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Joe Blowe

All About Rye Whiskey (Part 1)

498 posts in this topic

Last saturday a friend organized a blind tasting of 24 ryes. I'm sure he or I will post some more complete results.

They were:

Thomas Handy - 2 vintages

Sazerac 18 - 2 vintages

Van Winkle Rye

High West Rendezvous

High West 16 year

High West Bou-Rye

Rittenhouse 100

Rittenhouse 80

Wild Turkey 101

Wild Turkey Russell's Reserve

Whistle Pig

Redemption Rye

Pikesville

Old Overholt

Sazerac 6 yr

Old Potrero (can't remember which one)

Vintage Rye 23yr

Jim Beam Rye

(Ri)1

Michters US*1

and a couple more that are escaping me at the moment.

Across the board, the favorites were two vintage each of Sax 18 and Handy, as well as the High West 16 yr, Vintage Rye 23 and Van Winkle Rye. Rittenhouse 100 and Russell's also did well on the second tier.

Whistle Pig was not well liked, generally. Also, the particular Old Potrero we have was so distinct that it stood out immediately, but it was not well liked either.

There was also a vast difference in the amount of "rye-ness", with several whiskeys being noticeably corn-heavy.

Also it should be noted the everything was tasted straight, and things that are good straight may not work as well in cocktails. In a previous tasting, I vastly preferred Vintage Rye 21 over Van Winkle (which has always been one of my favorites) when tasted neat. Surprised, i then tried Manhattans, and the Van Winkle made the better cocktail.

My feeling was at the time, that there were some odd notes in the Van Winkle neat that I didn't like which were covered in the cocktail, and it allowed all of the other amazing notes to come through. The wonderfully balanced Vintage 21 was lost in the cocktail - it was balanced all by itself, and the rounding off effects of the ice, vermouth and bitters just drowned out the spirit.

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The think that amazes me is that you were able to get all these rye's in one spot. As is well stated in this thread many of us find it hard to find more than one or two at retail in our areas.

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Interesting Russell's scored so high. I would rate it lower than WT 101, based on memory.

Agreed, my memory--some 2 years ago now--was that it wasn't particularly distinctive as a *rye* whiskey.

campus five, I'm deeply and personally offended that I wasn't invited to this event :wink: (that's an awesome list!)


 

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Bear in mind that when tasting 24 samples, there's bound to be a ton of subtlety lost.

That being said, I've always dug the rye-ness of Russell's, but not dug the lower proof.

My notes indicated that the 101 seemed "corn-y."

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Has anyone else had McKenzie Rye from Finger Lakes Distilling? It is completely unlike other ryes that I've had (Russel, Wild Turkey, Baby Sazerac). It has an extremely spicy, dry rye presentation. I enjoy it neat, but haven't had much luck mixing with it so far. (And when I'm in the mood for something neat, it's likely to be Scotch.)

http://www.fingerlakesdistilling.com/index.php/our-products


Kindred Cocktails | Craft + Collect + Concoct + Categorize + Community

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Just picked up the new Bulleit 95 Rye, 95% rye mash, 90 proof, probably made at LDI who does Templeton Rye as well (though these are definitely not the same thing w a different label). It's a real nice sipping whiskey for $25, but is surprisingly lacking in rye character.

I did a little comparison w Rittenhouse BIB and Russell's Reserve at http://www.thirstysouth.com/2011/03/01/three-fine-ryes/

The Rittenhouse BIB is a ridiculously good deal, picked mine up for $15. But hard to find.

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I'm in Atlanta - it's not that the Rittenhouse doesn't have distribution, but that it SELLS OUT!


Edited by biskuit (log)

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I'll be visiting my mother in midtown in a couple of weeks and need to fortify myself since she's cranky these days. Where can I find a good selection of ryes (and decent prices) walking distance from 6th Ave and 57th St? The selection of ryes here in the east bay seems limited. I've finally located a source for Redemption, and I like that very much. To me it seems rather delicate (yes, apple-y) in flavor, and I like it for sipping. I've never seen any Rittenhouse here, but I would try it if I found some in NY. Any shopping tips?

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Katie Meadow, "The selection of ryes here in the east bay seems limited."

East Bay as in Berkeley-ish?

Have you checked Ledger's?

Otherwise, a short BART trip can take you to Cask at Market and Kearny in San Francisco (Montgomery stop).


---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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Place an order ahead of time. DrinkUpNY in Brooklyn is free shipping for >$100. Astor is down in the Village, but I bet they deliver, too.

I just returned from NYC, but alas didn't get it together to either order ahead of time or make it to a good store. Opportunity lost. I had 6 bottle of Massachusetts Contraband in my e-Cart before I realized I couldn't guarantee it would arrive before I left.


Kindred Cocktails | Craft + Collect + Concoct + Categorize + Community

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Has anyone else had McKenzie Rye from Finger Lakes Distilling? It is completely unlike other ryes that I've had (Russel, Wild Turkey, Baby Sazerac). It has an extremely spicy, dry rye presentation. I enjoy it neat, but haven't had much luck mixing with it so far. (And when I'm in the mood for something neat, it's likely to be Scotch.)

http://www.fingerlakesdistilling.com/index.php/our-products

I like that Rye quite a lot, and I've had no trouble getting good results mixing it - I found it makes a delicious Manhattan with Carpano Antica (but then, what doesn't? so maybe that's not a good test...) and was also quite happy with it in a Sazerac with Herbsaint Original.

But I'll agree that it's got an interesting enough flavor that I like it straight too. I think it might be the sherry barrels they use for finishing that gives it an unusual twist. I look forward to seeing what they come up with when they can leave it a little longer to age, it's a little young, but surprisingly complex for its youth.

I recently noticed that Fingerlakes has released a bourbon as well, but I haven't had a chance to taste that yet.


"Philadelphia’s premier soup dumpling blogger" - Foobooz

philadining.com

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Katie Meadow, "The selection of ryes here in the east bay seems limited."

East Bay as in Berkeley-ish?

Have you checked Ledger's?

Otherwise, a short BART trip can take you to Cask at Market and Kearny in San Francisco (Montgomery stop).

For that matter, Draegor's in Blackhawk had a decent selection. I found close to a dozen bottles of Rittenhouse BIB there this summer. Cask is always dangerous, I go in there for one thing, and leave with six.

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Field trip to Ledger's scheduled for tomorrow, thanks! Blackhawk maybe not so convenient, but I'll try to remember next time I pass by that way.

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Digging the new Bulleit rye. A little heavier mouthfeel, and a bit sweeter than I am used to. It's not punching through other broad-shouldered ingredients quite like Rittenhouse BIB does, but it is shining through well in simple preparations. Very, very, very good old fashioneds were made the last few nights.

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Place an order ahead of time. DrinkUpNY in Brooklyn is free shipping for >$100.

Thanks for mentioning DrinkUpNY. I'd never heard of them but gave them a look and wound up ordering a couple of whiskies. Of course, I don't qualify for the free shipping (Alaska rarely does) but the shipping cost was quite reasonable at $19.99 for the two bottles.

As for what I ordered:

Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Cask Strength Straight Rye Whiskey

Parker's Heritage Collection 10-Year-Old Wheated Mashbill Cask Strength KSBW (off topic for this thread, of course)

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eje, thanks so much for the Ledger's tip. I never knew about it, but I've driven by it a zillion times. Incredibly sweet people. So, I bit--bought--the Bulleit. It's delicious! And price seems great, compared to Redemption. The Redemption is $27.99 and the Bulleit is $21.99 at Ledgers. BevMo is now selling Redemption for the same price, but other places sell it for more.

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Just picked up a bottle of Templeton at Cask. The employee who grabbed it for me said that what was currently being sold was actually whiskey from a different distillery - she didn't know where - that Templeton was bottling because its own whiskeys weren't ready for bottling yet (not aged long enough).

This sounded strange to me but the employee wasn't really able to tell me much more. Can anyone shed any light on what she was talking about? Other people have told me that this information was not correct.


Pip Hanson | Marvel Bar

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Templeton has a small still at its distillery in Iowa, with which it produces some small batches of products which are sold locally.

The product that it sells commercially as Templeton Rye is produced by LDI in Lawrenceburg, Indiana, and only bottled at the Templeton plant.


---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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FWIW, as far as I know, the Ryes currently known to be made by LDI, (and you can tell if the brand plays up the 95% Rye and 5% Malted Barley Mashbill,) are:

Bulleit Rye

Redemption Rye

Willet 2 Year Rye

Templeton Rye

I believe High West also sometimes sources some Rye Whiskey from LDI for their Whiskies.

edit, oops, the Willet made at LDI is the 2 year rye.


Edited by eje (log)

---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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Does anyone think Templeton tastes and smells like dill? Is this what Chris means by "rye flavor"? I think rye bread tastes a bit like dill.

I did a side-by-side comparison with Rittenhouse BIB, and I still like Rittenhouse much more. I thought it odd that Templeton is almost devoid of any wood taste.


Edited by Kent Wang (log)

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Ouch ouch. Can anyone explain this price disparity? At Ledger's in Berkeley we bought a bottle of Bulleit for $21. Now I'm in NY and today I shopped my mother's midtown neighborhood (admittedly pricey all around) for some rye to last me the week. Did find one place that sells Bulleit....for $52 a bottle! How's that even possible? No Rittenhouse (so elusive!), no Redemption. So I settled for comfy Old Overholt, which only cost me a few dollars more than I pay at home. I don't plan to keep searching, but I'm curious to know if east coast prices are typically higher.

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No, prices aren't that much different on the coasts. I've shopped all around LA, SF, and Portland, and prices are more or less comparable, taking into account distribution issues. That makes me wonder whether Bulleit got a container of cases out west but only a few made it into the NYC market. Who knows.


Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Thanks for the info, Erik.


Pip Hanson | Marvel Bar

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