rye whiskey

Jack Daniel’s Rye Whiskey Review

Photo courtesy of Jack Daniel’s

Jack fans rejoice, for the the planets have aligned – Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Straight Rye Whiskey is finally upon us.  Over the last couple of years, the brand has released unaged, rested, and single barrel rye whiskies using their first new mash bill since Prohibition.  The single barrel expressions can vary in flavor, while the unaged and rested ryes were previews of what was to come.  This new batched rye whiskey is the mass market release that Brown-Forman was aiming for.

Bottled at a hearty 90 proof, Jack Daniel’s Rye comes from a mash bill of 70% rye, 18% corn, and 12% malted barley.  Like it’s world famous black label sibling, Jack Daniel’s Rye is charcoal filtered before maturation.

On the nose, rye grain cuts through caramel-topped banana ice cream.  A whiff of fresh ginger arrives with a little airtime.  Taste-wise, rich maple syrup hits the palate initially, followed by a dual blast of rye grain and a myriad of baking spices.  Waves of creamy vanilla calm the spices down.  The medium finish plays on the sweet and spicy theme that defines this rye whiskey.  

Kudos to the folks at Jack Daniel’s for putting together a great tasting and affordable rye whiskey.  The suggested retail price for a bottle is $26.99, just a few dollars more than the famous black label.  Fans of Jack who didn’t want to pay the $50 premium for the single barrel rye should reach for this release.  It’s damn near half the price and delivers a solid experience. 7.5/10

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


Barrell Rye Batch 001 Whiskey Review

The folks at Barrell Craft Spirits have finally answered my prayers with the release of their first batch of rye whiskey.  This initial batch is aged 4.5 years and features rye whiskies distilled in Indiana and Tennessee.  A combination of  “sweeter malted barley rye barrels and spicy high rye barrels”, Barrell Rye Batch 001 comes across as a bit different than you’re used to.  I’ll explain in my tasting notes below.  Barrell Rye is bottled at a cask strength of 58.5% abv, or 117 proof, to preserve the full character of the spirit.

Rye grain is at the forefront of both the nose and palate.  On the nose, the whiskey comes across as rich and buttery as well as spicy.  Here, the spice I refer to is cinnamon and allspice.  A bit of caramel and a touch of vanilla extract round out the nose.  On entry, an initial blast of buttery toffee transitions into waves of spice, butterscotch, and slightly herbaceous notes.  The interplay of sweet and spice is nice here.  The finish is long, with slightly sweet toasted rye bread and dark malt lingering.

It seems the intention with Barrell Rye Batch 001 is to put a spotlight on the grain.  That is partially accomplished with the young age.  What makes this release unique is the blending of two completely different types of rye whiskies.  The end result is a grain-forward rich, sweet and spicy rye whiskey.  While not utterly complex, Barrell Rye Batch 001 is immensely enjoyable.  Part of the fun is realizing you’re drinking something just a bit different than you’re used to.  7.5/10


Michter’s US*1 Toasted Barrel Finish Rye Whiskey Review

Oh boy!  

Michter’s US*1 Barrel Strength Rye is one of my favorite uncut whiskies.  It’s not the most complex rye I’ve tasted from Michter’s.  Their 10-year-old rye holds that honor.  However, the barrel strength rye is an extremely enjoyable pour full of rye spice and brown sugar richness.

With this new release, Michter’s takes that rye whiskey and lets it rest in toasted barrels for a short amount of time, just like their previous releases of Toasted Barrel Bourbon.  This is the first time they’ve barrel finished a rye.  The barrels used for the finishing process, as the name implies, have been toasted and not charred.  The wood used for the barrels was air dried for 24 months.

What does this toasted barrel do to the base rye whiskey?  In short, it intensifies the flavors.

The nose is ripe with dark brown sugar, vanilla and a cornucopia of baking spices.  The latter is more pronounced here than in Michter’s Barrel Proof Rye.  On the palate, this toasted barrel-finished rye comes across as rich and bittersweet.  Dark caramel and burnt sugar kick things off, followed by lovely toasted rye bread and a cabinet full of baking spices like allspice, cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon.  A layer of vanilla cream acts as a counterbalance against all the spice.  The medium-length finish features spiced caramel and a touch of smoke.

Wow.  The barrel finishing added a different dimension to Michter’s rye whiskey character.  To add even more uniqueness, this release is a single barrel whiskey, which means each barrel could be slightly different.  My 110 proof sample came from barrel 17C570.  It’s simply fantastically rich and flavorful.  The price is right, too.  $75 for a 750ml bottle.  Now the bad news – this is a limited release and not a regular offering.  Fans of Michter’s rye whiskies should rush to pick this one up.  9/10