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Monday, April 4, 2016

NOT Single Malt Report: Single Cask Nation's MGP 8 year old Straight Rye, cask #52

My wife likes MGP-distilled rye, I like MGP-distilled rye, and we have the folks at Willett to thank for that.  But Willett is far from the only company that ages and bottles whiskey from Midwest Grain Products WonderFactory™.  In honor of my wife's birthday, I will review four MGP ryes from four different companies this week.  She actually had first dibs on all of these, and she provided her own notes and rankings.  On Friday, after my reviews are complete, I'll reveal her rankings and compare our findings.

First up:  A single barrel of 8 year old MGP rye bottled by Single Cask Nation.  This sample arrived via a swap with my friend Linda who has provided me with a number of great (or at least entertaining!) American whiskey samples recently.  She prefers bourbon over rye, but she and her husband, Brett (with whom I swap scotch samples), are SCN members and are happy to try all sorts of whiskies.  Thanks, Linda!

Distiller: Midwest Grain Products
Bottler: Single Cask Nation
Type: Straight Rye Whiskey
Region: Lawrenceburg, Indiana
Age: 8 years
Mashbill: 95% rye, 5% malted barley
Maturation: New American oak
Cask: 52
Limited bottling: 131
Alcohol by Volume: 60.9%

The nose is sooooper woody.  As in pulp and bark.  Underneath that it's salty, buttery, and briney.  Next, there's dried cheese, pickles, and something slightly eggy.  Distant dark fruit notes mingle with halvah.  With time, it develops varnish, coconut hand lotion, and fresh oregano notes.

The palate is pretty darn hot.  But there are more familiar rye notes here than in the nose.  Definitely some dill.  Cherry popsicles, marzipan, caramel, and vanilla.  Some generic barrel char.  20 minutes in, a big green herbal note appears.

On the finish, there's heat.  Lots of heat.  Gotta work through that.  Then sugar, peppery rye, sawdust, caramel, and a hint of orange peel.

This was tough.  I have never added water to a barrel proof MGP rye, but this time I felt it was necessary.

WITH WATER (~50%abv)
The nose is nuttier, think almonds and cashews.  Less heat.  Eventually that egg note fades out.  Slight floral note meets a larger vanilla one.  Still some sharp wood/bark notes.

The palate is earthier and more peppery.  Much less heat, though it holds onto the sweetness.  Some drying tannins.  Hints of mint and lemons.

The finish is also less hot, though more drying.  More mint and pepper.  Cherry candies.

I know it's sexier to sell (and buy!) whisky at full strength, but some whiskies work better at lower proofs.  This whiskey was very hot and difficult at full strength.  In fact, I didn't want to drink anymore of it while doing this tasting.  When I drank the last quarter ounce the following day, I couldn't finish it off and started feeling like I was already tired of drinking rye this week.  But by adding water and dropping it to 50%abv during the tasting, I found that it cleaned up reasonably well.  The C grade whisky became a low B-.  Not that that's a great grade for an MGP rye from an MGP-biased reviewer, but it's better.  So if you bought this cask from SCN and it's not really doing anything for you, add water, maybe even generously so.

Availability - Sold out
Pricing - actually, I have no idea. It doesn't appear in SCN's current or archive bottle pages. If you remember the price, let me know and I'll update this.
Rating - 80 (with water only, 5-10 points lower when without water)