There isn’t a glut of cask strength ryes out there and Riptide is an interesting addition to the category. You aren’t going to confuse it with Thomas H. Handy or Kentucky Owl. It tastes young, because it is. The intent was to showcase the rye flavor, not overwhelm it with oak. I generally find ryes seem to be drinkable at a younger age than bourbons, so I don’t mind this. It’s tasty and lightly oaked and the higher proof lends body. (Funny how I look for the grain flavor in a rye, but never say, “I love how the corn shines through!” about a bourbon.)
In a field of what ended up being six rye whiskies, two stood out above the rest. The ultimate winner was Booker’s Rye, currently an $850 bottle. The consensus runner-up was a 3-year rye from a then-relatively unknown new distillery called “Wilderness Trail,” who had just released their first 4-year rye that same day. I was stunned and couldn’t believe that a $60 3-year craft rye whiskey would excel amidst a group of well-known and established brands, including a couple private picks. I don’t need many fingers to count how many craft distilleries I’ve gotten intrigued about, but this definitely was one of them.
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I’ve been a fan of Irish whiskey for about 20 years but have never drank a lot of it. During that time however, I have thoroughly enjoyed having a pour from time to time. My favorites include Jameson Rarest Vintage, Redbreast Cask Strength and Power’s John Lane 12 Year.
Our daughter and son in law brought me back a bottle of Powers John’s Lane after a trip to Ireland over 5 years ago. I will admit I nursed that bottle and finally finished it earlier in the year. Recently I had a chance to have a couple pours of this again. Every time I have a pour I always wonder why I don’t drink this more often.