January 25, 2010

McKenzie Rye Whiskey

Bill Dowd photo
Put two unrelated guys together who share not only a surname but a love of spirits and the result is Finger Lakes Distilling, a craft distillery in the heart of New York's Finger Lakes wine country. The partners are Brian McKenzie and Earl McKenzie, and they produce a line of spirits that includes, rye, bourbon, gin, vodka and liqueurs.

McKenzie Rye Whiskey

This golden amber rye, bottled at 45.5% alcohol by volume (91 proof), is on the market at a good time. Nationwide, the rye resurgence continues unabated in America.

The rye's color is an eye-catcher, as is the squat bottle reminiscent of what once was the standard bottle shape for this most American of spirits.

As a New York State Farm Distillery, Finger Lakes uses locally-grown grains. This non-chill-filtered spirit is made from a mash of rye, corn and barley malt. It is aged in new charred quarter-cask oak and given a finish in sherry barrels from local wineries.

Once inside, the attraction grows. This rye is immediately assertive on the palate, offering a bite of clove smoothed with notes of caramel and clover. Hints of orange peel, mint and cardamom come through, with a buttery finish.

This is an excellent example of the craft distiller's art, particularly interesting since it comes from a comparatively new enterprise.

Suggested retail price: $40 for the 750ml bottle.

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