...where distraction is the main attraction.

Monday, September 19, 2022

The Night of 7 Mini Manhattan Cocktails

There has been less and less scotch at Columbus Scotch Night. Scotch whisky's availability and pricing have been going opposite directions in the US, and the Ohio market favors American whiskey. We also like to push the occasional Armagnac or Cognac night, and those always sell out.

Working together, my friends Mr. NO and Secret Agent Man curated a Rye Blind night last Monday. Seven half-ounce drops of different American ryes, labelled A through G, were poured for the group. Six were between $20 and $35, and a seventh originally sold for nearly $200. No one, other than Mr. NO, knew which was which. Interestingly, one of those whiskies turned out to be the favorite for 70% of the group.

I didn't take part in the tasting, and I wasn't much help in my edutainment role, because I was exhausted from the day. Also, as I've referenced in previous posts, my alcohol tolerance isn't what it used to be. So I took the samples home.

What to do with those seven samples? Manhattan Night for me! Seven mini Manhattan cocktails with identical recipes would be matched side by side. Part of me hoped that they would not all be awesome so I could spill a few out and not have a bad evening. Also I didn't want to be tempted to buy seven bottles of rye.

The recipe was simple: 2:1 ratio of rye to Carpano Antica, two dashes of Angostura bitters, two drops of Luxardo cherry syrup. These were the tools:

As a wiser, balder man than I once said, in the future: Engage.

The Manhattans

Manhattan from Rye A - Stellar balance of peppery spice, fruit and sugar. Would buy!
Rating: ★★★★ (out of five)

Manhattan from Rye B - Flat. Bland, yet harsh. It tastes plastic-bottle-whiskey cheap.
Rating: ★½

Manhattan from Rye C - Some really good heft to it. Spice leads the way. Probably the best finish.
Rating: ★★★½

Manhattan from Rye D - Well, it's different than the rest. Nuts, metal, flowers, a cherry lollipop too. Weird overall.
Rating: ★★½

Manhattan from Rye E - Clean, but light. Lowest ABV of the bunch? A little bit of spice and a slight vegetal note.
Rating: ★★½

Manhattan from Rye F - Also a bit strange as it has a strong cologne note. Balance is otherwise decent enough.
Rating: ★★½

Manhattan from Rye G - Easy drinking, right-down-the-middle balance. This would be a great Manhattan rye for a restaurant or bar.
Rating: ★★★

Okay. Ready for the reveal?

. . . . .

. . . . .

Ranked Reveal! With Notes!

#1 - Rye A - ★★★★ - Elijah Craig Rye, 47%abv, $33 in Ohio.
Yes! My bottle of this stuff has already been consumed, but I saved a sample so I owe the world a post about it. 

#2 - Rye C - ★★★½ - Kentucky Owl 11 year old ye, batch 1, 55.3%abv, was $189
This was the clear winner during the event, when people sipped their ryes neatly. I can confirm its bottle smelled good. Also, I'm somewhat relieved that it didn't place first during my tasting because its secondary market price is brutal.

#3 - Rye G - ★★★ - Rittenhouse BIB, 50%abv, $27
Thank goodness Ritt BIB still works. My last couple of bottles were subpar, but that was a half decade ago. As I said in my notes, this would be a great Manhattan rye for a restaurant or bar.

#4 - Rye D - ★★½ - Wild Turkey 101 Rye, 50.5%abv, $25
I expected this to rate higher as it's always been a go-to for my cabinet. Not sure what caused the odd notes.

#5 - Rye F - ★★½ - Old Forester Rye, 50%abv, $23
Another one I'd expected to rate higher, as I've been championing it since I first tried it. There's an unopened bottle in my cabinet. It'll be the next rye I open.

#6 - Rye E - ★★½ - Sazerac Rye, 45%abv, $30
I've never been the biggest fan of baby Saz. It works but doesn't thrill, especially for actual Sazerac cocktails. And I sorta guessed the ABV situation correctly.

#7 - Rye B - ★½ - George Dickel Rye, 45%abv, $22
The most filtered of the bunch, Dickel stood out from the group, and not in a good way, or even an acceptable way. I was probably generous in my rating. It was like I'd made my cocktail with Kessler or Fleischman's Preferred. Mr. NO said, "That Dickel is just garbage."

Final Thoughts, in list form

  • This was a sticky mess. That's how you get ants.
  • I dumped half of D, F, E and B, partially for safety (D, F, E), partially for bleh (B).
  • Dickel Fail
  • I'm looking forward to my next bottle of Elijah Craig rye, and will give Rittenhouse another chance.
  • WT101 and Old Forester require further study.
  • Congrats to everyone who picked up a bottle of Kentucky Owl rye, batch 1, when it first came out. I hope you drank it!
  • Thank you to Mr. NO and Secret Agent Man for curating this tasting!

1 comment:

  1. Fascinating! I would have also expected Old Forester to perform better. It is one of my favorite, cheaper Ryes. I purchased two bottles of the Kentucky Owl Batch 1 and drank one (delicious - my favorite Rye in a long time) and am saving the other one to open for a special occasion. Cheers!