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  1. #11
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    Re: Are ryes getting better?

    Well put, I agree fully that Old Overholt is kind of a milder Wild Turkey Rye (remember too Overholt is 20 points weaker in proof). To some degree rye whiskey has a "muddy" taste but at its best that side is minimised and you get either a spicy character (like the current WT and Overholt) or somtimes a peppermint-like taste (e.g. Old Rip Van Winkle Rye and Classic Cask rye). The latter two are older than WT and Overholt rye so maybe that peppermint is something rye gets after many years in the bottle.

    In any case, I assure people who want to try real rye whiskey that current Overholt and Wild Turkey rye are very good examples of the style and both are excellent values especially Old Overholt. It is a direct yet flavorful straight whiskey for some 11-13 dollars - truly a bargain of large proportions..

    gary

  2. #12
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    Re: Are ryes getting better?

    Rye whiskey hearkens back to European styles of spirits since it employs a northern European grain that has been used for centuries in Germanic or Germanic-influenced lands to make liquor. I have decided to bring my Filliers 5 year old genever gin to Sampler so people can see how close European rye spirit can be to straight rye. Filliers is from Belgium and is made from a cereal mash of which a majority of the grains is rye. The rest is corn, wheat and barley malt, i.e., a U.S. straight whiskey-type mash. The product is NOT flavored with juniper, it is unflavored despite carrying the name gin (this information is from Michael Jackson's writings on genever). Filliers is aged 5 years. I don't know the specifics of distillation method or distillation proof but based on the taste it is not GNS quite evidently. Aging in wood gives it a taste quite close to U.S. rye, the main difference is Filliers evidently is not aged in new charred wood, it is aged (as is traditional for most European spirits) in reused cooperage. So that smoky sweet wood taste you get in all straight whiskey isn't there, oak flavor yes but not the "red layer" taste of U.S. whiskey. Still, the Filliers is a cousin to the U.S. version of rye spirit, the undertone in both drinks is the same (this was even truer when Overholt was thinner a few years ago and showed less barrel character than today). In my opinion, the survival of a rye spirit in a corner of Belgium that shows some resemblance to U.S. rye is (some) evidence that straight rye really is European in origin. Bourbon is all-American but not straight rye, it must have been brought to the U.S. by German-speakers who were familiar with techniques of rye distillation at home. I shall come to Sampler equiped with a near full crock of Filliers 5 year old genever "gin"; I believe people who essay it will see the connection to straight whiskey and that it can't be coincidence.

    gary

  3. #13
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    Re: Are ryes getting better?

    I certainly agree with the value of Old Overholt. My buying it expecting. correctly, a good, interesting whiskey at a great price was an act prompted by all the knowledgeable posters on these boards, including you of course, for which I thank you all (there are actually a number of bottles in my stash that are the result of the same process). Would you describe the peppermint tones as being in Sazerac? I've not found the Van Winkle or Classic Cask ryes. I have a bottle of the Saz, but I don't sample it too often because I realize that drinking it "too often" would translate into "too quickly." And I have the only bottle I could find.
    Bob

  4. #14
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    Re: Are ryes getting better?

    I've not found the Van Winkle or Classic Cask ryes.
    Hi Bob, I notice you're from Decatur. If you're looking for the Classic Cask rye, try Green's Liquors on Ponce de Leon...I was there a couple of months ago and bought a bottle of the Classic Cask rye. Not sure if they'd still have it in stock, but worth a look. They have a nice bourbon selection too!

  5. #15
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    Re: Are ryes getting better?

    Sazerac 18 year old rye to my taste has a dry, characteristic cereal flavor that is more spicy than peppermint-like. It reminds me more of an older version of, say, Wild Turkey or Overholt than, say, ORVW 13 year old rye. I am not sure differing proportions of rye to corn can explain this, I think it has to do with yeast or other factors. Probably all ryes have some of each flavor but some seem oriented more to one than the other. Canadian rye whisky classicly is lightly flavoured with the kind of taste we are talking about that is dry, cereal-like, spicy: e.g. Schenley OFC is like that, so is Crown Royal usually (sometimes the accent in CR seems more bourbon-like). But in Canadian whisky it is only an accent since the main work is being done - or not - by the light whisky base which can be distilled from any cereals and to a high proof. In American rye you get the full-bore taste since it is all straight whiskey made with 51% or more rye. (Maybe earthy is a better term than "muddy" to describe the spicy/grainy side of rye whiskey).

    The different facets of rye whisky take time to accustom to and some persons never come to terms with the flavor. I find it a rewarding taste because of the big flavors, the directness and dryness. A Canadian rye that shows this spicy cereal characteristic is Barrel Select of 40 Creek. Like the current Overholt it is well-shaded by barrel tones except in the Canadian whisky like for Filliers, the predominant barrel taste is "dry oaky". This denotes non-charred wood aging. Some Canadian whisky including Barrel Select uses some new charred wood for some of its make-up but in Canadian whisky red layer taste is at most an accent, never the main characteristic. In U.S. whiskey the smoky sweet cured red layer taste defines every rye (and bourbon) whiskey.

    Rye whiskey aged in non-charred wood is probably one of the early forms of U.S. rye whiskey, i.e., appearing before use of the new charred barrel became generalised. So in other words Canadian ryes like Forty Creek and also Lot 40, and the European, aged, rye-based Filliers, may resemble one kind of early U.S. rye whiskey. The Old Potrero that is aged in toasted but not charred casks may be another example as is claimed by the maker, i.e., a rye from a time (18th century) when charred casks were not used or not exclusively. When you taste Overholt it seems to be what Filliers or Forty Creek or Lot 40 would be if placed in a new charred cask for at least 4 years. Anyway there is a family resemblance to all these drinks and they seem apart from bourbon which due to its majority corn content is a uniquely American spirit. Whereas American rye whiskey still shows lineage I think to European influences.

    Gary

  6. #16
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    Re: Are ryes getting better?

    For me at this point I will say the Old Potrero Rye has a great (I don't know the
    right word for smell or aroma in english)taste to my nose and tongue.
    And I know for price wise it is not a every day pour but I like what there
    tring to make. It is at the 100$ range but it is worth the price.
    Then comes Sazerac and the Van Winkles and the WT and the Beams.
    The Rittenhouse is extraordinarly for the price it is offered.10$ for the BIB.
    Everyone should try it !!

    Koji

  7. #17
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    Re: Are ryes getting better?

    Thanks. I'll swing by Green's in the next couple of days. Hope they still have the Classic Cask; since all the ryes I have, Gary describes as "spicy" or "cereal" I really do need to find a "peppermint" variety. These explorations are fun.

    Bob

  8. #18
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    Re: Are ryes getting better?

    Bob, there are a number of bourbons that have a high rye content that offer the peppermint/wintermint palate: one is Bulleit, another is Four Roses Single Barrel. While these are certainly bourbons they are rye-like in many ways. Grandad 114 is rye-like too but here it is more the spicy/cereal type of taste, so again Bulleit or Four Roses Single Barrel may be more the ticket for the peppermint-type of rye taste. Classic Cask rye (I have only had the 21 year old) is good but it comes at a high price.

    Gary

  9. #19
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    Re: Are ryes getting better?

    Thanks Gary. I have only tasted Bulleit once, but will re-visit it. My impression was that I didn't care for it, but might with more time. On the other hand, OGD 114 is a real favorite, and has been since the first taste. So perhaps simple availability has already allowed me to stumble on a preference for the spicy/cereal rye style. It will, of course, require further study.

    Bob

  10. #20
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    Re: Are ryes getting better?

    Gary,

    I would agree that there are lots of great ryes out there now. Whether there's more now than in the past, I can't say. I wish however, that they were more readily available. Despite the number of very fine ryes that have been mentioned, how much is known by the average liquor store owner & employees about rye? Very Little. I just want to slap those dummies when I ask for rye, and they point out there Canadian Club.

    Anyway, I rank JB rye at the bottom; Old Overholt slightly above JB; WT rye quite a bit above the OO; Van Winkle/Saz/Classic Cask are all superb! I recently tried Rittenhouse at LeNell's and thought that too was a superior rye at a great price. Luckily I was able recently to find a couple of bottles. I'll have to sample it a lot more now at my leisure.

 

 

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