Had a good week in SF this summer and was able to try a handful of these smaller distillery Ryes from the Bay Area. Gold Run was the first of the bunch, they had it on hand at 15 Romolo in San Fran. Also found some Old Potrero Straight Rye, some Aged 1512 100% Rye, and some Whistle Pig Rye, probably in that order. The Whistle Pig isnt really the same creature, as it was a bit more aged, sourced from a larger distillery and tasted like a Michter's or Jeffersons maybe, but a higher price point that didnt warrant a follow up. But as for the other three that were small batch distilleries, the 1512 Aged was about the only one that I really enjoyed. But kinda thinking this might be akin to the rum/agricole experience.
In as I was really accustomed to how an aged spirit tastes, and the grassy bright characteristics of a younger version was a bit off putting at first. These three were so rye forward that it was so similar to almost a sharp rye bread, and the nose didnt lessen the association and it took a bit of searching to get settled in. Did try and source a bottle of 1512 online later and it was not the same release. Received the 1512 Barbershop but unaged, and it had the peppery malted rye brightness that the other two exhibited, giving credence to barrel aging, even minimal. Think the Aged 1512 is probably unattainable at the moment due to it being a small pot still product as well.
One that I have really found enjoyable and attainable has been the Delaware Phoenix Distillery Rye Whiskey, its 100% Pot distilled but aged less than 12 months in new charred oak barrels. Nose is really rye bread, grass, and grain. Taste is rye and somehow copper. Not sure if its the suggestion from the still on the bottle, but it has this mineral/metallic mixed with a grassy malted rye that I cant put a finger on but keeps me entertained.
From my conversations with other whiskey producers, there is such a thing as too long in a barrel. Have heard stories of rejected batches due to over aging even before a 10 year mark and as for wines, oaking can often serve to cover a less than remarkable wine. Think its a good trait to be able to produce a quality spirit through a mash bill and distillation techniques and some minimal barrel time.