In this current whiskey craze we’re living through, it’s hard to find a well-aged straight rye whiskey. If you’re lucky enough to run into a bottle at a store, the price tag will most likely give you a heart attack. At the very least, your wallet will give you the cold shoulder for a while.
Enter The Cooper Spirits Company.
A couple of years back they released the 13-year-old Lock, Stock, and Barrel Rye for just over $100. A 16-year-old sibling of hit shelves last year at a slightly higher price. For 2017, Cooper Spirits Co. has unveiled Hochstadter’s Family Reserve, a cask-strength (123.8 proof), 16-year-old rye. All of it is sourced from Alberta Distillers Limited in Canada, and it’s distilled from a 100% rye mash bill. Like the other two ryes I mentioned earlier, Hochstadter’s Family Reserve is a limited edition. Only 7,500 bottles have hit the market for a suggested retail price of $199.
Don’t be turned off because this whiskey was distilled in Canada. The bold nose explodes with hints of dark caramel, nutmeg & cloves, buttered rye bread, and cigar box. Some burnt orange peel shows itself with some airtime. Air helps this whiskey. It’s a bit closed off at first. The all rye grain mash bill shows on the palate. An initial burst of rye spice hits and quickly calms, allowing other notes to shine – spice cake, dark caramel, and a touch of red fruit. Mid-palate is where aged tobacco leaf and some oak spice and tannin start to develop. The finish is long and warm with nice citrus and spiced honey notes.
What’s in the glass is really nice. In fact it’s one of the better rye whiskies I’ve had in recent memory. It is robust and shows off the complexities of the rye grain nicely without a big oak character normally found in older whiskies. It’s priced about where it needs to be priced. Those looking for better value should try to find last year’s Lock Stock & Barrel 16-year-old expression. It’s priced $50 cheaper and comes in at 107 proof. 9/10