey for some time.  The obvious argument against reviewing WhistlePig has been the fact that it is relatively expensive here in Boston, and is not really a great value whiskey for a 10 year spirit.  That said, I get asked about this one all the time, and it really is a damn good whiskey.  So, when my significantly better half gave me a bottle of WhistlePig for my birthday, I decided a review was in order.

WhistlePig is a 100% rye mashbill, and this particular bottling is ten years old and bottled at 100 proof (50% abv).  WhistlePig also does a bottling at eleven years old, which is bottled at 111 proof.  Both whiskeys are sourced from an unknown (Alberta Distilling) distillery in Canada, but distilling is in process at the WhistlePig farm in Vermont.  Even now, though, WhistlePig is still a great product, and it is beginning to be more widely available.

On the nose, WhistlePig feels more grounded in the grain than many other ryes I’ve experienced.  The dense cereal smells of oats and rye form the backbone, but spearmint, white chocolate, potpourri, and sweet spiced pecans round out the nose.  The palate is medium-bodied, but lends itself to a wonderfully creamy mouthfeel.  There are notes of toasted oak, milled grains, black pepper, and mint all backed up by vanilla and honeysuckle sweetness.  The finish is medium-long and grain driven, like the rest of the whiskey.  There are good notes of almonds, vanilla, bitter dark chocolate, fresh mint leaves, and honey oats.

Overall, WhistlePig is a very good rye that hits all the notes a rye should, with no downsides.  Simply put, if you like rye, you’ll like WhistlePig.  That said, the rye is soft enough that bourbon drinkers might find WhistlePig very enjoyable as well.  If you normally stick to bourbon, I would definitely encourage you to sample some WhistlePig if you have the opportunity.  My Grade: B+.  Price: $60-70/750ml.  This is a great rye, although there are definitely better priced ryes on the market that can contend with WhistlePig (Bulliet 95, Willett, and High West’s Ryes).

Willett Family Estate Bottled 4 Year Single Barrel Rye Review

Today, I am reviewing a rare release bottled by Willett, their Family Estate Bottled Single Barrel Rye.  It also marks my second tandem review with William from A Dram Good Time, in the midst of his very good series on American whiskeys.  This particular review is of barrel 79, and it is sourced from Lawrenceburg Distillers Indiana (the same distillery that sources Bulliet 95).  This is a straight rye whiskey, aged 4 years, and bottled at 110 proof.  I have reviewed Willett’s standard bourbon Estate Reserve on the site, and talked a little about Kentucky Bourbon Distillers.  Generally, KBD sources and bottles whiskey out of the old Willett distillery in Bardstown, Kentucky.  However, the distillery was rebuilt a few years back, and it is active again.  I think we will see some pretty good whiskeys coming out of Willett within the next few years.Willett Single Barrel Rye

For now, we just have sourced whiskeys, but they definitely have a history of being pretty damn good.  KBD bottles sourced ryes and bourbons under the Willett label at many different ages, and most of them are bottled at their barrel strength.  The Willett rare releases can be pretty hard to find, but they are worth the buy if you can snag a bottle.

On the nose, this whiskey is pure rye, with bold notes of pumpernickel bread, ginger, basil, and some oregano.  The nose does have a solid backbone of the dill brine that exemplifies LDI ryes.  The palate enters with some sweetness, like honey roasted peanuts or cinnamon sugar.  In the back, it gets a little salty and sweet, like sweet gherkin pickles.  The finish brings some wonderful heat, but it is balanced with vanilla, caramel, lime juice, and sweet dill mayonnaise (not sure if that exists).

Overall, this is a pretty damn good rye whiskey.  It is young enough to maintain a big rye character, but aged enough to make it drinkable and well-rounded.  Water doesn’t do it much good in my opinion.  It brings out the pickle juice nose, and the whiskey loses some depth at lower proofs.  However, like anything else, try one of these Willett ryes for yourself and see what you think.  My Grade: B+.  Price: $35-40/750ml.  For as hard as this one is to find, it is a great value.  If you like young ryes, this one is a great buy.

Here are William’s tasting notes and thoughts, and a link to his review.

Willett Family Estate Bottled Rye 4 Year Review Notes

Color:  Amber / Copper

Nose:  Vanilla frosting, crushed pine needles, spearmint, mint leaves, and light brown sugar.

Palate:  Creamy toffee, vanilla, dill weed, ginger, light cinnamon, slightly bitter oak, again light brown sugar, hints of maple, and mint. Very drinkable, so no water here.

Finish:  Long with toffee, spices, and mint – Just lingers along.

Overall this is a pretty well balanced whiskey, but given time in the glass the sweetness really starts to pull up. It also has a great amount of character and cask influence despite its age – Perhaps this is an example of how warehouse location makes a difference. The nose was fabulous, but the palate is what really shined to me – Absolutely great for the price as well.


Wild Turkey Rare Breed Bourbon Review

Campari America

Campari America

Today, I am reviewing a barrel strength monster from Wild Turkey, the Rare Breed.  It is a small-batch bourbon, made from a combination of 6, 8, and 12-year old stocks.  It is then bottled at its barrel strength, which will vary slightly from batch to batch.  The bottle I am reviewing is from batch WT03RB (54.1% abv, 108.2 proof).  Unlike some of the giants from Buffalo Trace (George T. Stagg, E.H. Taylor), Wild Turkey Rare Breed’s strength out of the barrel is pretty mellow.  This is because Wild Turkey’s Jimmy Russell has always believed that the less water you add to whiskey, the better it tastes.  So, unlike many bourbons that enter the barrels close to the legal limit of 125 proof, Wild Turkey whiskey goes into the barrel around 95 or 100 proof.  So, when the whiskey comes out of the barrel, it doesn’t require much water to be added to get the whiskey to 101 or 81 proof (the two most common bottling proofs for Wild Turkey).  And, in the case of this batch of Rare Breed, the barrel strength is only 108.2 proof.

In the glass, Rare Breed is a rich, dark amber.  On the nose, it is dense and musty.  It smells like a much older bourbon than it actually is.  There are notes of fresh leather, tobacco, some rye, burnt pine needles, some cinnamon, and a bit of nutmeg.  The palate is where this bourbon shines best; it enters sweet with vanilla and maple syrup, moving to wet oak before it rumbles across the back of the tongue.  The finish is long and robust, moving from a menthol/tobacco note to a warming, sweet vanilla, back and forth.  Even at its full 108.2 proof, this whiskey is very drinkable.  Water does this one no good; it brings those leathery notes to the fore in full force.

Overall, this is a very good rye-forward bourbon.  I am a big fan of Wild Turkey’s lineup, especially because they are damn good whiskeys at damn good prices.  This one fits nicely into the lineup, and presents different notes than other whiskeys in Wild Turkey’s range.  Occasionally, I taste some tannin off flavors in this one, and it doesn’t quite have the waves of flavor of Russell’s Reserve 10 year or Wild Turkey 101, but it’s close.  My Grade: B-.  Price: $35-40/750ml.  This compares well to whiskeys at its price range as it is deep and complex, continuing the tradition of Wild Turkey value bourbons.