Seven year old barrels of 95/5 Indiana rye whisky presented at barrel proof (113.2 proof). That’s Four Gate’s latest release, their first rye, on paper. But you have to look deeper to get the full picture.
Four Gate is known for its skillful blending as well its penchant for barrel finishing. A quick perusal of their website will show you some of their quirkier barrel finishes – ex-sherry rum casks, curaçao gin casks, and on and on. Especially interesting is their occasion use of split-stave casks, where barrels are constructed with alternating charred and toasted staves.
River Kelvin Rye, which is batch 7’s official name, is a straight rye whiskey presented as a peek of what they’re working with for the near future. It’s their base whiskey that will be later finished in their split-stave barrels this holiday season as well as ruby port-rum barrels in 2021. Given their fantastic past releases, I can’t wait for these upcoming ones.
But first, how’s the rye?
Nicely aged is my first thought. That famous, or infamous depending on your point of view, 95% rye 5% malted barley mash bill from Indiana can start to seem familiar with its particular dill note. Not so much on this rye. The rye grain shines on the nose along with hints of brown sugar, red fruit, and vanilla. It’s surprisingly not too sharp and not too spicy. On the palate, caramelized fruit and brown sugar are complemented by toasted rye grain and slightly astringent oak. There’s a touch of dill and a little earthiness underneath. The long finish delves into sweet and spicy territory with a lingering sweet oak note.
Four Gate River Kelvin Rye is a delicious, balanced rye whiskey on its own. The thought of barrel finishing this rye in the future is simply mouthwatering. The whiskey nerd in me won’t allow me to buy this whiskey without purchasing the two future releases and vice versa. I want to compare and contrast to taste just what the barrel finishing adds to this wonderful base rye. And if you happen to fall into the percentage of folks who don’t care for barrel finishing in their whiskey, Four Gate batch 7 will easily quench your thirst for a solid, well-aged rye whiskey.