Review: Peerless Rye Single Barrel (New Orleans Bourbon Festival)

With the New Orleans Bourbon Festival right around the corner, now is as good a time as ever to take a look at some of their 2019 single barrel picks in a series of short reviews.  A lot of the whiskies in this series are still available in certain New Orleans retail stores and will be poured at the 2019 New Orleans Bourbon Festival.

I anxiously filled my whiskey glass with the New Orleans Bourbon Festival Peerless Rye whiskey.  Anxious because I’ve avoided the brand until now.  Why?  The high price drove me away.  More than $100 for a 2-year-old rye whiskey.  The last cask strength 2-year-old rye I purchased was Willett Family Estate 2-year-old rye, and that was only about $35 a few years back.

This Peerless Rye was actually first poured a few nights prior, during the premiere episode of the whiskey livestream, Another Round – check it out if you already haven’t.   I liked it.  A lot.  Of course, by the time I poured it I’d already had a couple of drams.

But now it’s time to taste it with a clean palate.  Does it hold up?

The nose is extremely rich and decadent, with a dominating butterscotch note.  Hiding behind are hints of grass, vanilla, and maple.  The palate is equally robust and dessert-like.  It’s big and meaty, with butterscotch, maple syrup, rye spice, and an essence of grilled meat.  The medium-long finish showcases the spiciness of the rye grain complemented by a bed of sweetness.

I like it, but I don’t love it.  To me, that butterscotch note is delightfully intense, but in the end dominates everything, which, in turn, diminishes complexity and balance.  This is one of those whiskies in which I can enjoy a single glass but wouldn’t want a second.  Though it seems to be well-made, the syrupy quality isn’t my cup of tea.  I may be in the minority with this opinion, as it sold very quickly at retail.  Remember, whiskey is subjective by nature, and I think I’ll stick with that 2-year-old Willett Rye instead.  7/10

Thanks to the New Orleans Bourbon Festival for the sample.  As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

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