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Revisiting Ryes. Seeking Recommendations.


WhereIsMyOldAccount
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WhereIsMyOldAccount

I've mostly used ryes for mixers and typically it was Bulleit Rye. Tried some cheaper bottles like Overholt or Rittenhouse but never cared much for ryes as a sipper. I did like Bulleit Rye neat as it had the interesting "dill" flavoring. But aside from that it was pretty one dimensional and felt rather thin on its own.  I have a friend of a friend who loves ryes and has let me sample some of his collection. THH was great but everything else disappointing. These samples were mostly small indie bottlings that I have never heard of. NAS but it felt quite young. Just thin and the alcohol bite was noticeable. 

 

So now I'm looking for a rye sipper and need recommendations. I'd like something with more complexity and a fuller mouth feel. Or perhaps full mouth feel/oily viscosity and rye doesn't mix well. I don't know.

 

Ryes seem comparatively more expensive than bourbons. JD Rye is $28 and WTR 101 is $40 per 1L.  I also think it's a bit of a disservice to start with bargain products and draw conclusions. But I also don't want to spend $100 on a premium product only to find I don't like it. So a bottle in the $40-50 wheelhouse seems ideal to me. I'm leaning towards baby Saz, Lot 40, or Pikesville. Lot40 albeit it a Canadian rye and perhaps not fit for this subforum garners good reviews. Pikesville 110 is appealing due to the ABV but I didn't care for Ritten so I don't know if I will like it as a result. Any other products I should look at? I am willing to spend $100 on ryes so maybe I should just go for a EHT Rye or WhistlePig at $80. But I'd rather try two or more products for $100. 

 

My concern with the lower rye mash bills is if they will just taste like Bulleit Rye mixed with bourbon. A lot of the "barely legal" ryes I sampled tasted like. Like a bargain bourbon such as EWB mixed with Bulleit Rye. Thus I'm wondering if I should look at higher rye mashes as I want rye to be a fairly prominent feature. 

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Rye, especially anything age stated, does tend to be more expensive than bourbon. There simply isn't a lot of available aged rye whiskey and the demand is quite high these days.

 

Pikesville is generally an easy recommendation but the family resemblance to the Heaven Hill distilled Rittenhouse is rather clear. So if you didn't like Rittenhouse I would suggest trying it in a bar rather than picking up a bottle. I personally find Pikesville a noticeable step up, but again the flavor profile is rather similar.

 

If you shop around online you can find Whistlepig 10/100 for $55-60, which I find is a more agreeable price. $80 or so is a bit much. For $80, you can find barrel proof single barrel store picks which tend to be phenomenal (in the same league as THH in my opinion). The Wine and Cheese Place has a couple different barrels right now ($76), and so does Stagecoach ($80). The store picks can be a bit hot right out of the bottle, but after the bottle has a bit of air time they really shine. WP 10/100 and store picks are Canadian sourced 100% rye. WP has a few other bottles, like the 12 year which is a lower proof MGP rye with various barrel finishes, and their "Farmstock" which is a blend of their own craft distillate and some other stuff. Generally I would avoid anything but the 10/100 and the store picks. 

 

Masterson's also has a 10 year 100 proof rye which is sourced from Alberta like Whistlepig. Masterson's has a bit of a different flavor profile than WP (I get a distinct nuttiness). I tend to prefer WhistlePig, but Masterson's falls in the complex, full mouth feel category for sure. I think Masterson's 10/100 is generally about $60. Lock Stock and Barrel make a 13 year and 16 year which share the same flavor profile but tend to run in the $100+ range, so again something you might want to try in a bar rather than get a bottle of.

 

Russell's Reserve Single Barrel tends to be great. Unlike the Canadian sourced ryes, this one is more like 65% rye I think. At 104 and probably 6 years or so it's quite nice. If you like Wild Turkey rye you'll likely be quite pleased with this. Usually $65 or so. The 6 year 90 proof RRR isn't bad either but I tend to think of it as more of a mixer than something I would sip.

 

C.E.H Taylor Rye is a little pricey at $70 but another one that would qualify as a good sipper. This has a rather unique flavor profile, unlike most ryes on the market.

 

Mitcher's Barrel Proof Rye is rather good. I'm not sure where they source this stuff from but I like it. The standard Mitcher's rye is okay but nothing to write home about. There is a toasted barrel proof Mitcher's rye on the market right now which you may be able to find with a bit of effort, I haven't tried it but it's probably decent.

 

HighWest Rendezvous tends to be a decent choice if you like MGP's 95% ryes, which is where Bulliet get's their juice along with a whole lot of other NDPs. HWR uses a blend of 6 and 16 year old rye, which really sets it apart from all the 2-4 year old MGP sourced products on the market. You can generally find HWRR for around $55 if you shop around. Even still, I tend to think of HWRR as more of a premium cocktail rye and would grab one of the few mentioned above for sipping. 

 

HighWest Bourye is another interesting one as it's generally a blend of 9-10 to 16 year old bourbons and ryes, though it's usually closer to $70 so perhaps worth trying at a bar. I find Bourye to be an exceptional sipper, though that likely has to do with the fact that it's got a decent amount of bourbon in it, and it tends to have notable oak and leather flavors (some of my favorite flavors in whiskey) that I only really find in 15+ year plus bourbon.

 

I know a lot of people like Lot 40, but I found it quite disappointing. It's a ghost of a whiskey compared to US bottled Canadian sourced ryes like Whistlepig or Masterson's. Light, soft, smooth, unexceptional and lacking the rye kick I would expect. This applies to most Canadian whiskey in my experience. Pendleton (regular and 12 year), JP Wisers 18, Crown Royal Norther Harvest, etc. I've stopped buying Canadian whiskeys because I'm always disappointed with them.

Edited by EarthQuake
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For someone dipping their toes in, I would recommend High West Double Rye and Hochstadter's Vatted Straight Rye, both are around $30 here and both are blends of different mashbills from different distilleries but both offer something really unique, HVSRW to me punches way above it's price point. If I had to pick the best Rye I had this year it would be close between Handy, Kentucky Owl and a store pick of High West Double Rye aged in Bourbon barrels for a couple extra years and bottled at a higher proof, it was just under $40 and I wish I would have bought more than two.

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I like HWDR as an affordable mixing option, probably one of the best there is but I'm not a big fan of it as a sipper as the 2 year old rye tends to dominate, though I have heard excellent things about their barrel finished store pick selections. TWCP has a HWDR store pick finished in manhattan barrels currently in stock, which I've been tempted to try.

 

HVSRW is another one of those like Lot 40 that everyone but me seems to like. I was really disappointed with it, there was a very young grain forward rye component to it that really overwhelmed and ruined it for me, something I typically get from small barrel craft ryes. I couldn't even make cocktails with this stuff, I think I ended up using it for bitters and cooking. But of course, there no accounting for personal taste so maybe I'm just weird.

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If I had to pick just one & make your job easier: High West Rendezvous for an all around great rye with the "dill". The step up from the common Double Rye is well worth the price I think.

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Plenty of good suggestions, but don't forget about Knob Creek rye.  It's available, affordable, and pretty darn good! 

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Picked up a James E. Pepper 1776 Rye Barrel Proof today for $33. It has that classic 95% MGP rye flavor profile but with a bit more spice and not too hot for 114 proof.

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Sour Mash Esq.

I’m a buyer of CEHTR whenever I come across it.  But HWDR is always around and very tasty, only a shade less than HWRR but nearly half the price.  Michters is pretty decent as is baby Saz, both very affordable.

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BottledInBond

I’m on board with the Rendezvous Rye, Pikesville, and Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel suggestions personally if you want a neat sipper, and you don’t have to spend anywhere near $100 on those. 

 

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WhereIsMyOldAccount

Having my BIL pick up Whistlepig from stagecoach. Not sure which one to pick but leaning towards the 120.3 proof just because of the higher ABV. In the meanwhile the LS round here don't have much and shipping spirits to this part of Texas isn't allowed. Rendezvous is $70, HW DR is $35, CEHT Rye $80, Saz $25, Ritt $31, KC Rye $25, Pikesville $50.  Saz and KCR seem decently priced so I could pick one of those along with Pikesville. Otherwise I'll opt for HW Rendezvous or CEHTR.

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On 12/30/2017 at 6:56 PM, WhereIsMyOldAccount said:

Having my BIL pick up Whistlepig from stagecoach. Not sure which one to pick but leaning towards the 120.3 proof just because of the higher ABV. In the meanwhile the LS round here don't have much and shipping spirits to this part of Texas isn't allowed. Rendezvous is $70, HW DR is $35, CEHT Rye $80, Saz $25, Ritt $31, KC Rye $25, Pikesville $50.  Saz and KCR seem decently priced so I could pick one of those along with Pikesville. Otherwise I'll opt for HW Rendezvous or CEHTR.

I can verify that the Stagecoach WP 120 proof is great especially if you like higher proof whiskey. I haven't tried the lower proof one.

 

CEHTR is good, but in my opinion not $80 (or $70 that it sells for in my area) good. Picked up one bottle which I rather liked but won't buy another unless I can get it for closer to $50. I'll take Pikesvlle at $50 any day over CEHTR. Saz at $25 is a good price. Ritt is good at near $20, but for $31 I would pass and go right to the Pikesville which is better in every way.

 

HWRR is a bit much for me at $70 too, it's a decent buy at closer to $55 or so. Though if you like the typical MGP flavor profile it's a good chance you'll really like it, and the double rye too. Both are at the top of the list in terms of reasonably available MGP sourced rye.

Edited by EarthQuake
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IncredulousNosco
On 12/26/2017 at 10:12 AM, EarthQuake said:

...WP 10/100 and store picks are Canadian sourced 100% rye. WP has a few other bottles, like the 12 year which is a lower proof MGP rye with various barrel finishes, and their "Farmstock" which is a blend of their own craft distillate and some other stuff. Generally I would avoid anything but the 10/100 and the store picks. 

 

Masterson's also has a 10 year 100 proof rye which is sourced from Alberta like Whistlepig. Masterson's has a bit of a different flavor profile than WP (I get a distinct nuttiness). I tend to prefer WhistlePig, but Masterson's falls in the complex, full mouth feel category for sure. I think Masterson's 10/100 is generally about $60. Lock Stock and Barrel make a 13 year and 16 year which share the same flavor profile but tend to run in the $100+ range, so again something you might want to try in a bar rather than get a bottle of.

 

...

 

I know a lot of people like Lot 40, but I found it quite disappointing. It's a ghost of a whiskey compared to US bottled Canadian sourced ryes like Whistlepig or Masterson's. Light, soft, smooth, unexceptional and lacking the rye kick I would expect. This applies to most Canadian whiskey in my experience. Pendleton (regular and 12 year), JP Wisers 18, Crown Royal Norther Harvest, etc. I've stopped buying Canadian whiskeys because I'm always disappointed with them.

That's a really great, accurate and descriptive post. I'm with you 100% on WP. Although in my opinion the WP BP store picks, which I get locally for $69 (regular 10yo is $65) are some of the best whiskey that I can regularly get my hands on. Although I would suggest anyone who likes the ADL profile would be quite safe in picking up a L,S&B of any age. 

 

I'm definitely not with you on lumping Lot 40 with the other Canadian produced garbage though. I find Lot 40 to be quite complex and I think it has a lot more in common with pure ADL rye than it does standard fare Canadian blends. I see it as a lower proofed kind of cross section of the ADL and MGP profiles. I think the only thing that really separates is from other great rye is the proof. Even more than malt and bourbon, rye seems to improve dramatically with proof. I'd love to try the Lot 40 CS version to test this theory out, but it seems to only be available in Canada. I know it's a low bar, but Lot 40 is easily the best whisky to come out of Canada proper...to the extent that a Pernod-Ricard whisky can be said to come out of Canada. 

 

 

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13 minutes ago, IncredulousNosco said:

That's a really great, accurate and descriptive post. I'm with you 100% on WP. Although in my opinion the WP BP store picks, which I get locally for $69 (regular 10yo is $65) are some of the best whiskey that I can regularly get my hands on. Although I would suggest anyone who likes the ADL profile would be quite safe in picking up a L,S&B of any age. 

 

I'm definitely not with you on lumping Lot 40 with the other Canadian produced garbage though. I find Lot 40 to be quite complex and I think it has a lot more in common with pure ADL rye than it does standard fare Canadian blends. I see it as a lower proofed kind of cross section of the ADL and MGP profiles. I think the only thing that really separates is from other great rye is the proof. Even more than malt and bourbon, rye seems to improve dramatically with proof. I'd love to try the Lot 40 CS version to test this theory out, but it seems to only be available in Canada. I know it's a low bar, but Lot 40 is easily the best whisky to come out of Canada proper...to the extent that a Pernod-Ricard whisky can be said to come out of Canada. 

 

 

I would take all of the ADL sourced stuff over Lot 40 any day of the week and it's not even close, I've never understood what other people have seen in it, hoping to have the chance to taste the Lot 40 CS and have my mind changed.

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On ‎1‎/‎2‎/‎2018 at 1:14 PM, kevinbrink said:

I would take all of the ADL sourced stuff over Lot 40 any day of the week and it's not even close, I've never understood what other people have seen in it, hoping to have the chance to taste the Lot 40 CS and have my mind changed.

Interesting. I had a bottle of Alberta rye I found in a Total Wine and More in Washington. I had to gag it down. In fact I dumped the last 1/4 bottle down the drain. Must not have been the same Alberta rye you are talking about here. On the other hand, I find the Lot 40 to be the best Canadian whiskey I have ever tried. Much more flavor than the usual Canadian whiskey.

 

Regards, Jim 

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3 hours ago, hawkeye62 said:

Interesting. I had a bottle of Alberta rye I found in a Total Wine and More in Washington. I had to gag it down. In fact I dumped the last 1/4 bottle down the drain. Must not have been the same Alberta rye you are talking about here. On the other hand, I find the Lot 40 to be the best Canadian whiskey I have ever tried. Much more flavor than the usual Canadian whiskey.

 

Regards, Jim 

The ADL stuff I'm referring to is the Old Jefferson 10 yr, Masterson's 10 yr, Lock Stock and Barrel and Whistle Pig 10yr. 

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