Review: Ragged Branch Rye Whiskey

After looking at Ragged Branch’s bourbon offerings, I thought we’d spend some time with a couple of the distillery’s rye expressions – a standard rye whiskey and the 2020 New Orleans Bourbon Festival release.

Ragged Branch Virginia straight rye whiskey is a single barrel release. It’s also bottled-in-bond, which means it’s bottled at 100 proof and at least four years old.

On the nose, hints of spiced rum, cinnamon stick, molasses, and rye grain are prominent. There’s a slight fruitiness on the palate to match the whiskey’s caramel lushness – think bananas foster without a HUGE banana note. Baking spices season this rye appropriately, complementing rather than overpowering it’s sweetness. The long finish sees slightly toasted oak, brown sugar, and spice. Overall, Ragged Branch Rye is surprisingly sweeter than expected. Where the distillery’s bourbon offerings feature the main grain prominently, the rye here takes a slight backseat. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. One more observation is that this rye tastes far beyond its “at least four years” age. Good stuff.

Photo credit: Tracy Napolitano

The Ragged Branch 2020 New Orleans Bourbon Festival release utilizes the same undisclosed rye mash bill as their standard bottling. This one, however, is bottled at cask strength. In this case it’s 126.06 proof.

This single barrel, cask strength beast carries over the DNA from it’s BIB sibling while amplifying those notes. Lots of brown sugar on the nose, which sits alongside cinnamon-sprinkled rye bread, and baking spices. The palate closely follows, featuring hints of maple syrup, baking spice and toasted oak. There’s a dark fruity jam on the mid-palate. The long finish sees the spices ramp up and brings a touch of added heat. A solid rye offering that’ll please fans of sweeter style rye whiskies. Recommended!

Thanks to Ragged Branch for the samples. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

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