View Full Version : A New Rye
Well, I thought I'd sampled the gamut of rye with my recent tastings at Whiskyfest - I've had the Sazerac, the VW 13, Old Potrero and Anchor's charred oak rye, as well as Beam, Old Overholt, Wild Turkey, and, of course, my holy grail, Sam Thompson. The only ones I've missed (I thought) were the Hirsch and VW 12-year-old premium ryes and Pikesville and Stephen Foster (?) low-priced ryes.
So, I walk into the Shadyside specialty LCB store in Pittsburgh last night, and see this squat, black-waxed bottle with a simple buff label featuring a line-drawing of a keg, and announcing that this was "The Classic Cask hand crafted Single Batch Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey - Aged 15 years". Written in pen was "Batch #: RW-102, Distilled: 1984, Bottled: 1999, Bottle #: 106/263", and further down, "90 proof, 45% Alc. by Vol., Distilled and Bottled in Kentucky". On a small back label we have "bottled by the Classic Cask Co., Bardstown, KY, Spirit Imports, Inc., sole distributors". This little item went for $50 the bottle - there were three on the shelf. I bought one.
On getting it home and chewing away at the black wax, I note a cork that's fresh and clean-smelling, not an old or abused bottle. The whiskey is a relatively dark mahogany brown. In my little snifter the body is extraordinarily thick and viscous, with legs that would slowly dwindle to fine threads. The nose is open and accessible - leathery rye with elements of roasting peanuts and warm springtime soil (I imagined green rye sprouts). Mouthfeel is thick and coating - I could actually chew the film on my tongue - with flavors of oak, rye-spice, blackstrap molasses and copper. The finish was medium-long, softening as it went, with a clear apple taste just as I was ready for another sip, and a final whiff of butter. This was a complex, highly mature whiskey with very clear flavor layers - to my beginner's palate, a world-class spirit.
What is this stuff? I've never heard of it before, and the age narrows the possibilities. If it's either Ken or Julian's whiskey I might better understand the quality - whoever made this should take a bow, and tell us a little about "The Classic Cask".
Neither Ken nor Julian would be labeling their products "Bardstown." The likely culprit is Heaven Hill but the grandiosity of it all suggests Even Kulsveen. I hope someone knows for sure. I don't.
--Chuck Cowdery (http://cowdery.home.netcom.com)
It's not Heaven Hill.
Even is responsible for Johnny Drum 15, which has many of those qualities, but I didn't know he did a straight rye. Ralph's description reads a lot like the way I taste Julian's wonderful 12yr old, but like you said, it wouldn't have "Bardstown" on the label if it were Old Rip. Unless Even buys his rye from wherever Julian gets his? Remember, Julian doesn't distill directly, he has his product produced to order -- and I don't think he's ever said by whom. Perhaps he's not their only customer. I have a lot of respect for Even Kulsveen (especially now that I can spell his name correctly), and I wouldn't be at all surprised to learn of a new quality product from him. He's about at the top of my "I have to meet this individual" list right now, you know.
I'd bet it's a Sazerac rye. Classic Cask also bottles a 17-YO straight bourbon which matches your packaging description (limited to 600 bottles) and it tastes very much like the new 17 Eagle Rare.
If you see another 15 YO bottle and it doesn't say rye, grab it. Chances are it's the 15-yr export-only Eagle. Good stuff.
We sold two barrels of whiskey a few years ago that we should not have done. I do not know if it was the rye or not. I honestly don't know who the father of this brand is.
Dammit Man! I want some of that rye! Flavors of "...blackstrap molassas and copper." With a clear apple finish! Heaven. I'll tell you true Ralph when you've got molasses and apples working in your whiskey for you then you've got something special! Buy as many bottles as you can. Please bring one to Bardsatown, as I'd like to share a taste with you.
Have Shotglass. Will Travel.
The other possibility is always Barton. I haven't heard about them making any rye whiskey in the recent or distant past, but there is no reason they couldn't. There has to be someone who at least bottled the product in Bardstown if it says Bardstown on the label. The only producers who use Bardstown on their labels are Heaven Hill, Barton and Willett.
--Chuck Cowdery (http://cowdery.home.netcom.com)
When are you guys & girl going to learn:
Anything "Bottled" in Bardstown is Even's Whiskey. Anything "distilled" is Barton or HH. I would imagine it is Heaven Hill whiskey-as most of his is.
If you see a "bottled by" location, like "Classic Cask Co", go to the KY Secretary of State's web site & look under "trademarks" to find out who bottles what. All trade names bottled in KY have to registered with this office.
OH.. MY.. GOODNESS!!!
Julian, why have you watched us writhe in agony (not to mention ignorance) so long before offering this? What an incredible (whoops, I guess that's not really the right word, is it?) resource. See ya, folks. I may be stuck inside that website for awhile before checking back.
<font color=yellow>Ralph queries:</font color=yellow>
<font color=orange>"What is this stuff? I've never heard of it before, and the age narrows the possibilities. If it's either Ken or Julian's whiskey I might better understand the quality - whoever made this should take a bow, and tell us a little about 'The Classic Cask'."</font color=orange>
This, and the bourbon by the same name, is being marketed by Alan Shayne, president of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society US Chapter. Julian probably has the best insight as to its origin.
OK here's another bump for Doug and the quest for Classic Cask.
I just searched on "old rip van winkle" (http://www.kysos.com/trademarks/tmsearch1.asp?oldsearchtext=classic+cask&searchby= wordmark&keywordtype=AND&searchstrg=old+rip+van+wi nkle&page=1&show=25&oldsearch=wordmark+LIKE+%27%25 classic%25%27+AND+wordmark+LIKE+%27%25cask%25%27) to get an idea how the Kentucky Secretary of State's site works, and the one hit that turned up is Shuckman's Fish Co. and Smokery.
What do I not understand about trademarks in Kentucky?
Shuckman's sells a product that is marinated in Van Winkle bourbon.
We bottle The Classic Cask.
We notice that the Classic Cask line of bourbons and ryes are released every year or so and the label reflects the increasing ages of the product.
Since a label change ( age of whiskey ) takes time and could be costly, do the owners go through this process every time a new bottling is created or were the labels submitted for approval at the beginning of the venture?
Also are all the releases from the same original stock, or is new batch whiskey selected for each release?
As I understand it , at some point Shuckmans went with Woodford Reserve.
Lewis Shuckman switched from using my 15-year Old Rip to Woodford in his smoked fish about two ago. Brown-Forman pumped a bunch of $$$ into his facility.
What kind of fish does he smoke, where, and where available?
Shuckman's Gourmet Smoked Fish and Caviar (http://www.kysmokedfish.com)
I spoke to Lewis just this week.
His signature item is smoked spoonfish (actually paddlefish) marinated in Woodford Reserve. He also marinates and smokes trout and salmon. He does a cold smoked salmon marinated in Lime Vodka (Finlandia)
Rumor is that a certin TN whiskey may end up in the marinade soon. Another signature product is KY Spoonfish caviar. Smaller than Beluga, about the color and size of Osetra. When fresh squeezed, I think it rivals any caviar on the market. He ships. He makes some smoked salmon spreads and I've even seen shrimp in the store. (smoked!!)
He recently got a fairly large grant from the Commonwealth of Kentucky and upgraded all his equipment. Check out his site at kysmokedfish.com.
Tell him Ed sent ya.
I picked up recently the same brand of rye but aged 21 years. I searched for discussion on Classic Cask. It is a Willett's (the Kulsveens) bottling whose origin is not known for sure but people speculated (this goes back to when the post above was written) that Buffalo Trace was the source, I think Omar said that and I think Omar you are right because this 21 year old has a flavor that to me is quite close to Sazerac 18 year old rye except richer, heavier. The description above of Classic Cask 15 year old is very close to what I would say for the 21 year old, the increase in age hasn't seemed to make much difference. That is a good thing because at 21 years old, I might worry somewhat about excess tannis but while well-oaked, this whiskey is not bitter or astringent/acidic, also, it has a fruity core I really like that defines old rye for me. This is different in style from ORVW 13 year old rye but as good.
The tasters who selected this know what they are doing.
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