Tuesday, December 29, 2015

A couple of young ryes

When I was just a few years out of college, I heard someone speak a word of wisdom that has remained with me to this day, one of those common sense observations that puts into words what we all inchoately feel:
This business of work really shoots a hole in one's day.
I feel this most keenly when I'm taking a few days off around Christmas. There is no way I could be simultaneously working and dropping by a bar for a quick one with a beer back. (Yes, there are jobs that  involve dropping by bars for quick ones with beers back. I have chosen a different road.)

All of which is introductory padding for brief comments about two young ryes I've ordered before 5 pm this past week.

Mississippi River Distilling's Cody Road Rye Whiskey has a 100% rye mash and is distilled, they say, "very cleanly so you can experience a sweet fruitiness that is unexpected from rye." This makes me curious about whether they planned that sweet fruitiness from the start or just wound up distilling it that way and decided to claim success. Either way, they have produced a spice-rearward rye, with an emphasis on the sweetness grain spirits can have. There's citrus peel on the nose, for what that's worth, since I didn't notice it carry forward into the taste. It does smell and taste young -- not in a raw or new spirity way; but like a finished product in a distinct category of, call it "Young Rye Whiskey." It's not bad, but it's not a style I'm looking for when I order rye.

On the other hand, the glass of Few Spirits' Rye Whiskey I had did taste like an underdone rye. My first thought after my first sip was, "This needs more time in the barrel." There was good rye flavor, but it was mixed with a lot of unpleasant grain spirityness. My guess is this could mix successfully, given a recipe that emphasizes the rye and hides the rawness, but neat it was bad stuff.

Which leads me to wonder about ordering new and young whiskeys from microdistilleries. I don't know what sort of variability there is from batch to batch, nor which batch any particular bar might have at any particular time. That Few rye tasted like an early attempt, in a way I don't remember Few bourbon tasting, so it may be what they're bottling today is much better. It may be, but I won't be spending money to find out.

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