- DISTILLER: CALI Distillery, contract distilled in Kentucky
- MASH BILL: ~92.5% Rye | 7.5% Malted Barley
- AGE: 14-18 Months
- YEAR: 2018
- PROOF: 118 Proof (59% ABV)
- MSRP: $30
- BUY ONLINE: Mission Liquor
NOSE: Light with faint dried/candied fruit
TASTE: Burnt Sugar | Rye | Spice | Black Pepper
FINISH: Medium | Black Pepper | Stewed Fruit
SHARE WITH: Cask strength whiskey fans
WORTH THE PRICE: I think so. Rye of this proof at this price is rare, but I understand some may be turned off by the age.
BOTTLE, BAR OR BUST: Try it in a bar if you see it, but as it isn't widely distributed outside of California, your best bet is probably buying a bottle online.
OVERALL: 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.)
At this price, I have no issue mixing with Riptide. It makes for interesting and potent old fashioneds and Manhattans.
Because their website says the mash bill is 95% rye, one might guess that this is a sourced MGP rye like so many others. It is not; it is contract distilled in Kentucky. I spoke with owner Howard Witkin, who said the rye content is closer to 93%. The extra barley aids the fermentation which in turn smooths some rough edges in the distillate. Riptide also avoids much of the pickle flavor common in MGP’s 95% ryes.
While I would love to see CALI continue to age Riptide, Witkin says it will remain around this age to preserve the flavor profile. There are plans to release a longer-aged, proofed-down rye soon.
Disclaimer: CALI Distillery 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.