This evening while rummaging through the cabinet for a preprandial drink, I ran across a liter bottle of Stephen Foster rye that I bought in Wisconsin a couple of years ago while visiting my sister. At that time, I simply picked it up to complete a survey of all of the available staright ryes. I didn't expect much based on reviews, and in that regard, I wasn't disappointed. When I tasted it neat, it seemed rather young and raw, a distinct contrast to Fleischmann's, a similarly priced whickey.
Now, I'm quite a fan of young rye whiskey. I love Fleischmann's and Jim Beam, and the new Rittenhouse 80 proof. (I think I've posted comments on these previously.)
But this one seemed all at sorts with itself, and all-in-all, just young, too light, and feinty. Why drink it when better ryes are available?
Well, one reason is my Scots ancestry (despite my name, although Germans are also notoriously cheap, err, frugal) - I'm too cheap to toss it. So I tried it first in a Manhattan. No-go. The vermouth overwhelmed it. Down the drain. (Although in retrospect, maybe I should try less vermouth, as when I make a Canadian Manhattan.)
So how about simply on the rocks?
Well, now here we have something! Rather like a really nice Canadian whisky. Recognizably a rye, but not as bold as a typical US one. And really, quite and utterly charming! Much lighter than most US ryes. I think that my Canuck friends who are put off by bombastic ryes (such as I am always thrusting on them) would like this one.
It all goes to show two things (to me, at least) - one, that there are really no really bad US whiskeys, only better ones; and two, that some whiskeys show better in some presentations than in others.
We really are living in a golden age of American whiskey.
Now, I suppose I really ought to finish preparing dinner.