Editors Note: Today’s post is from Elizabeth Nyman, one of the semi-finalists who are applying to become a regular contributor to Bourbon & Banter. We hope you’ll read all of their posts and let us know what you think of each applicant by commenting below the post, sharing online or dropping us a note via email.
- DISTILLER: Republic Restoratives
- MASH BILL: Undisclosed.
- AGE: A blend of sourced one-year-old rye and three-and-a-half-year-old rye from Tennessee.
- BATCH: 4-013
- PROOF: 90 (45% ABV)
- MSRP: $75.00
- BUY ONLINE: Found only in the DC Metro Area at this time. More information is at their website.
NOSE: Spice | Vanilla | Maple
TASTE: Cinnamon | Caramel | Dry Spice
FINISH: The heat and lingering taste of dry, woody spices makes the experience pleasant. Rye whiskeys enjoy sticking around on the palette with their sharp flavor. This is a reason I would not recommend this served neat.
SHARE WITH: Anyone who can take and enjoy a political joke. Rodham Rye is its name. It is hard not to comment on that in some way no matter how your politics lean. It might as well be a fun comment then. Those who may shy from rye products may enjoy it in a spirit-forward cocktail such as an Old Fashioned.
WORTH THE PRICE: The popularity of this beverage in DC has proved enduring despite its namesake not winning the presidency. It is currently $75 if bought on sight at the distillery at the time of this review. This whiskey is worth most as a conversation starter, but those who often find ryes too spicy may enjoy it, too.
BOTTLE, BAR OR BUST: DC’s local laws make it an interesting place to distill. You can sell, bottle, and create your product all in the same building. Places like Republic Restoratives are a drink geek’s paradise. You get treated to it all right where you stand. I would recommend trying the distillery first if possible because of this. Their bar’s bartenders focus on what nuanced ways to serve their specific products. They will do it, too, to please your tastes. Unless you know exactly what you want, it is hard to recreate that experience at home.
OVERALL: The last kind of drinker I am is a rye drinker. I will drink it and I will definitely drink this, but likely with a dash of water or some ice. Rye is a complex ingredient though. Ice or water allow a sense of sweetness to blossom if added, which is what happens with this whiskey. Context sometimes is second only to product quality when it comes to spirits. This appropriate libation is hard to beat after the last American election. Cheers!
Leading up to the election, Republic Restoratives owners Pia Carusone and Rachel Gardner wanted to create a product that would celebrate who they thought would be the first female president. Plus, it seemed fitting: Hillary Clinton has been known to throw back the occasional whiskey. So, they came up with the idea for Rodham Rye, which would launch around the inauguration.
No need to tell you what happened next.
Carusone, who previously worked for congresswoman Gabby Giffords, was in Arizona campaigning for Clinton right up to election night. The next day, she and Gardner agreed to put the rye whiskey on hold, not sure exactly what to do with it.
But after a period of self-described mourning, the distillers returned to Rodham Rye and decided to continue with it anyway. Carusone says the spirit isn’t ultimately just about Clinton. “It’s a tribute to women in history, and a tribute to women in our everyday lives,” she says.
The whiskey itself is a blend of sourced one-year-old rye and three-and-a-half-year-old rye from Tennessee. (Tagline: “a selection of whiskies that are stronger together than apart.”) Carusone also points out that of all of the grains used to make whiskey, rye is the hardiest, sturdiest, most resilient of them all. (Do you sense a metaphor?) The result is a spirit with pink peppercorn spiciness, vanilla bean and kettle corn sweetness, and subtle cinnamon notes.
The distillers cut the whiskey to bottle strength using Adirondack Mountain spring water from a maple syrup farm in upstate new York that has been in Gardner’s family for generations. Another Clinton tie: “Senator from New York, she’s done a ton for conservation,” Carusone says.