And now, ladies and gentlemen for something different

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And now, ladies and gentlemen for something different

Unread postby Mike » Fri Jun 10, 2016 7:06 pm

A RYE THROW DOWN! (in the straight bourbon topic since no one would read it if were elsewhere?).

Now, Rye whiskey is sort of the poor cousin to bourbon, even though rye grain is an ingredient in most bourbons. First off, rye is known to be that component in bourbon that adds its spice, its bite, its zip. But, ever one to look upon things with a view that is slightly askew, I claim that Rye adds it own unique sweetness that is masked by its spiciness. As for spice and sweetness being close companions for the palate, we need look nowhere further than any good chef.

I do not have at hand the recipes for these Rye Whiskies, but each contains at least 50% rye grain.

Before me I have four Rye Whiskies of illustrious provenance and pedigree, with two Ryes held in reserve to offer the contrast of products from craft distillers. The contestants are as follows: Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye, 95.6 proof (13 years old, but said to be composed primarily of 18 year old , or older, rye whiskey): Jefferson's Straight Rye Whiskey, 94 proof, 10 years old (actually a product of the famous Alberta Springs, Canada, distillery); Sazerac Rye, 90 proof (six year old 'Baby Saz'); and Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Straight Rye, Barrel Proof - 129 proof cut to about 100 proof, also six years old.

As a bonus, if I am judicious in the amount of whiskey that I imbibe, I have two other ultra aged ryes to throw into this comparison, a 21 YO Rittenhouse Rye and a 25 YO Vintage Rye. I will make no promises regarding these last two, or indeed, the ryes from the Craft Distilleries.

In terms of color, the Van Winkle is easily the darkest, even far darker than the 10 year old Jefferson's. This supports the speculation that this rye is far older than the claimed 13 years (just as rumor has it). I will sample these rye whiskies by age, youngest to oldest, on the possibly mistaken assumption that subtlety increases with age. Then, I will throw in the others as conditions permit.

Baby Saz - An enticing aroma with an initial sweetness that turns quite mildly spicy in the finish, without any roughness. Sweet but not cloying, only minor barrel hints.

Thomas Handy - Cinnamon and spice across the palate, with decided richness in the mouth feel. The barrel is in conversation with the palate, as is the alcohol.

Jefferson's Straight Rye Whiskey - Extraordinarily delicate for a rye. Very subdued spice with little alcohol presence for a 100 proof whiskey. First rate whiskey.

Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye - The barrel and the rye merge......... the tannins and the rye spice have reached an accord. Excellent and uniquely itself.

Winner - Jefferson's Straight Rye Whiskey for the predominance of its delicacy wherein everything that would dominate is balanced against the other contestants.


Rittenhouse 21 YO Rye, 100 proof - Smooth as silk with an unmistakable rye spicy bite.

Vintage 23 YO Rye, 94 proof - Probably better than the Jefferson's because it is a RYE whiskey AND it manages the tannins of a 25 year stint in the barrel. Rye whiskies are said to age better than bourbon, the presumption, I presume, to be that the tannins of ultra aging are offset by the spice of the rye grain??

And now, with your permission, a couple of rye whiskies from Craft Distilleries.

Hudson's Manhattan Rye Whiskey - Excellent for its grain flavors without any objectionable or wayward flavors, an obviously first rate distillation process.

Rye Whiskey from Delaware Phoenix Distillery, Walton NY (the distiller, Cheryl Linns, is a friend and a member of BourbonEnthusiast) - by remaining faithful to the distilling methods of the 1800s, Cheryl has produced a first rate whiskey, very true to its grain heritage.

Should it be the case that no one reads, or responds, to this post, it makes me no nevermind. But, I would remind folks that this is an ENTHUSIAST site, and by that measure I do qualify to be here. I make no claims to being right in my opinions, but I do know something about the topics discussed hereupon.
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rage at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light. - Dylan Thomas
Mike
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Re: And now, ladies and gentlemen for something different

Unread postby whiskey buyer » Sat Jun 11, 2016 7:22 am

Mike wrote:A RYE THROW DOWN! (in the straight bourbon topic since no one would read it if were elsewhere?).

Now, Rye whiskey is sort of the poor cousin to bourbon, even though rye grain is an ingredient in most bourbons. First off, rye is known to be that component in bourbon that adds its spice, its bite, its zip. But, ever one to look upon things with a view that is slightly askew, I claim that Rye adds it own unique sweetness that is masked by its spiciness. As for spice and sweetness being close companions for the palate, we need look nowhere further than any good chef.

I do not have at hand the recipes for these Rye Whiskies, but each contains at least 50% rye grain.

Before me I have four Rye Whiskies of illustrious provenance and pedigree, with two Ryes held in reserve to offer the contrast of products from craft distillers. The contestants are as follows: Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye, 95.6 proof (13 years old, but said to be composed primarily of 18 year old , or older, rye whiskey): Jefferson's Straight Rye Whiskey, 94 proof, 10 years old (actually a product of the famous Alberta Springs, Canada, distillery); Sazerac Rye, 90 proof (six year old 'Baby Saz'); and Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Straight Rye, Barrel Proof - 129 proof cut to about 100 proof, also six years old.

As a bonus, if I am judicious in the amount of whiskey that I imbibe, I have two other ultra aged ryes to throw into this comparison, a 21 YO Rittenhouse Rye and a 25 YO Vintage Rye. I will make no promises regarding these last two, or indeed, the ryes from the Craft Distilleries.

Hi Mike, I enjoyed your review. You are absolutely right that a rye whiskey is at least 50 percent rye; if it is an American whiskey, Canadian does not have any such stipulation.

Your review of the Jefferson makes me want to get run out and get a bottle. What is the price range for these expressions?


In terms of color, the Van Winkle is easily the darkest, even far darker than the 10 year old Jefferson's. This supports the speculation that this rye is far older than the claimed 13 years (just as rumor has it). I will sample these rye whiskies by age, youngest to oldest, on the possibly mistaken assumption that subtlety increases with age. Then, I will throw in the others as conditions permit.

Baby Saz - An enticing aroma with an initial sweetness that turns quite mildly spicy in the finish, without any roughness. Sweet but not cloying, only minor barrel hints.

Thomas Handy - Cinnamon and spice across the palate, with decided richness in the mouth feel. The barrel is in conversation with the palate, as is the alcohol.

Jefferson's Straight Rye Whiskey - Extraordinarily delicate for a rye. Very subdued spice with little alcohol presence for a 100 proof whiskey. First rate whiskey.

Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye - The barrel and the rye merge......... the tannins and the rye spice have reached an accord. Excellent and uniquely itself.

Winner - Jefferson's Straight Rye Whiskey for the predominance of its delicacy wherein everything that would dominate is balanced against the other contestants.


Rittenhouse 21 YO Rye, 100 proof - Smooth as silk with an unmistakable rye spicy bite.

Vintage 23 YO Rye, 94 proof - Probably better than the Jefferson's because it is a RYE whiskey AND it manages the tannins of a 25 year stint in the barrel. Rye whiskies are said to age better than bourbon, the presumption, I presume, to be that the tannins of ultra aging are offset by the spice of the rye grain??

And now, with your permission, a couple of rye whiskies from Craft Distilleries.

Hudson's Manhattan Rye Whiskey - Excellent for its grain flavors without any objectionable or wayward flavors, an obviously first rate distillation process.

Rye Whiskey from Delaware Phoenix Distillery, Walton NY (the distiller, Cheryl Linns, is a friend and a member of BourbonEnthusiast) - by remaining faithful to the distilling methods of the 1800s, Cheryl has produced a first rate whiskey, very true to its grain heritage.

Should it be the case that no one reads, or responds, to this post, it makes me no nevermind. But, I would remind folks that this is an ENTHUSIAST site, and by that measure I do qualify to be here. I make no claims to being right in my opinions, but I do know something about the topics discussed hereupon.
whiskey buyer
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