Reviews

Review: Elijah Craig Rye Whiskey

Recently, Heaven Hill Distillery added a new whiskey to its Elijah Craig lineup – a straight rye whiskey. Like its small batch bourbon sibling, the new rye whiskey is bottled at 94 proof. The mash bill used here is 51% rye, 35% corn, and 14% malted barley.

My excitement for news of a brand extension is always met with a bit of anxiousness. That’s especially true here. After all, Elijah Craig bourbon, in both its small batch and barrel proof forms, is some of the highest caliber whiskey consumers can easily obtain, especially given its value for money. By the way, this new rye whiskey has a suggested retail price of $29.99. It fits right in price-wise, but how does it taste?

The nose features hints of toasted rye grain, maple syrup, vanilla, and spice. Taste-wise, the new rye whiskey offers a wonderfully delightful exhibition of sweet and spicy. Sharp rye notes complement vanilla cake. Layers of baking spice quickly develop, leading to honey and dried fruit. The finish turns a touch dry with a lingering sweet oak note.

Like the other Elijah Craig expressions, this new rye whiskey offers tons of flavor for a reasonable price. But put the cost aside for a moment. This is delicious. It drinks as easily as Elijah Craig Small Batch Bourbon, but doesn’t carry over the big oaky notes. That’s the good news.

The not-so-good news is that this fantastic rye whiskey is only launching in four markets – North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Oregon. It’ll take some time to spread to the rest of the country. Patience is a virtue, unless you can find a mule from one of the aforementioned markets to snag a bottle for you.

Elijahcraig.com

Thanks to Heaven Hill for the sample. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Review: Woodford Reserve Chocolate Malted Rye

Photo courtesy of Woodford Reserve

The latest entry into the Woodford Reserve Master’s Collection, Chocolate Malted Rye sees its rye grain component toasted. Woodford Reserve Master Distiller Chris Morris says, “ the rye malt was toasted to a level that its natural sugars caramelized into a dark chocolate note.”

The mash bill of this straight bourbon whiskey is 70% corn, 15% chocolate malted rye, and 15% distiller’s malt. The whiskey is bottled at 90.4 proof and available at a suggested retail price of $129.99.

The nose reveals a grainy, cocoa forward note alongside hints of vanilla and a touch of spice. On the palate, Tootsie Rolls reign supreme. A bit of vanilla gives way to a bittersweet dark chocolate note. Some spice on the back palate is a nice touch. The finish brings an interesting chocolate-covered orange peel and dry oak.

Every Master’s Collection release I’ve tasted thus far has been nicely balanced. But that’s what’s missing here. Multiple tastings lead me to the same conclusion – that chocolate note tips the flavor balance in its favor. Maybe this whiskey could have improved with 10% rye and 5% chocolate malted rye instead of a full 15% chocolate malted rye.

Though interesting in and of itself, I can’t recommend this one. Disappointing, as I was extremely excited to sample this one upon hearing of its release. Stick to the standard Woodford Reserve, their Double Oaked expression, or even their rye whiskey.

Woodfordreserve.com

Thanks to Woodford Reserve for the sample. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Review: Laphroaig The Ian Hunter Story – Book 1: Unique Character

Oh, Laphroaig. It’s not only one of my favorite peated whiskies, it is one of my favorite whiskies, period. Imagine my joy when I heard about their new series, The Ian Hunter Story. Mr. Hunter was distillery manager between 1908 and 1944. He made important changes in the production process while in charge, like introducing American oak barrels into as maturation vessels. It’s clear he helped mold the flavor of the distillery into what it is today.

To honor Ian Hunter, the distillery is introducing this first entry in the Ian Hunter Story – Book 1: Unique Character. The 30-year-old single malt aged in first-fill bourbon barrels. It’s non-chill filtered and bottled at 46.7% abv.

So, does this whisky live up to it’s story?

At three decades old, this still has that Laphroaig DNA, albeit in a softer delivery. The nose features lemon candy and some peat smoke that’s less in your face than you’d think. As peated whiskies age, the smoky quality softens over time. Ripe orchard fruit, vanilla, and orange blossom honey round out the nose. On the palate, waves of lightly smoked honey arrive with flair, followed by hints of pepper and peat. Aromatic oak and seaweed meet a touch of rancio. The long finish is surprisingly sweet. Salted caramel pairs with toasted old oak and smoked herbs.

My answer to the above question is an emphatic yes! This is some of the loveliest older Laphroaig I’ve ever tasted. Can I use the word delicate to describe Laphroaig? This is the only time I can fathom using that word. It’s intricately flavored and blossoms beautifully in the glass with some time. I’m not going to call a $1,250 bottle of whisky a steal, but…

Thanks to Laphroaig for the sample. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.