I recently realized I had about one pour left of two different rye whiskies. I needed the shelf space so I poured them into small bottles and stuck them onto one of my shelves. They sat there for a while.
A long while.
I like rye. But unless it is amazing, I normally put it into a cocktail. A sazerac or a manhattan made with a decent rye whiskey is one of the best things that a person can imbibe. I'd had both of those in cocktails and neat. I mostly preferred them in a cocktail. But I like rye. And these two had only one pour left. If I was going to review them, I was going to have to not put them into a cocktail. I was going to have to put them into a glass all by themselves and think about them.
Cocktails are good. They do not tend to lend themselves to the contemplative tasting. But that's part of their charm. They taste good. And that's their purpose. A bad whiskey can be interesting, a bad cocktail needs to be dumped out.
So here is a double blind tasting of those two ryes that I normally used in cocktails and another that I felt belonged since I like three way tastings way better than two...
I started in the usual double blind fashion of pouring and then letting my wife mix them up. I knew which whiskey equaled which number, she knew which number equaled which letter and neither of us knew what was in any of the glasses.
Nose: Honey, slightly soapy. Hints of grass follow.
Mouth: Sweet up front, mint and grass follows
Finish: This is a hot one. There's a tingle through the entire mouth. It fades into a bitter citrus pith in the throat.
Overall: I like this, but I'm not sure this is something I would drink alone. It hits all the notes I want a rye to hit, but it isn't one that I'd go to neat on a regular basis.
Nose: Sweet. Butterscotch with a hint of baking spice
Mouth: Soft is the best word I can use. This is a sweet one.
Finish: Minty cool plus heat. This is the Icy-Hot of finishes. But it fades pretty quick.
Overall: I loved the mouthfeel of this one. There was an elegant softness that I wasn't expecting. I know that two of these are 100 proof or over and one is 80. So I'm guessing this is one of those. I don't care. I think I'm in love.
Nose: Fresh mown hay, then a hint of banana and mint.
Mouth: Thin. There isn't a lot of flavor here. Sweet and spice with a hint of bitter, but you gotta search for it.
Finish: Finish is where this brings its game. It fades from the sweet into a bitter spice. There isn't a lot of heat, but this leaves a tingle.
Overall: Standing on it's own, this is a meh. I wouldn't put it into a glass, but if I was at a bar I wouldn't turn it down depending on what else was back there. It's really just ok.
So what was what? You can see which three were being reviewed in the image above. So I'm just going to spill it. A was Rittenhouse Bottled in Bond. B was Wild Turkey 101 proof. C was Old Overholt. I was a little surprised at how much I liked the Wild Turkey, because none of these are very expensive. If you can find Wild Turkey Rye 101, it's pretty reasonable. Rittenhouse is under $25 and Old Overholt was bought for like $11 or so. Not really surprised that they ended up where they did.
My wife checked my work tonight. She thought I was mostly right, but when she tasted the Rittenhouse she proclaimed: "ooh. I don't like this." Since she doesn't actually like rye neat, I wouldn't take that too hard if I were them.
Well, now I'm off to pour what's left together and make the world's most strangely concocted manhattan. Well, as far as the whiskey is concerned. The manhattan will follow my standard recipe.