I’ve long been a fan of Jack’s Single Barrel, Barrel Proof Tennessee Whiskey, as I think it’s the best readily available American whiskey on the market. I said READILY AVAILABLE, calm down whiskey police. Also, if you’re wanting to engage in the TN whiskey versus bourbon argument, might I invite you to check out the Iron Sheik’s Twitter feed. The news that their limited release for 2020 was a barrel proof rye had me excited & a little apprehensive at the same time, as I’m not a huge rye whiskey fan.
The mashbill is misleading as 95% rye typically produces much more evergreen than sweet aromatics. The mouthfeel and sweetness causes this to drink much more like a bourbon than a rye. It’s more viscous and full-bodied than similar high rye whiskies. If you are into a standard rye whiskey profile this is not for you; but if you love good bourbon and typically stay away from rye whiskey this may be a gateway pour for you.
This is a decent rye that checks all the boxes required of an American rye whiskey, but it needs more time in the barrel to gain complexity and character to make it worth its $69 price. Only a few drops of water blunted the whole presentation, which also shows its youth (Perhaps 2-3 years.) Overall, it lacks complexity and needs time in the barrel.
This is a bottle full of goodness all around; silken yet full bodied; lush in texture but busily spicy with fruit notes. If you can make rye whiskey candy, solidify this. It’s a delight to hold in your mouth and roll around as the honeyed texture gives way to tingly spice and slightly drying oak. I mentioned in my review of the 2020 Michter’s 10 year bourbon release that it was my favorite bottling of that product ever. I’ll declare the same about this 10-year rye. It’s brilliant, bright, inviting and wide-open delicious. It’s as good a Kentucky rye as I’ve ever enjoyed.
Rabble Rouser Bottled in Bond Rye Whisky is released by Catoctin Creek Distillery (you can read my distillery review here), once a year in mid-February. The 2020 version was released on a Saturday. Although there were 900 bottles released nationwide, the distillery had 150 bottles and allowed each person to buy two. I remember that Saturday. It was very cold and I’m not much for standing in line for a chance that might not happen.
Back in 2017 I covered the amazing journey of Michael Myers from east coast photographer to Rocky Mountains distiller. At the time, Distillery 291 was winning medals and garnering praise from a couple influential whiskey figures, but was still an off-the-radar craft distiller in a crowded and trendy field. Over the years, 291 has continued to grow and establish itself as a major Colorado whiskey brand.
Perhaps the clarity of vision Myers always held for Distillery 291 should come as no surprise from the former New York photographer. He wouldn’t hear of sourcing from someone else. They would create unique Colorado whiskeys that would be authentic from the beginning. Even when I tried the Colorado Rye Whiskey that was just over a year old, I couldn’t believe how good it was.
McKenzie Straight Rye is a unique pour. Distilled from a mash of 80% Rye and 20% Malted Barley, it is aged three years and non-chill-filtered. Finger Lakes Distilling chose to age the rye in quarter casks. Smaller barrels provide more surface area per volume of whiskey to the wood, which gives it a faster maturation cycle than a standard 53-gallon barrel. The whiskey doesn’t age faster, but it acquires qualities of longer-aged whiskeys.
The Blaum Brothers message of quality and authenticity comes through on this product. The smoked malt adds to the complexity and a full four years in the barrel, not overly common in ryes is evident in the taste. Having tasted this during bourbon heritage month, I feel like I am cheating, but I will try it in a Manhattan as soon as we get to October.
Like the Bourbon, this is just not enough proof to get me excited. It’s especially disappointing knowing first-hand what the 4-5 year old Rye from Wilderness Trail (who contract distills this) can be at cask strength. At 110-115 proof (I’ve tried several batches in that range) they fight far outside of their weight class; at 83 proof this just misses everything. I feel like I can taste the water in the bottle which is a first for me. I appreciate their desire to be more moderately priced but if it sacrifices the overall experience it isn’t worth the savings.