rye whiskey

Review: Michter’s 10-year-old Rye Whiskey (2018)

Michter’s has released their coveted 10-year-old rye whiskey for the first time in more than a year.  The single barrel expression consistently ranks among my favorite rye whiskies. Just like the last time, Michter’s 10-year-old rye barrels were selected by Master of Maturation Andrea Wilson and approved by Master Distiller Pamela Heilmann.

Though Michter’s is currently distilling at their new distillery (a place I really need to visit), the stocks that make up this whiskey came through contract distilling.  That’s different from sourcing whiskey.  Contract distilling means making your whiskey at an existing distillery to your specifications (mash bill, unique yeast strain, etc).

Bottled at 46.4% ABV, or 93.8 proof, Michter’s 10yr rye undergoes the company’s “signature filtration.”  My sample bottle came from barrel no. 18E559.

The nose on this whiskey always does it for me – dark, rich caramels with an abundance of baking spices like nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon, and cardamom, as well as a bit of toasted oak.  On the palate, the whiskey doesn’t disappoint.  Layers and layers of dark caramel wash over the front palate as those lovely spice notes ramp up in intensity.  A little bit of toasted rye is present, as is a touch of vanilla pod.  A dark chocolate note appears mid-palate, along with a touch of leather and oak.  The finish features more caramel alongside toasted coconut,  dried fruit, and spice.

Michter’s has another winner on their hands with this expression.  It keeps in line with a richness found in a lot of Michter’s whiskies.  Decadent is a great descriptor here.  Quite lovely.  A bottle runs a suggested retail price of $160, and I think it’s worth every penny.  Nicely done.  9/10

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

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Review: Kentucky Owl Rye Whiskey (Batch 2)

Shortly after receiving a lot of generally positive buzz from its initial offering of rye whiskey, Kentucky Owl has released batch two. The sourced whiskey, a Kentucky straight rye, is 11 years old and bottled at 101.8 proof, or 50.9% ABV. The company does not disclose which distillery (or distilleries) the whiskey came from. A bottle of this batch of Kentucky Owl should cost you about $200.

I do love a nicely aged rye whiskey, and this one doesn’t disappoint. The nose features hints of toasted rye grain, toffee, cherry and a generous sprinkle of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom. Those notes carry over onto the palate. Juicy red cherries and toffee kick things off, developing into a melange of baking spices. The very notable rye grain character is ever present. Things start to become a touch dry on the back palate, with hints of leather and oak being added to the mix. The long finish is dry, warming, and a bit spicy.

All in all, Kentucky Owl rye whiskey batch two is a wonderful example of a well-aged rye whiskey, a category that doesn’t include many entries these days. My only concern is the whiskey’s suggested price of $200. It’s a big increase in price from batch one.

Keep in mind that, while price does not influence the score, it’s hard to justify a purchase at that price. I paid $135 for my bottle, which is well below the suggested retail price and much, much lower than the secondary market price. I know older rye whiskies are hard to come by these days, and people are happy to pay for them. Just good old capitalism at work, I suppose. As for me, it’s a hard pass at $200. But at the $135 price I paid, I’d happily purchase another.

8.5/10

Review: Knob Creek Cask Strength Rye Whiskey

New to the Knob Creek limited edition family is this beauty – a cask strength, unfiltered, 9-year-old rye whiskey. In this case, cask strength means 119.6 proof. The one off (?) expression was barreled in 2009. Though there is no explicit age statement on the label, press materials stated this is 9-years-old.

A sharp eyed viewer mentioned not seeing the word “straight” on the label. I reached out to Beam, and they informed me this is in fact a straight rye whiskey, just not labeled as such.

On the nose, hints of dark caramel and toasted rye bread are joined by baking spice, orange peel, and leather notes. The palate sees more of the same. The rye grain isn’t as prominent as other high rye whiskies due to the seemingly smaller amount of rye in the mash bill, though it is at least 51%. It’s here in the form of a pleasing buttered rye toast, so no sharpness or dill note. Dark caramel and dark brown sugar add sweetness and richness, while the familiar Jim Beam roasted peanut is ever present, as is a generous sprinkling of baking spices. A touch of orange peel and some leather on the backend add more complexity. Finally some astringent old oak leads us into the finish, which is long, bittersweet and somewhat spicy. Compared to Knob Creek Small Batch Rye, this expression comes across as less sweet with a richer, more complex flavor.

The best part here is the price. In a world that sees a large percentage of limited edition releases introduced at the $100+ price point, Knob Creek Cask Strength Rye comes in at $69.99. Kudos to whoever made that decision. Older rye whiskies are becoming more and more expensive.

My conclusion – this is a no-brainer purchase. It’s that simple. 9/10

Knobcreek.com

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

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