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Rye Whiskey 2013

Best Rye Whiskey - 2013


The Great Rye Whiskey Tasting of 2013


The Tasting:
The Fifty Best held a “blind” tasting of 24 American rye whiskies with 18 pre-qualified judges. Strict tasting rules were applied. The order of service was established beforehand by lottery. Each of the ryes were poured into fresh glasses from new sealed bottles, and served at slightly above room temperature. Only ice water, neutral unflavored crackers and bar snacks were available to cleanse the palate. The judges tasted through three flights of 7 ryes and one flight of 3 ryes.

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 and Silver medals were awarded according to a set range of final point scores received from the judges. There were no Bronze medals awarded in this tasting.

The tasting notes that follow are summaries of the judges’ opinions, with all replicated commentary eliminated. The states of origin are identified for each brand.


Here are the final results:

Dark Horse Reunion


Dark Horse Reunion

Nose: Dried cherries, subtle caramel, toffee, maple, cola, corn, sandalwood, floral, oak, nuts.
Palate: Dark chocolate, toffee, sugar cane, corn, grain, earthy, grappa, Angostura bitters, black pepper, spicy.
Finish: Toffee, spicy, clean, smooth, short.

Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal

Rough Rider Bull Moose
(New York)

Nose: Grassy, mossy, nutty, clove, rye, oak.
Palate: Dried fruits, cherry, dried banana, ripe banana, vanilla, honey, toffee, hazelnut, nougat, grain, herbs, mint, pepper, rye, toast, spice, dill, eucalyptus.
Finish: Cinnamon, buttery, honey, zesty, smooth, short.

Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal

Rough Rider Bull Moose

Hudson Manhattan

Hudson Manhattan
(New York)

Nose: Cranberry, cherry, prune, plums, apricot, dark chocolate, walnuts.
Palate: Raisin, prune, dried fruit, plum, raspberry, caramel, honeycomb, toffee, cocoa, nougat, nutty, cashew, herbal tea, grain, cinnamon, spicy, leather, tobacco, zesty.
Finish: Spicy, peppery, honey, sweet nuttiness, rye, toast, smooth, lingering.

Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal

Widow Jane
(New York)

Nose: Banana, cherry, honey, vanilla, oaky, lightly herbal.
Palate: Cherry, raisin, honey, creamy, vanilla, almond, nutty, grain, mint, dill, spice.
Finish: Spice, buttery, velvety, rye, smooth, medium.

Double-Gold Medal
Double-Gold medal

Widow Jane

Defiant Rye


(New York)

Nose: Caramel, brown sugar, maple, molasses, honeysuckle, vanilla, custard, dried plums, walnut, new wood.
Palate: Caramel, vanilla, crème brûlée, brown sugar, nougat, ripe banana, coconut, dried dark fruits, cinnamon, cloves, toast, walnuts, leather.
Finish: Clean, fresh, smooth, grain, wood notes, lingering.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

Thirteenth Colony Southern

Nose: Subtle cherry, buttery, caramel, honey, subtle licorice, mint, herbal, clove, dill, crisp.
Palate: Caramel, vanilla, honey, molasses, chocolate mint, dried fruit, rum raisin, banana, green apple, ginger, spicy, eucalyptus.
Finish: Peppery, oaky, dry, medium.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

Thirteenth Colony Southern Rye

Koval Aged Rye

Koval Aged

Nose: Lemon meringue pie, lemon, apricot, toasted bread, nutmeg, black pepper.
Palate: Custard, caramel, crème brûlée, vanilla, brown sugar, nougat, Toasted Honeycomb cereal, wheat, sweet corn, almond, ginger, pepper, rye, oak, balanced.
Finish: Spicy, smooth, short.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

James Oliver

Nose: Cocoa, vanilla, cloves, green tea leaves, cut grass, floral, subtle.
Palate: Honey, vanilla, pistachio, banana, date, fig, dried dark fruit, walnuts, herbal tea, herbs, peppermint, spice, toast, leather, zesty, lovely wood.
Finish: Spice, peppery, rye, grain, medium.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

James Oliver Rye

Templeton Rye


Nose: Herbal peppermint tea, soft citrus, coconut, melon, honey, cola.
Palate: Peppermint, tea, lemon, honey, vanilla, banana, cherry, plums. cola, rye flour, grain, cinnamon, spicy.
Finish: Clean, spicy, silky, short.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

Ole George

Nose: Plum, prune, caramel, vanilla bean, creamy, walnut, sandalwood, clove, rye, oak.
Palate: Cherry, plum, fig, banana, dark chocolate, sugar cane, vanilla, toffee, cream, rye grain, mint, spices.
Finish: Sharp spice, smooth, very nice, medium.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

Ole George Rye

Ceran St. Vrain's Taos Lightning Rye

Ceran St. Vrain's Taos Lightning
(New Mexico)

Nose: Caramel, custard, vanilla, banana, Good Humor Toasted Almond, light floral, leather.
Palate: Raisin, dates, apricot, black cherry, fig, rum raisin, candied fruit, toffee, chocolate mint, sugar cane, Wather's Original candy, walnut, flour, grain, very spicy, smooth, balanced.
Finish: Clean, light, vanilla, butterscotch, peppery, lingering.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

Old Scout
(West Virginia)

Nose: Caramel, toffee, vanilla, coconut, banana, cola, cherry notes, light herbal, clove.
Palate: Caramel, toffee, vanilla, cherry, apricot, green apple, explosion of fruit, ripe fruit, dried fruit, subtle mint, hint of cinnamon, nutty, almond, grain, ginger, dill, brine, sea salt, leather, silky.
Finish: Spicy, almond, roasted nuts, cinnamon, toffee, lingering.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

Old Scout Rye

Knob Creek Rye

Knob Creek

Nose: Almond, cherry, green apple, toffee, nougat.
Palate: Plum, caramel, honey, butter, creamy toffee, herbal tea, coffee, cinnamon, almond, cashew, nutmeg, clove, chewy, viscous.
Finish: Black pepper, spicy, sugarcane, smooth, balanced, lingering.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

Corsair 100%

Nose: Banana, apricot, hints of cherry, almond, caramel, hint of honey.
Palate: Caramel, toffee, vanilla, creamy, molasses, apricot, mango, pineapple, cherry, fruit cake, corn, cola, lightly nutty, clove, cinnamon, ginger, spice, fresh, light.
Finish: Dry, soft, lingering.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

Corsair 100% Rye

Copper Fox Rye

Copper Fox

Nose: Nutmeg, honeycomb, maple, toffee, Turkish delight, prune, plum, subtle cola, pine.
Palate: Cherry, plum, prune, raisin, fig, corn, mulled wine, cloves, dried herbs, light ginger, spicy, walnuts, woody notes, oak, mahogany, bourbon barrel, leather, smoky.
Finish: Smooth, bourbon barrel, wood, lingering.

Gold Medal
Gold medal


Nose: Blackberry, citrus, apricots, roasted nuts, toffee, honey, sugarcane.
Palate: Dates, fig, raisin, maple, toffee, creamy, cola, almond, subtle mint, peppery, spice, fresh oak, silky, zesty.
Finish: Soft, spice, peppery, medium.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

Sazerac Rye

Feisty Spirits Rye

Feisty Spirits

Nose: Vanilla, banana, coconut, citrus, corn, almond, cactus, grain, oak.
Palate: Vanilla, caramel, butterscotch, banana, apricot, dried fruit, almond, rye, grain, dill, spicy, woody, oak, balanced.
Finish: Nutty, spicy, peppery, soft, medium.

Gold Medal
Gold medal


Nose: Dried fruits, banana, Graham cracker, rye flour.
Palate: Butter, chocolate, cocoa, honey, sugar cane, toffee, raisin, plum, walnut, almond, clove, nutty, oaky, peppery, spice.
Finish: Tangy, citrus, light pepper, wood, oaky, medium.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

Prichard's Rye

Yellow Rose Rye

Yellow Rose

Nose: Cola, soft spice, oak, grain, very subtle
Palate: Coconut butter, cream, vanilla, apricot, green apple, cashew, almond, nutty, sweet potato, sweet rye, toasted cracker, anise, cinnamon.
Finish: Spice, dry, medium.

Gold Medal
Gold medal


Nose: Vanilla, coconut, grape, plum, agave, grain, nuttiness.
Palate: Caramel, vanilla, creamy, custard, toffee notes, sugar cane, corn, cinnamon, pepper, agave-like, eucalyptus, nutmeg, spice, toast, nutty, oaky.
Finish: Smooth, light, balanced, short.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

Monterey Rye

Koval White Rye


Koval White

Nose: Vanilla, caramel, custard, banana, herbal.
Palate: Buttercream, caramel, vanilla, custard, crème brûlée, sugarcane, coconut, creamy, velvety, herbal, citrus, grain, rye flour, fresh wood.
Finish: Nutty, spicy, peppery, soft, medium.

Silver Medal
Silver medal


Nose: Almond, banana, very slight vanilla, minty, light oak.
Palate: Black cherry, stewed fruit, burnt raisin, cherry, plums, green apple, pear, melon, citrus, creamy vanilla, honey, brown sugar, mulled wine, flax, cloves, peppery, silky, balanced.
Finish: Walnut, pepper, spicy, smooth, lingering.

Silver Medal
Silver medal

Masterson's Rye

Elk Rider Rye

Elk Rider

Nose: Vanilla, roasted nuts, pecan, corn, leather, damp oak, barrel, new wood.
Palate: Apricot, plum, cream, clay, pretzel, walnuts, cinnamon, spice, herbs, light, very smooth.
Finish: Fresh, clean, grain, citrus, medium.

Silver Medal
Silver medal


Nose: Eaux-de-vie, aged figs, anise, pisco, grain.
Palate: Milk chocolate, cocoa, eaux-de-vie, anise, green olives, grassy, herbal, grain, true rye, peppercorn, old wood, silky, balanced.
Finish: Vanilla, marzipan, anise, soft, short.

Silver Medal
Silver medal

Commander's Rye




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Sun. September 21, 2014 8:21 AM - by: Jean-Paul
Hello I would recommend to taste High West 16years Rye and Sonoma County Rye. Kind regards Jean-Paul
Thu. July 17, 2014 6:42 PM - by: Sharon Ehni
In Scottsdale this winter, I purchased a bottle of "Canadian Gold, very light Canadian Whiskey" at Total Wine. I LOVE IT! I cannot find it in Portland/Beaverton. Does any place near Beaverton carry this tasty whiskey?
Wed. February 19, 2014 6:33 PM - by: Steven Amick
Picked up a bottle of James Oliver rye across the river in Camas, Washington, and fell in love! Fortunately, though it's made in Kentucky, it's aged and bottled in Tigard, a Portland suburb, by Indio Spirits, which makes lots of other good hooch and has a tasting room. (Don't everyone move here, though.) I just ordered some of that delicious JO rye from my friendly local Oregon Liquor Control Commission-licensed store in Oregon City and can't wait to: A) get it, and; B) cruise over to Tigard with some friends for a tasting party. Yum!

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Fifty Best > Spirits Archive > Rye Whiskey 2013
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