Tag Archives: Rye

Smooth Ambler – Old Scout Rye


Smooth Ambler - Old Scout Rye Taste ProfileStats – 49.5% alcohol, 95% rye mashbill, aged at least 7 years, Maxwelton, WV
Price – $40
Color – Brown and red amber
Nose – Floral and spicy
Palate – Craft distilleries often have to find ways to bridge-the-gap of production to profit. This is particularly tough for those making whiskey since it has to sit in a barrel for at least 2 years before it can be bottled and sold. Rather than sitting on their hands and waiting it out, most distillers make gin and vodka (which can be sold immediately after distillation) to carry the company along until its whiskey matures. Another popular option is to buy market-ready whiskey and bottling in house. The “Old Scout” moniker over at the Smooth Ambler Distillery is in reference to their independent bottling of whiskey they’ve scouted and sourced from other distilleries. Smooth Ambler Old Scout Rye is rich and sweet like a buttery caramel. A good, yet subtle, spice starts to warm this up with cinnamon apples with a touch of clove. A hint of fruity black cherries hangs just out of reach in the background. The finish has some dry oak and a licorice and aniseed spice with just the faintest amount of fresh peppermint at the tail-end. While it spicy like you would expect from a rye, it still has a good dose of rich brown sugar sweetness. Even though this is adopted from other producers, you can taste the pedigree of quality and care in producing this rye.

Smooth Ambler – Old Scout Rye Tastes Like:

  1. Sazerac Straight Rye (91%)
  2. FEW Rye (85%)
  3. Hudson Manhattan Rye (85%)

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Copper Fox Rye


Copper Fox Rye Taste ProfileStats – 45% alcohol, 2/3 rye and 1/3 barley, Sperryville, VA
Price – $45
Color – Deep and bright brown
Nose – Strong spicy rye, oak, cinnamon, and cardamon
Palate – Some may argue that constraints drive innovation. Having fewer options forces you to be creative and find new solutions. Craft whiskey makers have found that the constraint of only using fresh white oak barrels to age their whiskey has forced some new thinking in the last couple of decades. Some transfer their whiskey into secondary barrels (like ones previously used to age wine or rum) to finish aging. Copper Fox instead decided to add apple wood and oak chips into the main barrel. Changing the type of wood used alters the flavors contributed and increasing the area of wood in contact with the rye speeds up how quickly it ages (read more on the science of barreling whiskey on Scientific American). They claim “Sometimes older is better, sometimes it’s not.”

Using local Virginia grains this rye has a mashbill of 2/3 rye and 1/3 malted barley which are dried with apple and cherry wood smoke (rather than the traditional peat smoke). Grainy and oaky with lots of complex spices running through cloves, cinnamon and other baking spices. There’s also some green apple and young pears at the mid-body. The finish is very dry, almost musty, with oak, leather, and a bitter tobacco – the aforementioned wood chips in the barrel are the likely culprit here. Also, the rich ashy quality of hard wood smoking gets lots in the shuffle somewhere. While this one is not quite bold, it is no wallflower either.

Copper Fox Rye Taste Like:

  1. Old Potrero Rye – 18th Century Whiskey (85%)
  2. Redemption Rye (85%)
  3. Templeton Rye (84%)

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Old Potrero – 18th Century Whiskey


Old Potrero - 18th Century Whiskey Taste Profile

Stats – 51.2% alcohol, 100% rye, aged for 2.5 years, San Francisco, CA
Price – $70
Color – Light amber
Nose – Pine, menthol, and astringent
Palate – This whiskey was producing by Anchor Distilling (the same Anchor behind the excellent Steam Beer) and following traditional production techniques and a small copper pot still. This one is spicy! Not too surprising considering the all rye mashbill, but it also has minty quality to it. The finish is slightly bitter and a bit yeasty. Considering the price, I think this one doesn’t stand out a whole lot for me. While the experimentation and effort is something to be respected, I feel like Anchor’s real talents lie in the beer world.

Alternatives:

  1. Redbreast 12 Year (83%)
  2. Cardhu 12 Year (79%)
  3. Bowman Brothers – Small Batch (79%)


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Journeyman Ravenswood Rye


Journeyman Ravenswood Rye Taste Profile

Stats – 45% alcohol, Three Oaks, MI
Price – $48
Color – Rich amber
Nose – Sweet and spicy rye grain
Palate – Named after the neighborhood in Chicago which houses the massively influential Koval distillery where Journeyman’s distiller was trained in 2010. Very rich and smooth and not overly spicy like most ryes making this a perfect entry for the bourbon fan.  Lots of character here, nice warm cinnamon notes and spicy licorice, but well handled and perfectly complex, almost unbelievably rich.  This is one of the best ryes on the market, do yourself a favor and seek this microdistillery‘s stuff out!
Alternatives:

  1. FEW Rye (86%)
  2. Hudson Manhattan Rye (82%)
  3. FEW Bourbon (79%)

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FEW Rye


FEW Rye Taste Profile
Stats – 46.5% alcohol, Evanston, IL
Price – $65
Color – Reddish amber
Nose – Spicy and fiery
Palate – A distillery opening in the early haven of the temperance movement is big news, and even better news is that FEW is incredibly talented.  A good dose of cinnamon and spice in this rye.  It’s still a little sweet and surprisingly rich.  The richness builds all the way through this drink while the heat fades for a pleasingly sweet finish.  One of the best ryes on the market, track this one down if you like your rye tame and civilized.

Alternatives:

  1. Hudson Manhattan Rye (88%)
  2. Journeyman Ravenswood Rye (86%)
  3. Sazerac Straight Rye (85%)

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