...where distraction is the main attraction.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Birthday Booze: Blue Grass 4 year old Straight Rye 1935/1939 BIB

Yes, you read that title correctly. Usually, I put the work in to share a distillery's history or details behind an old whisky. But not today. The work I've been putting in has been for family and the daily grind, so I don't have any good research at hand. But there will be photos below!

First I'd like to share this lovely soulful tune by The Cannonball Adderley Quintet. It strikes me as relevant, starting with Cannonball's intro, "You know, sometimes we're not prepared for adversity."

I've rolled out a pair of Mega-Dusty samples previously, one 1936 bourbon for my 37th birthday and a pre-prohibition rye for this site's 1000th whisky review. I doubt I'll wait so long between Mega-Dusty reviews because I don't know how long the samples will hold up in their wee bottles during the darkest timeline.

Today's whisky — no 'e'! — comes from the very late Blue Grass Distillery Company in Louisville. I do know that Blue Grass was part of the National Distillers portfolio at the time of the rye's bottling and the whisky was barreled up from Fall 1935 to Fall 1939 because I can read the labels. And I am very thankful to have been part of the bottle split.

Bottle pics by ROC:

And my sample bottle:

The lusciously fruity nose includes mixed berry compote, guava(-ish) juice and blueberry jam. Notes like cloves, butterscotch, cotton, fruity cinnamon and roses fill in the background and mid-ground. The lack of major OBE or dusty notes leave this rye feeling very fresh. After 30 minutes in the glass, the whisky gets the full Havdalah Spice Box treatment that I so love in the best MGP ryes. The palate is very minty. Sweet, rich and tingly. Molasses and dried apricots. Hints of smoke, orange zest, lychee, cloves and herbal bitterness appear throughout. The very long finish balances sweet, salt and bitter. Honey, oranges and butterscotch, as well as plenty of fresh and dried herbs appear and linger.

Undoubtably rye from start to finish, this oldie faded not in its bottle nor my glass. Its juiciness makes it very difficult to compare to anything current, though I did match it up with some very good Willett samples. Four year old ryes today bring lots of American oak thunder, and perhaps Blue Grass did as well, 80+ years ago. But as the rye existed in my glass, the oak was very restrained. It did its job calming the spirit, without interrupting matters. I'd like to think the fruitiness was due to a specific sort of yeast and fermentation practice now lost or deemed inefficient, but really I have no idea, I just drink the stuff.

Rating - 91 (but please please ignore this number because what the hell is my point of reference?)