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Rye Conundrum


smokinjoe
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High West combined different whiskys to create something greater than the parts. I could see a point in the future when the micros divide into those who want to make whisky and those who want to buy, blend, package and sell it.

Rye already has the history and the heritage and I think the market (worldwide) would be receptive to some innovative Ryes.

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I wonder sometimes if Rye is just supposed to be a supplemental beverage grain. In the wine world, some grapes just don't sing well on their own but make some great harmony with others. That being said, I really like the LDI derived ryes and Saz variations.

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It doesn't get much love, probably deserved in part due to the relatively high price, and it is always on the shelf but I rather like the CEHT rye. It has those earthy, vegetal notes that help it stand out.

I also like the fairly unique Leopold Bros Maryland Style rye and look forward to the BIB at some point in the future. If I can get my hands on one that is!

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It doesn't get much love, probably deserved in part due to the relatively high price, and it is always on the shelf but I rather like the CEHT rye. It has those earthy, vegetal notes that help it stand out.

I also like the fairly unique Leopold Bros Maryland Style rye and look forward to the BIB at some point in the future. If I can get my hands on one that is!

Finally into the bottle of Maryland style rye that you found for me. Definitely unique and not a daily pour, but it is a great change of pace. However, it is still a bit "green" would love to try this with some more age on it. What's the story with the BIB?

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Thanks for the discussion, y'all. It's been very enlightening. I think my takeaway from this is that my preconceived ideas of rye descriptors have been off base. Rather than "spicy", "bold", and "sharp", I'm inclined to agree with "herbal", "earthy", and some of the other attributes listed in this thread. Nice call folks. Which leads me to something else that I see in ryes from different distilleries; they each have a different "house style". To me, it's more of a distinction between distilleries than the bourbons are. Much more identifiable. Different ryes, perhaps, from different areas? Dunno.

Anywho, it's what I love about this place...You never stop learning about the whiskey, and yourself.

:toast:

Think I'll go pour myself a THH to mark the occasion...:yum:

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Finally into the bottle of Maryland style rye that you found for me. Definitely unique and not a daily pour, but it is a great change of pace. However, it is still a bit "green" would love to try this with some more age on it. What's the story with the BIB?

Todd (I think) Leopold has indicated they plan to age and release some of this rye as a BIB. Still at least a couple of years, maybe more to go though.

http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/showthread.php?15456-Leopold-Bros-Maryland-Style-Rye-Whiskey&p=285165&viewfull=1#post285165

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I find that some of the LDI made ryes can have a fruity taste in the profile, similar to canned apricots or peaches. This I get most from some of the Willett barrel proof. I notice more of the dill taste in Bulleit. Dickel seems either to be older, or picks that up from the maple charcoal. Apricots, dill, and mint (to varying degrees) that's what I taste in LDI ryes. I like it, but it's not for everyone.

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Another vote for the CETH rye, need to bring in a bottle from the bunker

For those going on the BT Hard Hat tour at the Sampler (would love to go but my plans aren't completely set yet) it would be interesting to see if they will let slip any details on the CEHT Rye mashbill and if this rye will play any role in replacing the VWFRR and Saz 18 rye. The Saz 18 may eventually become all aged Handy mashbill but perhaps the future version of VWFRR could be made a bit more distinctive by combining the presumably different mashbills of Handy and CEHT rye.

Presuming something good could come of a blend of those mashbills of course. Heck, I might try doing some of that on my own!

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Todd (I think) Leopold has indicated they plan to age and release some of this rye as a BIB. Still at least a couple of years, maybe more to go though.

http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/showthread.php?15456-Leopold-Bros-Maryland-Style-Rye-Whiskey&p=285165&viewfull=1#post285165

We're about a year out from BIB releases. But we're also just a couple months away from opening our new plant. Fast forward 4 years and we'll have much larger stocks of BIB.

Appreciate the interest.

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Nothing to add that hasn't been said, but this kind of post is why SB is such a great place to learn.

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Koval distillery in Chicago makes a 100% rye whiskey. I'm not sure how their current line of whiskeys differs from the stuff they put out previously; when I tasted it, it was under the Lion's Pride label and it was called Dark Rye, being aged longer (?) and in more heavily charred barrels (??) than their Rye. I think their current rye whiskey is more similar to what they used to call their Dark Rye, but I could be wrong on that.

Anyway, I think the vegetal thing is right on, and another flavor I find in rye and in Koval's rye whiskey particularly, is violet, like the way the flower smells. I find a bubblegum taffy sort of sap thing in more aged ryes like VWFRR, which could be a progression of the grassy, flowery characteristics, though on the other hand, it could be all barrel as far as I know.

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As I recall they used to be dark and light or something to that effect but it wasn't age related. The dark had more char but was younger than the light. Not sure what they are doing these days though.

not that either were very old!

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To paraphrase some advice given to me by Dick Stoll (If you're into rye whiskey, that name should be familiar!)- He said that most modern ryes only contain the minimum 51% rye because rye is expensive and most people want an easy to drink whiskey. The average current-day drinker doesn't want a strong rye. He went on to say that he felt that many of the very high rye content rye whiskies are not only more expensive/difficult to distill, but if not done right, they could be very imbalanced and many people wouldn't care for them due to the bitterness or unsmooth flavors. He said he felt the best balanced ryes that Pennco/Michter's made was when they assumed the Sam Thompson label in the 70's. He said all of their ryes were the usual 51% rye except for the Sam Thompson, which was 65% rye. He said that percentage was enough to give the Sam Thompson more complexity and depth without a risk of most drinkers thinking it is imbalanced in profile. While I thought about this, I realized that may be the issue. We only really have 2 types of ryes on the market anymore- the mass-produced 51% ryes and the craft or smaller-batch 80% or higher ryes. And it's not to say either are wrong as there are plenty of ryes on the market that are fantastic. But there are no ryes in the 60-70% rye content range right now that I know of. Is that what we're missing? Did we lose our balance because we're either going cheap or creative?

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We only really have 2 types of ryes on the market anymore- the mass-produced 51% ryes and the craft or smaller-batch 80% or higher ryes
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That's the way I see it. It's used by every upstart NDP out there these days that wants to look little and crafty.

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The other part of the equation is if course the yeast. Did Thompson mention anything about the yeast that was used? Any chance anyone is still using the same strain? Hopefully the small guys experimenting with very high Rye mash bills are also experimenting with different yeast and someone will hit upon a combo that really works well.

While aging location and mash bills are a significant part of it I'm beginning to think that the signature house characteristics of most of the majors is largely because of the yeast they use. When corn overtook rye as the predominant grain in american whiskey after prohibition the yeast that the producers chose to use naturally favored a balanced taste with corn. Seems little thought was given to finding a yeast that was more sympathetic to Rye.

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Mr. Stoll told me that Pennco used Beam yeast until Everett Beam retired there in the mid-70's. After that, Dick would make a lactic sour yeast from Red Star.

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