rye whiskey

Review: Michter’s Barrel Strength Rye Whiskey (2019)

One thing Michter’s does well is produce a rich whiskey. Their April 2019 release of barrel strength rye whiskey is no exception. I consider it one of the brand’s trademark characteristics.

Michter’s Master of Maturation Andrea Wilson may have an explanation for that. “The increased corn and malted barley used in the rye recipe really allows the barrel to transform the product into a super smooth, rich, and complex rye whiskey with an elegance on the palate.”

Another factor could be the low barrel entry proof Michter’s employs. Straight whiskey requires barrel entry proof no higher than 125 proof, or 62.5% ABV. Michter’s whiskey goes into the barrel at a much lower 103 proof.

The single barrel whiskies in this release have an average bottling proof of 110.8. My sample bottle, 19C472, is right under that at 109.8 proof. It’s where I’d typically add a splash of water, but not here. This whiskey is fantastic right out of the bottle.

The nose features hints of brown sugar, maple syrup, rye toast, vanilla, and some oak. On the palate, things aren’t as sweet as the nose suggests. Sure, the rich brown sugar is there, but it’s accompanied by orange peel, cardamom, bitter herbs, and rye spice. That last one ramps up in intensity to a satisfying but not overwhelming level. The finish features spiced cocoa, caramel, and tobacco.

Single barrels are different by nature. So while yours may vary a little, the big picture in terms of flavor profile remains constant barrel to barrel. The good news is Michter’s barrel strength rye whiskey is an example of a not-too-spicy rye whiskey with slightly concentrated flavors. It’s the right flavor delivered at the right proof. It’s worth every penny of the suggested retail price of $75. What boggles my mind is why this bold expression isn’t as popular as some of Michter’s older age-stated whiskies. It’s cheaper by a large fraction, but can still be somewhat easily found. I guess that just means there is more for the rest of us. Highly recommended. 8.5/10

michters.com

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

Review: Peerless Rye Single Barrel (New Orleans Bourbon Festival)

With the New Orleans Bourbon Festival right around the corner, now is as good a time as ever to take a look at some of their 2019 single barrel picks in a series of short reviews.  A lot of the whiskies in this series are still available in certain New Orleans retail stores and will be poured at the 2019 New Orleans Bourbon Festival.

I anxiously filled my whiskey glass with the New Orleans Bourbon Festival Peerless Rye whiskey.  Anxious because I’ve avoided the brand until now.  Why?  The high price drove me away.  More than $100 for a 2-year-old rye whiskey.  The last cask strength 2-year-old rye I purchased was Willett Family Estate 2-year-old rye, and that was only about $35 a few years back.

This Peerless Rye was actually first poured a few nights prior, during the premiere episode of the whiskey livestream, Another Round – check it out if you already haven’t.   I liked it.  A lot.  Of course, by the time I poured it I’d already had a couple of drams.

But now it’s time to taste it with a clean palate.  Does it hold up?

The nose is extremely rich and decadent, with a dominating butterscotch note.  Hiding behind are hints of grass, vanilla, and maple.  The palate is equally robust and dessert-like.  It’s big and meaty, with butterscotch, maple syrup, rye spice, and an essence of grilled meat.  The medium-long finish showcases the spiciness of the rye grain complemented by a bed of sweetness.

I like it, but I don’t love it.  To me, that butterscotch note is delightfully intense, but in the end dominates everything, which, in turn, diminishes complexity and balance.  This is one of those whiskies in which I can enjoy a single glass but wouldn’t want a second.  Though it seems to be well-made, the syrupy quality isn’t my cup of tea.  I may be in the minority with this opinion, as it sold very quickly at retail.  Remember, whiskey is subjective by nature, and I think I’ll stick with that 2-year-old Willett Rye instead.  7/10

Thanks to the New Orleans Bourbon Festival for the sample.  As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Store Pick Review: Calandro’s Supermarket 1792 Full Proof and Knob Creek Single Barrel Rye

Calandro’s Supermarket in Baton Rouge, Louisiana just released a couple of store picks they thought I’d be interested in trying. Who am I to turn down whiskey? Mark Calandro and his son Taylor taste and choose the barrels for their stores. Let’s get to tasting.

First up is 1792 Full Proof. This goes into the barrel at 125 proof. After maturation, the whiskey is proofed down to that same proof. Because that could just mean a couple of proof points, this is basically barrel proof bourbon. The nose is rich with hints of caramel, red fruit and spice. Taste-wise, we’re talking about layer after layer of decadent caramel upfront. Additionally, hints of graham cracker and red fruits develop alongside some baking spice and leather. The finish is long, with lingering notes of barrel char and sweet oak. Calandro’s 1792 Full Proof is big, rich, and worth every penny of its $49.99 cost. 8.5/10

Next up is their Knob Creek Single Barrel Rye, currently one of the first of these releases in Louisiana AND the supermarket chain’s first rye whiskey picks. Knob Creek Single Barrel Rye is bottled at 115 proof. The nose is a touch muted at first, but becomes a bit livelier with a little airtime. Aromas of rye spice, fruit, vanilla, and lightly roasted coffee abound. On the palate, a sweet brown sugar entry develops hints of toasted rye grain, cherries, and wood spice. The finish is long and warming, with hints of sweet vanilla and spicy rye. $39.99 8/10

Great picks from Calandro’s! I am excited to see what they bring into the store next.

Thanks to Calandro’s for the generous samples. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.