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Best Rye Whiskey

 

The Fifty Best Rye Whiskey Tasting 2018


The Tasting:
The Fifty Best held a “blind” tasting of 36 American rye whiskies with a panel of 15 judges. Strict tasting rules were applied. The order of service was established beforehand by lottery. The ryes were poured into fresh glasses from new sealed bottles, and served at room temperature. Each of the ryes were judged and scored separately. Only ice water, unflavored unsalted crackers and chips were available to cleanse the palate.

The judges wrote down their impressions of each product on score sheets. The scoring was done on a 5-point system, with 5 as the best. Double-Gold, Gold, Silver and Bronze medals were awarded according to a set range of final point scores received from the judges. The tasting notes that follow are summaries of the judges’ opinions, with all replicated commentary eliminated. The distilleries and states of origin are identified for each brand.



DOUBLE GOLD MEDAL WINNERS

Sagamore Spirit Vintner's Finish Rye Whiskey
Blend of straight rye whiskies.
(Sagamore Spirit, Baltimore, MD) 98.4° prf

Nose: Caramel, chocolate, maple, molasses, brown sugar, sugarcane, vanilla, stewed apple, dried cherries, apricot, citrus, sweet nuts, cinnamon, clove, smooth spice, earthy, maple-wood, oak, cognac.
Palate: Toffee, cocoa, creamy, molasses, huge bouquet of fruit, apple, dried banana, ginger, apricot pits, walnut, roasted nuts, sweet nuts, bitter almond, toasty, straw, herbal, mint, spicy, spiced oak, woody, cedar.
Finish: Apricot, dried banana, brown sugar, honey, subtle Amaro, spice, clove, pepper, woody, well-balanced.


Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal



Sagamore Spirit Vintner's Finish Rye Whiskey



Hillrock Estate Double Cask Rye Whiskey
(Hillrock Estate Distillery, NY) 90° prf

Nose: Caramel, nougat, dark chocolate, cream, vanilla, honey, apricot, cherry, ripe plums, ripe bananas, dried apricot, plantains, toast, dry cocoa, coffee, black walnuts, sandalwood, wormwood, nutmeg, spice, musty, dark spiced rum, complex, fragrant.
Palate: Caramel, toffee, cherry, boysenberry, very ripe banana, quince, green apple, fig, cinnamon syrup, buckwheat, toast, nutty, clove, allspice, nutmeg, tarragon, jalapeño, sweet oak, heavy, rich, bold, complex.
Finish: Chocolate-covered cherry, cacao, vanilla, demerara syrup, honey, coffee, tobacco, oak, smooth, balanced, tasty, rich, elegant.


Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal



Hillrock Estate Double Cask Rye Whiskey



Rabbit Hole Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey
(Rabbit Hole Distilling, KY) 95° prf
95% rye. Aged over 2 yrs.

Nose: Toffee, caramel, nougat, molasses, maple, sugarcane, vanilla, cherry, apricot, dried apricots, orange, citrus, rye, caraway seeds, mint, hazelnut, cinnamon, nutmeg, leather, toasty, oak.
Palate: Caramel, baked apple with baking spice, molasses, maple, bubblegum, berries, citrus, orange peel, kettle corn, chocolate, cocoa, rye, pumpernickel, wheat, grain, caraway, tea leaves, herb, nuts, clove, cinnamon, allspice, spice, pepper, leather, woody, cedar, oak.
Finish: Caramel, toffee, vanilla, rye, pumpernickel, wheat, peppermint, spearmint, cinnamon, dry pepper, peppery, spicy, leather, zesty, great finish.


Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal



Rabbit Hole Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey



Whip Saw Rye Whiskey
(Splinter Group, Napa, CA) 90° prf

Nose: Butterscotch, heavy toffee, salted caramel, candied cashews, vanilla, cherry, apple, coconut, pineapple, dried apricot, toasted almonds, clove, nutmeg, Earl Grey tea, toasty, oak, new white oak.
Palate: Butterscotch, chocolate, cocoa nibs, milk chocolate, cream, buttery, vanilla, cream soda, cherry soda, pineapple, cinnamon, clove, peppery, spicy, nutmeg, oatmeal, malted barley, sour mash, oak, woody, dry, balanced, clean, fiery, zesty.
Finish: Caramel, vanilla, floral, heather, eucalyptus, nutty, spicy, peat, tannic, woody, oak, balanced, rich amber, smooth.


Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal



Whip Saw Rye Whiskey



GOLD MEDAL WINNERS

Town Branch Rye Whiskey
(Alltech Lexington Brewing & Distilling Co., KY) 100° prf

Nose: Caramel, ginger-honey syrup, baked apple, coconut, raisins, dates, cherry, citrus, mint, floral, grain, tree nuts, walnuts, clove, spicy, oak.
Palate: Caramel, maple, demerara syrup, vanilla, honey, stewed strawberry, tamarind, pineapple, plum, orange, strong lemon, citrus, ginger, rye flour, sweet straw, almonds, roasted chestnuts, tarragon, tropical spice, allspice, clove, smoke, oak.
Finish: Spicy dried fruit, strawberry syrup, pie crust, orange zest, lemon, nutmeg, hot cinnamon, spicy, smoke, woody, smooth, zesty.

Gold Medal
Gold medal



Town Branch Rye Whiskey



No. 4 Westchester Rye Whiskey
(Still the One Distillery, NY) 90° prf
100% rye. Aged 3 yrs.

Nose: Caramel, nougat, brown sugar, maple, vanilla, honey, dried apricot, apricots, dehydrated pineapple, violet, truffle oil, leather, wet stones, oak, woody, hints of sweetness, elegant.
Palate: Butterscotch, caramel, nougat, brown sugar, maple, vanilla, apricot, herbal, mint, vegetal, grainy, toasted nuts, cinnamon, clove, tarragon, spice, pepper, mineral, leather, peaty, smoky, woody, oak, sweet/tart balance, balanced grain, extremely complex, smooth.
Finish: Cocoa, vanilla, buttery, maple, black cherry, peach, orange peel, tarragon, spicy, very peppery, oak, balanced, cognac-like.

Gold Medal
Gold medal



No. 4 Westchester Rye Whiskey



Cooper's Ransom Rye Whiskey
(Cooperstown Distillery, NY)
Barrel strength 102° prf
Blend of 1 & 2 year old rye whiskies.
80% locally grown New York State rye.

Nose: Butterscotch, caramel, cream, toffee, vanilla, sugarcane, maple, honey, banana, apricot, orange, citrus, orange peel, wild flowers, sweet grain, caraway, nuttiness, leather, oak.
Palate: Toffee, maple, orange, orange peel, apricot pits, cherry, mint, tea, black tea leaves, rye, toast, nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, spicy, bold spice, wood, oak, balanced, smooth, rich.
Finish: Toffee, caramel, apricot pits, citrus, herbs, mint, toasted canella, clove, allspice, spice, white pepper, black pepper, peppery, tannic, light wood, oak, perfect.


Gold Medal
Gold medal



Cooper's Ransom Rye Whiskey



Elk Rider Rye
(Heritage Distilling Co., WA) 92° prf

Nose: Caramel, brown sugar, rum toffee, crème brulee, maple, sugarcane, vanilla, cotton candy, honey, apricot, strawberry, banana, yellow apple, green apple, tangerine, rye flour, nutty, clove, cinnamon, black pepper, cigar, peaty, drying leather, oak, sea mist.
Palate: Toffee, caramel, creamy, vanilla, apple, green apple, stewed peach, citrus, dried apricot, sweet grain, toast, candied nuts, nutty, Fireball cinnamon, cinnamon, nutmeg, pepper, white pepper, ginger, menthol, peppermint, leather, butter, dry wood, oak, sweet oak.
Finish: Lemon, raisin, almond, pepper, menthol, clove, spicy, cigar, grainy, woody, dry oak, cedar, balanced, crisp, smooth, approachable, elegant.


Gold Medal
Gold medal



Elk Rider Rye



Minor Case Straight Rye Whiskey
(Limestone Branch Distillery, KY) 80° prf
Sherry cask finished. Aged 24 months.

Nose: Toffee, nougat, brown sugar, sugarcane, light cocoa butter, butter, vanilla, light mint syrup, candied green apple, green apple, apple, apricot, strawberry, lemon, clove, nutmeg, spice, salinity, grain, toasty, new oak.
Palate: Toasted caramel, cocoa, buttery, thick vanilla, cherry, apple, pickled apricot, heather honey, honey, piecrust, toasty, grain, orgeat, ginger, menthol, walnut, nutty, cinnamon, spice, pepper, leather, oak, rich.
Finish: Apricot, sour cherries, brown Tootsie-roll pop, roasted nuts, allspice, clove, oak, cherrywood, balanced, expressive, smooth, zippy, zesty.


Gold Medal
Gold medal



Minor Case Straight Rye Whiskey



Devils River Rye Whiskey
(Devils River Whiskey, TX) 92° prf

Nose: Banana, banana Laffy Taffy, dried apricots, dried apples, persimmon, blueberry, green apple, vanilla, lavender, wintergreen, mint, fresh light floral, pollen, oats, roasted walnuts, nutty, black pepper, musty, oak.
Palate: Cherries, red berry, Macintosh apple, green apple, Jolly Rancher, creamy, banana pudding, perfume, lilac, mint, cinnamon, tarragon, spicy, pepper, oak.
Finish: Cherry, vanilla, orgeat, green apple skin, tart dried grapefruit, green stems, tarragon, black pepper, grain, woody, spice lingers.


Gold Medal
Gold medal



   Devils River Rye Whiskey



Sagamore Spirit Double Oak Straight Rye Whiskey
(Sagamore Spirit, Baltimore, MD) 96.6° prf

Nose: Butterscotch, toffee, caramel, brown butter, dark sugar, melting sugar, cocoa, maple, vanilla, cream soda, honey, sweet plums, ripe soft banana, lemon, orange peel, herbal, sandalwood, tarragon, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, allspice, leather, toast, oak.
Palate: Butterscotch, caramel, custard pie, creamy, vanilla, cocoa, young sugarcane, cantaloupe, toasted pumpkin seeds, roasted almonds, anise, mint, cinnamon, clove, allspice, spice, pink peppercorn, tobacco, grainy, oak, rich, smooth, well-balanced.
Finish: Caramel, mocha, banana, pineapple, tropical fruit, sharp cherry, citrus peel, smooth grass, mint, licorice, clove, spicy, black pepper, smoky grain, creamy, smooth, velvety.


Gold Medal
Gold medal



Sagamore Spirit Double Oak Straight Rye Whiskey



Col. E.H. Taylor, Jr. Straight Rye Whiskey
(Buffalo Trace, Frankfort, KY) 100° prf
Bottled in Bond.

Nose: Caramel, vanilla, vanilla cream, buttery, dry vanilla, honey, dried blackberries, raisins, almonds, hazelnut, cinnamon, allspice, leather, dusting powder, oak.
Palate: Toffee, nougat, creamy, vanilla, ice cream, honey, black cherry, apple, nutty, rye, clove, cinnamon, spice, pink peppercorn, leather, smoky, woody, oak, cherry wood, smooth.
Finish: Caramel, vanilla, cocoa, roasted nuts, nutmeg, cinnamon, peppercorn, sea mist, wet stones, leather, tannic, woodsy, cedar, oak, smooth, easy, tasty, approachable.


Gold Medal
Gold medal



Col. E.H. Taylor, Jr. Straight Rye Whiskey



Iowa Legendary Rye Whiskey
(Iowa Legendary, IA) 80° prf
100% Rye. Aged minimum 18 months.

Nose: Caramel, butterscotch, sugarcane, maple, vanilla, cotton candy, Sweet Tarts, Juicy Fruit gum, orange peel, cocoa, grain, filbert, blue cheese, clove, forest floor, smoky, oak.
Palate: Caramel, cocoa, Christmas cookies, lemon butter, cotton candy, Juicy Fruit gum, cherry, plum, apricot, banana, sweet grain, almond, blue cheese, licorice, green tea, mint, cinnamon, fenugreek, coriander seeds, spicy, oaky, smooth, rich.
Finish: Vanilla, butter, sprinkles, dark fruit, ginger, mint, nuts, clove, nutmeg, fenugreek, mild cinnamon, spice, pepper, oak, balanced, elegant.


Gold Medal
Gold medal



Iowa Legendary Rye Whiskey



Oak & Eden Rye Whiskey
(Sanctified Spirits, TX) 90° prf
Finished with a charred oak spiral.

Nose: Toffee, toasted caramel, crème brûlée, vanilla, dark sugar, honey, baklava, toasted apple, dried fruit, apricot, plum, walnut syrup, roasted walnut, hazelnut, pistachios, cashews, nutty, musty, cigar.
Palate: Toffee, caramel, brown sugar, demerara, maple sugar, vanilla, honey, cherry, banana, straw, rye, mint, clove, nutmeg, cinnamon, spice, pepper, creamy, buttery, oak, aromatic oak, smooth.
Finish: Toffee, brown sugar, maple, honey, peppered vanilla bean, apple, clove, nutmeg, spicy, black pepper, sandalwood, oak, smoky, campfire, aromatic, flavorful.


Gold Medal
Gold medal



Oak & Eden Rye Whiskey



Sagamore Spirit Straight Rye Whiskey
(Sagamore Spirit, Baltimore, MD) 83° prf

Nose: Caramel, butterscotch, nougat, sugarcane, vanilla, honey, apricot, plum, dark cherry, apple cider, citrus, orange, pineapple, dried fruit, spice, ginger, allspice, sweet toast, wood, musty, aromatic.
Palate: Caramel, molasses, vanilla, honey, strawberries and cream, dried cranberry, mango, pineapple, orange, balanced citrus, sour apple, mint, sweet nuttiness, nutmeg, cinnamon, spice, grain, rye flour, toast, buttery, woody, oak, gentle.
Finish: Apple, sour apple, tropical fruit, honey, charred grapefruit, mint, clove, cinnamon, spicy, black pepper, grain, balanced, expressive, smooth, velvety, perfect.


Gold Medal
Gold medal



Sagamore Spirit Straight Rye Whiskey



Monterey Rye Batch 22
(Fog's End Distillery, CA) 89.4° prf

Nose: Butterscotch, toffee, caramel, cream, nougat, chocolate wafers, maple syrup, vanilla, melting sugar, concentrated maple, honey, papaya, dried fruit, Kellogg’s Sugar Pops, sweet grains, buttered popcorn, sweet nuts, toasted pecans, peanut butter, woody.
Palate: Toffee, Heath bar, butterscotch, caramel, crème brûlée, cream, butter, vanilla, sugarcane, honey, dried fruit, grainy, coffee, frappucino, mint, black pepper, oak, smooth, balanced.
Finish: Butterscotch, toffee, cocoa, creamy, vanilla, warm buttered popcorn, green pepper, baking spice, clove, oak, smooth.


Gold Medal
Gold medal



Monterey Rye Batch 22



Hillrock Estate Double Cask Port Finish Rye Whiskey
(Hillrock Estate Distillery, NY) 90° prf

Nose: Caramel, cane sugar, maple, maple syrup, cocoa, vanilla, dates stewed in rum, cola, tamarind, banana peel, green apple skin, fresh roasted chestnuts, grain, clove, spicy, cedar, oak, grappa, aromatic.
Palate: Caramel, chocolate, molasses, cane sugar, vanilla, warm apple pie, sweet coconut, banana, citrus, clove, nutmeg, spice, pink peppercorn, leather, buttery, oaky, wood, cedar.
Finish: Caramel, toffee, cocoa, sugarcane, demerara, rum, raisin, rye, toasted jalapeño, clove, spice, coffee, smooth.


Gold Medal
Gold medal



Hillrock Estate Double Cask Port Finish Rye Whiskey



John David Albert's Taos Lightning
Single Barrel Straight Rye Whiskey

(KGB Spirits, NM) 90° prf
Aged 5 yrs.

Nose: Toffee, caramel, sugarcane, vanilla, vanilla beans, honey, baked cherries, black cherry, apple, citrus, mint, clove, nutmeg, spice, black pepper, rye flour, new leather, Greek leather, woody, oak, Old Tom gin.
Palate: Butterscotch, caramel, crème brûlée, sugarcane, demerara sugar, demerara syrup, cocoa, honey, cherry, plum, pepper, wintergreen, clove, nutmeg, cinnamon, spicy, rye toast, peaty, spicy punch, nice, smooth, exciting, elegant.
Finish: Caramel, vanilla latte, brown sugar, grassy, jalapeño, pepper, mint, clove, oak, balanced, pleasant, complex.


Gold Medal
Gold medal



John David Albert's Taos Lightning Single Barrel Straight Rye Whiskey



Treaty Oak Red Handed Rye Whiskey
(Treaty Oak Distilling Co., TX) 100° prf
Aged 10 yrs.

Nose: Caramel, cotton candy, sugarcane, vanilla, cream, cocoa, chocolate milk, spicy maple, cherry, green apple, banana, popcorn, light buttered toast, grain, caraway, clove, cinnamon, musty, oak.
Palate: Caramel, creamy, vanilla, honeycomb, dried candied pineapple, cherry, red apple, green apple, peppered raisins, caraway seeds, rye, grain, nutmeg, clove, cinnamon, spicy, peppery.
Finish: Vanilla, vanilla cream, charred dried fruit, floral, sandalwood, sweet nuttiness, spicy, bread, grains, wood, oak, smooth.


Gold Medal
Gold medal



Treaty Oak Red Handed Rye Whiskey



Sagamore Spirit Cask Strength Straight Rye
(Sagamore Spirit, Baltimore, MD) 112.2° prf

Nose: Toffee, butterscotch, caramel, nougat, cocoa, maple, vanilla, honey, peach, apricot, banana, strawberry, nutty, cinnamon, spice, woody, cedar, oak.
Palate: Toffee, super-creamy, caramel, spicy molasses, nougat, vanilla, honey, raisins, pink peppercorn syrup, plums, citrus, cocoa, nutty, cinnamon, spice, pepper, oak.
Finish: Toffee, butterscotch, buttery, molasses, agave, cinnamon, spicy, oak, dry sherry, smooth, rich.


Gold Medal
Gold medal



Sagamore Spirit Cask Strength Straight Rye



Big Bottom Delta Rye
(Eastside Distilling, OR) 111° prf
Blend of rye whiskies.

Nose: Toffee, caramel, chocolate syrup, maple, cotton candy, vanilla, honey, sweet prunes, citrus peel, herbal, pine nuts, leather, wood, dark aged wood, oak.
Palate: Nougat, creamy vanilla, coconut, baked pineapple, root beer, black cherry, melon, green apple skin, citrus, straw, rye, mint, toasted nuts, pepper, black pepper, cinnamon, leather, oaky, high octane, smooth.
Finish: Caramel, nougat, cream, vanilla, mango, papaya, ginger syrup, spice, earthy, toasted, charred pepper, char, oak, balanced, smooth, yummy.


Gold Medal
Gold medal



Big Bottom Delta Rye Whiskey



SILVER MEDAL WINNERS

Peerless Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey
(Kentucky Peerless Distilling Co., KY) 108.4° prf

Nose: Toffee, caramel, creamy, chocolate, brown sugar, sugarcane, honey, apricot, plum, butter, buttered raisins, herbal, cinnamon, grain, leather, oak, new oak.
Palate: Caramel, butterscotch, creamy, clotted cream, vanilla, tamarind candy, round citrus, wheat, rye, cinnamon bagel chips, cinnamon, allspice, cigar, oak, balanced, smooth.
Finish: Caramel, vanilla, lemon, citrus, floral, flowery, spicy, black pepper, dried chalk, grain, oak, balanced, smooth, powerful.


Silver Medal
Silver medal



Peerless Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey



Rye Knot Rye Whiskey
(Saint Lawrence Spirits, NY) 90° prf
100% rye.

Nose: Caramel, toasted caramel, treacle, brown butter, vanilla, dark spiced rum, cherries, ripe plum, ripe banana, floral, mint, cinnamon, exotic spices, grain, toast, cocoa, clove, wood, pine.
Palate: Dark sugar, burnt sugar, brown butter, vanilla, apricot, cherry, white flowers, mint, rye flour, rye bread, almond, nutmeg, clove, spice, wormwood, peaty, oak.
Finish: Caramel, vanilla, sweet cashews, grain, mint, spearmint, slightly spicy, smoky, woody, smooth.


Silver Medal
Silver medal



Rye Knot Rye Whiskey



Roaming Man Tennessee
Straight Rye Whiskey

(Sugarlands Distilling Co., TN) 122.8° prf
Cask Strength.

Nose: Toffee, butterscotch, molasses, burnt sugar, dark sugar, maple, maple syrup, chocolate, cocoa, creme caramel, vanilla, apricot, nutty, hazelnut, clove, cedar, smoke, mineral spirits.
Palate: Toffee, molasses, dark sugar, saltwater taffy, rough maple syrup, very dry vanilla, honey, sharp baked goods, corn, rye, sandalwood, mint, herbal, cinnamon, nutmeg, spicy, woodsy, cedar, heat, smooth, balanced.
Finish: Vanilla, walnut, walnut syrup, cherry, apple, lemon, citrus, pepper, cinnamon, grain, cedar, strong, powerful, warms the cockles.


Silver Medal
Silver medal



Roaming Man Tennessee Straight Rye Whiskey



Burnside Oregon Oaked Rye
(Eastside Distilling, OR) 92° prf
Garryana finished.

Nose: Toffee, rich chocolate, vanilla, bananas foster, dried apricots, plums, apples, sandalwood, mint, cinnamon, rye flour, oak, subtle.
Palate: Toffee, caramel, vanilla, honey, cinnamon-apple pie a la mode, baked cherries, cherry, berry, apple, herbal, mint, licorice, anise, wheat, grainy, clove, spice, burnt popcorn, peaty, tobacco, oak.
Finish: Caramel, cocoa, vanilla, buttered toast, cereal, rye, apple, menthol, clove, black pepper, oak, smooth, yummy.


Silver Medal
Silver medal



Burnside Oregon Oaked Rye



Southern Tier Distilling Straight Rye Whiskey
(Southern Tier Distilling Co., NY) 86° prf

Nose: Brown sugar, vanilla, banana, cherry, dried apricots, prunes, quince paste, ginger, floral, perfume, rye flour, walnuts, cinnamon, nutmeg, spice, minty, funk, oak, cedar, cedar cabinet.
Palate: Brown sugar, vanilla, plums, citrus, mint, wheat, rye, sweet nuttiness, walnuts, roasted almonds, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, caraway, spice, pepper, peaty, woody, oak, Old Tom gin, rich, smoky goodness.
Finish: Cherry, stewed plums, candied ginger, floral, hay, toasty, spicy wheat, peppermint, licorice, cinnamon, clove, spicy, sour mash, leather, oak, unusual herbal woodiness, quite expressive.


Silver Medal
Silver medal



Southern Tier Distilling Straight Rye Whiskey



HDC Dual Barrel
Old Fashioned Ready Rye

(Heritage Distilling Co., WA) 92° prf
Finished in orange extract barrels.

Nose: Banana bread, banana, dried dates, apricot, mango, lemon, faint citrus, banana peel, cucumber, ginger, mint, clove, buttery, oak.
Palate: Caramel, creamy, banana taffy, pineapple taffy, tutti frutti, banana bread, ripe bananas, pineapple, macerated plums, orange, citrus, vanilla, violet, floral, herbs, ginger, anise, cinnamon, spicy, rye toast, subtle wheat, oak.
Finish: Nougat, Milky Way, vanilla, apple, overripe banana leaves, peppered raisins, ginger, minty, spicy, oak, smooth, creamy.


Silver Medal
Silver medal



HDC Dual Barrel Old Fashioned Ready Rye



Tom's Foolery Ohio Straight Rye Whiskey
(Tom's Foolery Distillery, OH) 90° prf
Single barrel rye.

Nose: Caramel, maple saltwater taffy, brown butter, buttery, vanilla, honey, cherry pie, bananas, dried fruit, green apple skin, citrus peel, grainy, rye flour, nutty, hazelnut, cinnamon, sandalwood, mint, licorice, leather, musty, dusty, sour wood, oak, cedar.
Palate: Dark chocolate, buttery, creamy, wheat, cooked oatmeal, toast, apple, green apple, banana peel, dried dates, beet reduction, eucalyptus, grass, mint, sandalwood, hot cinnamon, spice, nutty, leather, musty, dusty, terrain, char, oak, cedar, zesty, balanced.
Finish: Caramel, honey, mandarin peel, fall potpourri, dandelion greens, minty, toasty, grain, rye, clove, black pepper, spicy, smooth, zesty, pleasant.


Silver Medal
Silver medal



Tom's Foolery Ohio Straight Rye Whiskey



Hillrock Estate Single Malt
Double Cask Rye #1

(Hillrock Estate Distillery, NY) 110.7° prf

Nose: Caramel, chocolate syrup, butterscotch, cocoa, molasses, deep dark brown sugar, maple, vanilla, Luden's cherry cough drops, apple, floral, nutty, pepper, dusty, tobacco, snuff, oak, cherrywood.
Palate: Caramel, burnt caramel, cocoa fudge, cream, brown sugar, cherries, apple sauce, lemon, walnuts, spice, black pepper, oak, very complex.
Finish: Dark chocolate, milk chocolate, cocoa, maple, vanilla, dried cherries, raisins, grain, coffee, spice, pepper, smoke, oak, Fernet Branca, smooth.


Silver Medal
Silver medal



Hillrock Estate Single Malt Double Cask Rye #1



Isanti Rye Whiskey
(Isanti Spirits, MN) 86° prf

Nose: Caramel, vanilla, cream, pie crust dough, rock candy, cherry, stewed walnut, grain, mint, clove, nutmeg, spice, linseed, leather, oak.
Palate: Caramel, brown sugar, maple, vanilla cream, baked apple, green apple, grain-like, toast, pecan, sweet nuttiness, nutmeg, cinnamon, clove, pepper, oak, creamy, smooth.
Finish: Vanilla, creamy, agave syrup, eucalyptus, light spice, nutmeg, black pepper, cigars, oak, balanced, smooth.


Silver Medal
Silver medal



Isanti Rye Whiskey



Last Feather Rye
(Journeyman Distillery, MI) 90° prf
Certified organic.

Nose: Caramel, molasses, maple, sugarcane, vanilla, cream soda, honey, candied apple, raisins, corn, sweet corn, sweet nuts, walnuts, grain, toast, cola, coffee, rum.
Palate: Caramel, chocolate, maple syrup, molasses, sugarcane, vanilla, butter, baked apple, coconut, bananas, sweet corn, walnuts, nutmeg, spice, black pepper, coffee, rum, Sailor Jerry rum, smooth.
Finish: Kraft brand caramel, sweet chocolate, maple syrup, sugarcane, vanilla, coffee candy, nutty, clove, black pepper, smoky, oak, rum, cognac-like, pleasant.


Silver Medal
Silver medal



Last Feather Rye



Iowa Legendary Rye
Double Barreled Private Reserve

(Iowa Legendary Spirits, IA) 80° prf
100% Rye. Aged minimum 18 months.

Nose: Butterscotch, caramel, toffee, nougat, birthday cake, Juicy Fruit gum, bubblegum, banana, pear, herbal, grain, tea, cocoa, nutty, nutmeg, blue cheese, leathery.
Palate: Caramel, creamy, vanilla, sugarcane, cherry, black cherry, fresh dates, ginger, marmalade, Juicy Fruit gum, bubblegum, sweet grain, sweet nuttiness, spice, black pepper, woody, oak, rich.
Finish: Creamy caramel, vanilla, cream, blue cheese, black cherry, dark fruit, mint, cinnamon, spice, nutty, oak, zesty.


Silver Medal
Silver medal



Iowa Legendary Rye Double Barreled Private Reserve



BRONZE MEDAL WINNERS

Round Top Straight Rye Whiskey
(Wollersheim Winery & Distillery, WI) 90° prf
Aged 2 yrs.

Nose: Fresh-cooked vanilla pudding, vanilla, nougat, cherries, wheat, grain, hay, straw, nutmeg, spice, oak, woody, white wood, zesty, aromatic.
Palate: Toffee, chocolate, dry cacao, dark sugar, sugarcane, candy-like, light cream soda, cherries, apple, crabapple, nutmeg, cinnamon, spice, wheat, sour mash, mossy, peaty, oak.
Finish: Butterscotch, buttery, spicy dark chocolate, hay, black pepper, spicy, rye flour, balanced grain, peat, char.


Bronze Medal
Bronze medal



Round Top Straight Rye Whiskey



Timber Creek Florida Black Rye Whiskey
(Timber Creek Distillery, FL) 93° prf
100% Florida 401 Black Rye.

Nose: Vanilla, vanilla ice cream, maple, egg nog, apple pie, dark berry, stewed strawberries, lilac, floral, perfume, herbal tea, pekoe orange leaf, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, fresh, aromatic.
Palate: Toffee, cinnamon sugar, stewed coconut, raisins, dried apricots, dates, baked apples, pineapple, tropical fruit, apricot, plum, citrus, floral, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, pepper, rye, oak, plum brandy, smooth.
Finish: Dried dates, raisins, cooked apples, nutmeg syrup, toasted pepper, Red Hots, spicy, floral, perfume, tannic, Starbucks specialty coffee.


Bronze Medal
Bronze medal



Timber Creek Florida Black Rye Whiskey



Sugar House Rye Whiskey
(Sugar House Distillery, UT) 92° prf
100% regionally sourced rye.

Nose: Chocolate, apricot, cherries, kirsch, bread dough, wheat, grain, raw grain, straw, sandalwood, peanut shells, roasted chestnuts, raw cashews, cashew butter, ginger, mint, cinnamon, spicy, pepper, new wood, pine, oak, musty, rich.
Palate: Caramel, dark sugar, cinnamon taffy, honey, maple, dry cocoa, rye, grain, kiwi, eucalyptus, herbal, mint, nutty, cinnamon, nutmeg, spice, mineral spirits ,autumn, dried leaves, heavy wood, oak, dry oak, oak sediment, viscous.
Finish: Toffee, mint, licorice, rosemary, black coffee, pickled white pepper, black pepper, spicy, cigar, leather, tannic, wood, oak, balanced.


Bronze Medal
Bronze medal



Sugar House Rye Whiskey



Seven Devils Idaho Rye Whiskey
(Koenig Distillery, ID) 84° prf
Aged minimum 4 yrs.

Nose: Sugarcane, melon rind, minty, grain, granola, toast, nutty, new leather, new car smell, light oak.
Palate: Toffee, nougat, creamy, butter, brown sugar, molasses, vanilla, honey, floral, rye flour, cereal, grainy, nutty, clove, black pepper, oak, soft, smooth, balanced.
Finish: Saltwater taffy, cream, vanilla, honey, green crabapple, citrus, cashews, nuttiness, coffee, balanced.


Bronze Medal
Bronze medal



Seven Devils Idaho Rye Whiskey

 


 

The Rye Revival – What Took So Long?

 

In the United States, rye is riding on the soaring rise in popularity of American whiskeys and bourbon, growing in volume sales by 536% since 2009. According to the Distilled Spirits Council (Discus), rye whiskey volumes have grown from 88,000 cases in 2009 to an excess of a half million cases in 2014, and then another sales gain of 20% during 2015. Over the last two years alone, rye whiskey has shown a tremendous 97% growth. Is it any wonder that distilleries are rushing to produce rye whiskies?

Rye whiskey was the favored grain of the East Coast. George Washington even had the largest rye whiskey distillery in early America on his Virginia estate. By the 1780s, around 5,000 log stillhouses were operating in Pennsylvania and Maryland producing the fragrant whiskey that came to be known as “rye”. Mostly by German immigrants that had been using rye in the production of schnapps and vodka back in northern Europe.

One hundred years later in the 1880’s, saloons were all the rage. There were thousands of them in the old American west. Much of the liquor sold were rough homemade concoctions called rotgut or Firewater, (sometimes made with raw alcohol, burnt sugar and a little chewing tobacco), but the majority of saloons “imported” rye whiskeys from the Eastern states for their regular customers. Rye was not sold in "shots". It was sold in a small glass which normally held about 4 ounces and cost a nickel. This price could be much higher in cities or for popular brand name liquors. For example, a good quality bottle of rye whiskey in a nice hotel might be as much as 2 dollars. Rye was usually served straight, but the distinctive flavor made it a perfect mixer during the early years of the cocktail. Three of the most popular classic cocktails were originally created for rye whiskey — the Old-Fashioned, the Manhattan & the Sazerac.

Before the Prohibition, there were over 50 brands of rye. When Prohibition outlawed the manufacture and sale of alcoholic beverages in 1920, many enterprising residents of small towns across America chose to become outlaws – they produced thousands of kegs per month, supplying Al Capone and other gangs who in turn filled the demand of speakeasies throughout Chicago, New York and all the way west to San Francisco.

After prohibition ended and liquor became legal again, most American whiskey distilleries ceased production, and rye whiskey practically disappeared. One reason the spirit fell out of favor is because of the easing of importation of other whiskies from Ireland, Scotland and Canada growing in the 20th century. By the 1980s, production of rye whiskies had all but vanished from its Mid-Atlantic homeland. For almost six decades since WWII, (with the exception of a brief cocktail-crazed period during the “Mad Men” era in the late 50’s), bourbon had taken over as the American whiskey of choice.

It was only twelve years ago, in 2006 that small batch rye whiskey finally returned to the market, available for the first time in 87 years. Branching out from a handful of large, established bourbon companies, small batch distilleries have popped up across the country. These modern pioneers have dusted off old family records and great grandpa's handed-down recipes to create spirits deeply rooted in tradition. Specialty rye had been reborn – even though bourbon and Tennessee whiskey still account for 3/4 of American whiskey production. A decade ago in this country you could only find six brands of rye. Now there are over 350 brands, and rye whiskey has become one of the most popular go-to craft spirits. North American farmers have seen their largest rye crop in years as whiskey sales soar.

Rye whiskey is made from fermented mashed grain that is at least 51% rye grain by law; sometimes with barley, corn and other grains blended in. Many of the newer, small-batch brands use 100% rye. Ryes must be distilled at less than 80% ABV (160 proof), and aged in new, charred oak barrels, used one-time only. Ryes labeled as "straight" must be aged for at least two years.

Rye whiskies are typically dry, peppery, and grainy, with complex flavors bursting with fruit, walnuts, and spice. This distinctly bold assertive character is embraced by a dedicated and growing following of discerning whiskey fans.

 

 

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