- DISTILLER: Finger Lakes Distilling
- MASH BILL: 80% Rye | 20% Malted Barley
- Cooperage: Quarter Casks then Finished in Sherry Barrels from local wineries
- AGE: 3 years
- YEAR: 2019
- PROOF: 91 Proof (45.5% ABV)
- MSRP: $45.99
- BUY ONLINE: Wine-Searcher.com
NOSE: Stewed Peaches | Rye Spice | Smoked Vanilla | Floral
TASTE: Stewed Fruits | Caramel | Mint | Rye Spice
FINISH: Medium in length with sherry notes.
SHARE WITH: Folks who are interested in finished ryes that are a bit different.
WORTH THE PRICE: This is at the slightly lower end of the spectrum for craft whiskey, so yes.
BOTTLE, BAR OR BUST: Try this one at a bar before you commit to a bottle. It isn’t overly expensive but may not be for everyone.
OVERALL: 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.
Usually, I can pick up the difference between a whiskey that is traditionally aged and one that is “rapid-aged.” However, those qualities were muted by the sherry cask finish. On a side note, Finger Lakes Distilling sources the sherry casks from local, New York wineries.
At first, it came across as a very one-note whiskey which was all sherry. While I do enjoy sherry bombs in Scotches, I’m less of a fan when it comes to American whiskeys. However, when I continued to sip, this one got much better and the palate more complex. As I always tell folks, never judge a whiskey on its first sip: You have to get past initial palate shock.
I’ve had sherry-finished ryes before, and McKenzie is definitely in a field of its own. In my experience, the sherry notes overwhelm, making it difficult to identify the remainders. While fruits are the first thing that is picked up both on the nose and palate, it fades quickly enough so you can enjoy the spectrum of what’s offered.
Overall, I liked McKenzie Straight Rye but didn’t love it. It still retained some of the rapid-aging tells, and I’m going to recommend trying this one at a Bar before you commit to a bottle. Cheers!
MCKENZIE STRAIGHT RYE
Proof: 91 (45.5% ABV)
Mash Bill: 80% Rye and 20% Malted Barley
Cooperage: Quarter casks and then finished in locally-sourced Sherry barrels
Age: Three years
"McKenzie Rye Whiskey is made from local rye grain and is distilled using old-time techniques. We age this whiskey in new charred oak casks and finish in sherry barrels from local wineries. The sherry balances the spiciness of the rye and also gives a nod to the wine region where this whiskey is produced."
Disclaimer: Finger Lakes Distilling Co. provided Bourbon & Banter with a sample of their product for this review. We appreciate their willingness to allow us to review their products with no strings attached. Thank you.