This guy, Norbert, seems to be on a roll with all his tastings. He’s doing mostly American whiskey but I’ve seem other tastings being announced too. I’ve not looked too closely, since my sample stash is quite rapidly responding, contrary to what remains of my whisky budget.
So this time, a rye whiskey tasting. Seven whiskeys in a row. This sounds rather singular in respect to the tasting notes, but Norbert promised to make it quite interesting.
Also, the title of the tasting is of course a play on the Creedence Clearwater Revival song:
Tasting notes then!
Catoctin Creek Roundstone Rye, 40%
Young rye whiskey with quite some alcohol and a bit of oak. Rye spices, with some green flavors of moss and ferns. Apple sauce, tangerines, apple skins, pear skins.
Very gentle and quite fruity. After a few seconds there’s the typical spiciness that kicks in. Cracked black pepper, rye bread crust. The green scents are barely present on the palate.
The palate is a bit sharper with more dryness than before. Pepper and orchard fruits. Reasonably long.
Norbert was very enthusiastic about this one, but this was in part because of the great time at the distillery he had. I’m a bit less thrilled. It’s a very decent whiskey but it’s not overly special. Just a ‘good’ drink.
Lot No. 40 Rye Whisky, 43%
Pecan and almond rolls, lots of sugary caramel, mars bars. Nougat, very sweet. Stewed strawberries and Werther’s Original.
Again, very sweet. A bit more spicy so not just almond paste, pecans and caramel. There’s some spices but not a lot. Dry grains, husks, a whiff of white pepper heat.
The palate ramps up the spiciness initially, but the sweetness catches up soon. Very similar to the palate.
Well, this is ridiculously sweet. There are some flavors to be discovered, but it got swamped in caramel fudge. I didn’t even finish it. I’m not sure how this got as many prizes as it did.
Michter’s Straight Rye, Single Barrel L19C496, 42.4%
Slightly closed off, quite bourbon like. Slightly oaky with oaky sweetness. A touch of charcoal, very gentle. Some cherries and mocha too.
Again, quite bourbon like initially. It takes a little while before the rye spices come through. A bit of chili heat, but some fresh green herbs as well. A bit of mint and basil. Orange pith, a touch of bitterness.
The palate is a little bit more herbaceous, with more mint and basil. The orange pith is present too.
I’ve been eyeballing this whiskey at a shop I frequent for a while, and I think I should get one. Then again, I should simply do a Michter’s bottle share to go through the range of their US-1 series.
This one starts of quite bourbon like which made me slightly less interested at first. However, the complexity quickly corrected that. The slightly lower rye content in the mash bill did give some other flavors room to shine and not be overwhelmed by spicy flavors.
Cedar Ridge Rye, Batch 14, 43%
Slightly bitter with lots of wood spices. Some nutmeg, a whiff of cinnamon. Dried mint, a bit of oak. Quite timid.
Lots of malt driven flavors, a coarse texture, graininess. After a seconds there is more chili pepper heat, with quite a lot of dry grain.
The finish brings a lot of rye typical flavors. Mint, dry grains, white pepper heat.
A bit scotch like, with the wood and grain dryness. I would have expected that to make it a bit more appealing to a (mostly) Scotch drinker. However, since I wanted rye whiskeys I prefer them to taste of rye whiskeys too. It’s a bit too Glen Elgin for me.
High West Double Rye!, cask 20B11, 46%
Grain and chocolate. Also quite dry, especially compared to the number 3 and 2. Some mocha, with a touch of oak. Speculaas spices,
The palate starts of with a candy like sweetness. Quite dry with a bit of chili heat. Orange pith, slightly leathery, some licorice.
The finish lingers with a bit of heat on the tongue, but otherwise rather timid. Some dark chocolate and a hint of espresso.
It takes a while to open up. Initially I wasn’t overly thrilled, but with a drop of water it starts giving more scents and flavors. The amped up spiciness makes it a bit harder to discern separate flavors for me, somehow. Having said that, it is rather quintessential rye whiskey and that is not something to scoff at!
Sonoma County Cherrywood Rye, 47.8%
Acetone and a bit of glue, with a more east coast vibe to it. Not unlike how I remember Old Overholt (it’s been ages). Some paper too. Not unpleasant, but a bit ‘different’. Lapsang Souchon, leather.
Dry wood spices and dry oak. Some cork, lots of white pepper. Gets more and more dry, almost ridiculously so. Tea, some wood smoke.
The finish has something young to it, with a taste not unlike green malt. Typical rye spices with mint and wood spices.
Apparently it’s cherry wood smoked, but apart from a bit more forward wood, I didn’t get something out of the ordinary. Cool stuff. So, even though something as clunky as cherrywood smoking has been done to this whiskey, it’s still one that thrives in subtleties. I was very surprised by this whiskey, and maybe even more by me liking it this much.
James E. Pepper Straight Rye Barrel Proof 57.3%
I stopped writing tasting notes at this point. Not because I was getting hammered, but because I have quite recently reviewed this whiskey, in this post. What stood out this time was the grapefruit flavor. I noticed it before but not as much as this time around.
I also improved its score by a point, and ordered a bottle.
So, another great whiskey tasting by Norbert with a lot of cool information. There was only one whisky I didn’t like at all and that was the Canadian one. I don’t think I’ve ever had a Canadian whisky that convinced me to try more, and this one didn’t help one bit.
Now I’m on the fence to participate in the third ‘The Night Time is the Rye Time’ tasting, or hold of until the high roller Christmas tastings that are bound to come up.