June 10, 2007

American rye whiskeys

Photo provided

I sampled a wide range of American ryes for a story I wrote for an upcoming issue of the English publication "Whisky," the world's largest such magazine.

Sazerac Straight Rye:

Quite different from the average rye, with a sophisticated softness that melds the expected fruit and spice notes of rye whisky with a soft, oaky topping. Long finish with a distinct cocoa tang.

Rittenhouse 100 Proof Bottled-in-Bond Rye:

A fine balance of rye’s traditional sweet-and-sour tastes, with a long, crisp finish that lingers as a peppery tingle on the tongue.

Old Potrero 18th Century Style Whiskey:

Hits the palate with full force. No wonder. It’s aged in uncharred oak and is bottled at barrel strength, so a bit of water or ice is advisable to reduce the heat and open its spicy richness.

Michter's Small Batch US 1 Unblended:

This has the distinct sharpness of grain alcohol moderated by aging in bourbon-soaked white oak barrels that take the edge off the initial sharp, robust taste. Relatively short finish.

• Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye:

This 13-year-old offers a mature combination of flavors – cocoa, vanilla, pepper and spices. The long finish is subtle, even refreshing without the warm, cloying quality of younger ryes.

Wild Turkey Straight Rye Whiskey:

Perfumey quality reminiscent of the distiller’s bourbon, but a coffee/leather/spice layering to the nose and taste makes it a distinctive rye.

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