...where distraction is the main attraction.

Friday, February 15, 2013

NOT Single Malt Report: Jefferson's 10 year old Straight Rye

I love rye.  It's now one of my Big Three:  Irish Single Pot Still Whiskey, Single Malt Scotch Whisky, and Straight Rye Whiskey.  Rye's bold spicy wallop wins me over every single time.  If it can get me to say "Wow!" after a sip -- as Willett has done time after time (but we'll save the Willett slobbering for previous and future reports) -- then I'm enticed to track down a full bottle.

As Jefferson's 10yr Rye has the rare 100% rye mashbill, I so desired to just buy a whole bottle blindly (though I didn't).  It was one of those whiskies that I wanted to love.  Recent Eats, Coopered Tot, Chemistry of the Cocktail, and Scotch & Ice Cream all liked it.  That's plenty good enough for me.

Distillery: possibly Alberta Springs Distillery
OwnershipMcClain & Kyne (via Castle Brands)
Type: Canadian Straight Rye Whisky
Region: Alberta, Canada (possibly)
Age: minimum 10 years
Mashbill: 100% rye (along with a proprietary fungus that helps keep the mash from getting sticky)
Maturation: charred white oak barrels
Alcohol by Volume: 47%

[As you'll note above, this is actually Canadian Rye, bottled by McClain & Kyne, an American company.  Curiously, the company refers to the juice as "North American" rather than Canadian.  Come on guys, Canada is cool too!]

There's a little more background to this report.  In the comments section of the Recent Eats and Chemistry of the Cocktail posts about Jefferson's, I noticed that Florin (of whom I am a fan) felt quite differently about the rye.  When I had a chance to meet Florin a few months back, he shared some of his Jefferson's with me.  And I immediately found the issue.

It smelled and tasted like nail polish remover, as if the spirit hadn't aged a day, let alone 10 years, in new oak.  It was very odd.  When we did some whisky trading, I still opted for a sample of it.  Further studies were required.

Three months later (about seven total months in the sample bottle) the rye was released into my Glencairn glass.  The acetone/polish/vinyl note sprung forth immediately.  So I decided to let it sit and sit and sit...

Forty-five minutes later:

The color was of a rosy maple syrup.  The nail polish remover (or distillate, to be polite) had vanished from the nose.  It was now much oakier.  Tons of vanilla.  Puffs of peppermint and menthol, followed by molasses and cooked mushrooms.  The texture was very thin, watery.  The palate was less spirity than before.  Lots of dark chocolate and cherry kirsch.  Something very vegetal rumbled along, perhaps this is the herbal note others have found?  Burnt sugar, cherry cordials, and a hint of citrus.  Any spicy rye zing was at a minimum.  The kirsch continued in the finish, but then there was a consistent salad note.  Seriously, salad.  Think lettuces and bitter greens.  That was met by caramel sauce and dulce di leche.  More bitterness followed with time.

So, time helped.  To a point.  I'm going to assume/hope there was some significant batch variation going on here as the characteristics seem to be from a completely different booze than what I've read about on other blogs.  Or maybe this shade of rye is not for me?  I can see its appeal.  I'd take this over Old Overholt and Jim Beam Rye any day.  And its price is right, at half the $$$ of WhistlePig, another 10-year 100% Canadian rye (and perhaps from the same source).

In the next report, I'll cover a whiskey that I had side-by-side with Jefferson's just to make sure my rye sensors were working...

Availability - Most liquor specialists
Pricing - $35-$40
Rating - 78 (without the 45 min wait, the rating would have been much lower)