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All About Rye Whiskey (Part 1)


Joe Blowe
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Yes, but for some odd reason you can also get Pikesville rye, which nobody outside the immediate Maryland area in the US can find! (It's my go-to cheap mixing rye, $11 a bottle!)

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Still paying premium for it, but yeah we get that.  It's allegedly Rittenhouse 80* but I seem to prefer it.

 

Exactly, most Americans can't! 

 

(Of course you also get a vast array of indie bottled whiskies and rums which never see the colonial shores)

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Nope. Whistlepig wouldn't enter into my top 10 for ryes (mixing or sipping). I don't care for the dry finish on the Taylor, but it's still better than WP, imo.

 

I doubt I have the technical vocabulary, but I love the spicy finish of the Tayor.  What would be the opposite of dry?  Sweet?  What would be a realistically obtainable rye with the finish that you like?  I have yet to try Knob Creek.

 

For anyone:  is Whistlepig supposed to be bitter, or is it just me?  I have Clay Risen's American Whiskey Bourbon & Rye out from the library.  Risen seems to love Whistlepig but does not rate Taylor (although he likes the Taylor bourbons).  The tasting notes for Whistlepig do not mention bitter.

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I doubt I have the technical vocabulary, but I love the spicy finish of the Tayor.  What would be the opposite of dry?  Sweet?  What would be a realistically obtainable rye with the finish that you like?  I have yet to try Knob Creek.

 

I don't mean dry as a descriptor of flavor, but as a physical sensation. A sip of the Taylor Rye leaves my mouth parched, similar to an unbalanced wine extremely high in tannin. Very few spirits have this effect on me. I know there are a few others, but can't think of any at the moment. I don't find Knob Creek all that interesting. For something in the same direction as Taylor, but different, I'd recommend the Old Potrero bottlings from Anchor.

Edited by KD1191 (log)

True rye and true bourbon wake delight like any great wine...dignify man as possessing a palate that responds to them and ennoble his soul as shimmering with the response.

DeVoto, The Hour

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I would exclude the 18th Century-style Potrero as the absence of charred oak aging makes it a very different beast, tasking closer to new make than the other Potreros and not much like the Taylor. 

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”In Demerara some of the rum producers have a unique custom of placing chunks of raw meat in the casks to assist in aging, to absorb certain impurities, and to add a certain distinctive character.” -Peter Valaer, "Foreign and Domestic Rum," 1937

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I don't mean dry as a descriptor of flavor, but as a physical sensation. A sip of the Taylor Rye leaves my mouth parched, similar to an unbalanced wine extremely high in tannin. Very few spirits have this effect on me. I know there are a few others, but can't think of any at the moment. I don't find Knob Creek all that interesting. For something in the same direction as Taylor, but different, I'd recommend the Old Potrero bottlings from Anchor.

 

I am revisiting a glass of Taylor.  It is almost as if we are descibing different elephants.  I don't taste or feel much tannin on the Taylor finish.  Until I find a way to use up my other ryes I plan to reserve the bottle of Taylor for drinking neat.  It is very much to my taste.

 

Now that my glass is empty I'm about to go mix up a recipe of Imbibe! whiskey punch with Whistlepig, using S&C for the Jamaican rum.  If Whistlepig still comes through as bitter I shall be very disappointed.

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Not much joy.  The Whistlepig punch is potable, but not as good as Rittenhouse, nor anything else I've tried.  The bottle is a sunk cost, unfortunately, and I will try to find a good home for it rather than the dumpster.  I might try a Trinidad Sour before I give up.

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Yes, but for some odd reason you can also get Pikesville rye, which nobody outside the immediate Maryland area in the US can find! (It's my go-to cheap mixing rye, $11 a bottle!)

I buy it every time I drive through Maryland on I95.  There's a big liquor store at state line (called, oddly enough, State Line Liquors) that stocks it - I think 1.75L is around $17.

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

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I am revisiting a glass of Taylor.  It is almost as if we are descibing different elephants.  I don't taste or feel much tannin on the Taylor finish.

 

Maybe I got a bad bottle...or, you got a good one.  :smile:

 

My gold standard for rye is the Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye, equally impeccable neat and in spirit-forward cocktails. Naturally, it's become something of a white whale, but I've found it sitting on the shelves twice since the Pappy craze struck, so I guess it's not as impossible to find as the bourbon. If I need something more powerful for a drink with citrus or flavorful liqueurs, I go for the Wild Turkey 101 or Rittenhouse 100. I miss my bottle of Willett, but not that much with those two options right behind it.

 

As I mentioned above, I think the Old Potrero whiskeys, including the 18th Century, are exceptionally interesting. They were all profoundly helpful to me in understanding "what is rye?". They demand attention, but reward it.

True rye and true bourbon wake delight like any great wine...dignify man as possessing a palate that responds to them and ennoble his soul as shimmering with the response.

DeVoto, The Hour

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Not much joy.  The Whistlepig punch is potable, but not as good as Rittenhouse, nor anything else I've tried.  The bottle is a sunk cost, unfortunately, and I will try to find a good home for it rather than the dumpster.  I might try a Trinidad Sour before I give up.

 

Have you tried an old fashioned? If bitterness is the issue, dose it with a bit more sugar.

True rye and true bourbon wake delight like any great wine...dignify man as possessing a palate that responds to them and ennoble his soul as shimmering with the response.

DeVoto, The Hour

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  • 3 weeks later...

Odd, after getting dinner mostly fixed tonight I decided to try a glass of Whistlepig again -- dead sober -- while waiting for a vacuum marination to complete.  As you may recall three weeks or so ago I found my first taste of Whistlepig quite bitter.  But now the bitterness is gone.

 

Why this is I have no idea.  I confess now the Whistlepig is rather nice.

 

But I am so confused.  Why would Whistlepig taste so bitter last time, while the Taylor I was drinking at the same time did not?  One possibility is that the Whistlepig has been sitting somewhile with an air space in the bottle.  However much that seems unlikely.

 

I'm also remembering I had fixed a very bitter mai tai once upon a time that I have not been able to replicate...fortunately.

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Odd, after getting dinner mostly fixed tonight I decided to try a glass of Whistlepig again -- dead sober -- while waiting for a vacuum marination to complete.  As you may recall three weeks or so ago I found my first taste of Whistlepig quite bitter.  But now the bitterness is gone.

 

Why this is I have no idea.  I confess now the Whistlepig is rather nice.

 

But I am so confused.  Why would Whistlepig taste so bitter last time, while the Taylor I was drinking at the same time did not?  One possibility is that the Whistlepig has been sitting somewhile with an air space in the bottle.  However much that seems unlikely.

 

I'm also remembering I had fixed a very bitter mai tai once upon a time that I have not been able to replicate...fortunately.

 

I have experienced that tendency with more than a few bottles, so much so that I am not inclined to pass judgement on a bottle, especially a newly opened one, until I have tried it several times over a few days or weeks. Can't recall that Whistlepig was this way but can't say for sure it wasn't either.

 

Interestingly I have never had a bottle I enjoyed when newly opened that tasted bad on retasting a few days or weeks later. Some people feel a bottle, especially one that is getting around 1/3 left in it, can begin to oxidize especially if it has been sitting for a long time (months & years even) and will either rebottle into a smaller bottle or use gas like with a wine but I have so far not had a bottle that I thought had deteriorated with time if it was tightly sealed and kept in a relatively well controlled place out of direct prolonged light exposure.

 

A bottle inadvertently left open or poorly sealed can deteriorate significantly though and potentially quickly, sometimes in a day or two or perhaps even a few hours.

If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and a man. ~Mark Twain

Some people are like a Slinky. They are not really good for anything, but you still can't help but smile when you shove them down the stairs...

~tanstaafl2

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I'm trying another glass of Whistlepig tonight, this time after dinner.  (And not sober, dead or otherwise.)  The Whistlepig is even better than a few night's ago.  I had to get up (twice) to assure myself that I had poured from the right bottle.

 

Can't say I understand it but I am not complaining.

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  • 1 month later...

I've liked the new Knob Creek rye for Old Fashioneds and Manhattans. But not at the NYC prices ($45 for 750 ml). When I visit down in Houston, I pick up a few bottles at $30 and take them back in my checked baggage.

Price differences are always interesting. Can't see any reason Knob Creek should cost 50% more in NYC than Houston. I also get Booker's down there for a similar discount against the NYC prices. But the strange thing is that the price differences sometimes work the other way.

 

Liquor prices make no sense whatsoever.  Case in point, I'm now able to get Wiser's Legacy for 16 dollars (!) out the door at one store.  Now it's not American rye but at 16 bucks and 90 proof, it's a no-brainer.  Makes a fine cocktail.  But I've seen plenty of prices the other way too.

 

And I agree about the Knob rye.  At 30 bucks it's a good deal.  

 

-Mike

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Mind sharing the name of the store?  :wink:

DrunkLab.tumblr.com

”In Demerara some of the rum producers have a unique custom of placing chunks of raw meat in the casks to assist in aging, to absorb certain impurities, and to add a certain distinctive character.” -Peter Valaer, "Foreign and Domestic Rum," 1937

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I'm trying another glass of Whistlepig tonight, this time after dinner. (And not sober, dead or otherwise.) The Whistlepig is even better than a few night's ago. I had to get up (twice) to assure myself that I had poured from the right bottle.

Can't say I understand it but I am not complaining.

I find in many cases whiskey changes once opened and there is more air exposure. Changes in the glass as well

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  • 2 months later...

Interesting article about MGP and the "distilleries" that essentially re-brand their stuff.

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/07/28/your-craft-whiskey-is-probably-from-a-factory-distillery-in-indiana.html

 

Well known in the whiskey nerd circles I hang out in but largely unknown to the "average" consumer. Another take on it from David Driscoll at K&L Wines.

 

I don't fully agree with him (Or maybe it is just that I am not a Stephen Colbert fan - then again I am an old fart!). I think that all producers, whether they distill themselves or are an NDP, should be required to disclose the state of origin of the spirit as the law requires in §5.36(d) for whiskey and straight whiskey and should be substantially fined if they don't. I also think they should be required to indicate the Distilled Spirits Plant or "DSP" number as well on all bottles (and not just Bottled in Bond whiskey as is the case now) although that will likely never happen.

 

I do agree that if the consumer doesn't care about this information and likes to drink what is in the bottle more power to him. But all producers, distillers and non-distillers alike should be held to the same standard (and there should be a minimum standard!) and the current minimal requirements are in no way burdensome in my opinion.

 

I certainly don't depend on the label to tell me what is in a bottle but it seems like a rather greasy hillside when we allow producers to ignore the requirements for a consumable beverage with impunity. It seems a short step to making something you claim to be whiskey that isn't in fact the real thing and then a shorter step still to putting something in a bottle that not only isn't what it purports to be but is also dangerous to consume (Well, more dangerous than the alcohol already is!) because it happens to be a way for someone to make a fast buck. Nobody can be so foolish as to think that someone won't try it.

 

After all it is why the regulations came into being in the first place!

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If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and a man. ~Mark Twain

Some people are like a Slinky. They are not really good for anything, but you still can't help but smile when you shove them down the stairs...

~tanstaafl2

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I'm sipping some Tom Handy at the moment. It's ... difficult to pull it apart. Something so well crafted that, while complex, is difficult not to take as a whole. Rich. Sugar: not in the bland sweet sense, but in the deep, complex sense of molasses. Pepper. Allspice. Just a hint of bitterness. Of ... grass? Something green on the finish. Superb. 

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Chris Taylor

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