Category Archives: Other Whisk(e)ys

Jack Daniel’s Rye

Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Straight Rye Whiskey
45% ABV

What the Distillery Says
Introducing rye whiskey made Jack’s way. Crafted with our 70-percent rye grain bill, natural spring water from our own Cave Spring Hollow, and Jack’s time-honored charcoal mellowing process, Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Rye is a whiskey that could only come from Lynchburg, Tennessee. Master Distiller Jeff Arnett and the whiskey makers of the Jack Daniel Distillery have created a unique rye that’s undeniably spicy and complex yet sippin’ smooth. It might be one of our first new recipes in over 150-years, but if you know Jack, you’ll know Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Rye.


What Gary Says

What Richard Says
Nose: Upon first pour a spicy, slightly musty acetone note is predominant. A little more air time and more minty and peppery smells peek through with hint of banana liqueur and vanilla. Water opens the nose up to a delicious banana cream pie.
Palate: Nice kick. You can definitely tell it’s made by Mr. Arnett in Lynchburg but with a solid rye twang. Black and white pepper, warm rye bread, and grassy with a light banana bread sweetness.
Finish: It lingers with a black pepper dusting around the sides of the tongue and back of the mouth.
Comments: Certain distilleries have a relatively consistent note that rings true throughout nearly all of their products. At George Dickel it’s a chewable kids vitamin kind of thing. At Jim Beam there is a peanut like funk to their products. At Jack Daniels it is bananas. I’m not a chemist or olfactory scientist to know what causes that but I think that since I also find it distinctively in their Rye that it must me the yeast they use in the mash. I think the charcoal mellowing actually brings it forward more as it filters out other things. This rye makes me happy. It’s not a “HOLY SHIT” rye or anything. But it is a solid new product from a long established distiller at a reasonable price. I would happily keep Jack Daniel’s rye in my house for cocktails and the occasional sip. It’s not a deep contemplative rye. It’s just solid. And in a sea of MGP rye rebottlings from “craft” producers it’s nice to have another sub $30 rye option that tastes different. Add it to the stable with Rittenhouse, Wild Turkey Rye, and Jim Beam Rye. Kudos Brown Forman. You did this one right!
Rating: Stands Out

We would like to thank Jack Daniel’s for sending us a sample to review.

Basil Hayden’s Rye

Basil Hayden’s Rye Whiskey
40% ABV

What the Distillery Says
To produce this very special batch of Basil Hayden’s Rye we employed a long known but rarely used “re-barreling” technique.

We start by aging a traditional rye four years, then transfer it to newly charred quarter cask barrels to age an additional seven years. The smaller barrels create more contact with the oak and allows more air to breathe into the cask. The result is an incredibly deep flavor.

It’s not easy or quick, but blending just a small amount of this “re-barreled” liquid into our Rye Whiskey amplifies its natural characteristics and creates a profile that shines in any serve. Find a few friends and try it for yourself. Then be sure to let us know what you think.

AROMA Warm baking spices, caramel, hints of wood and rye spice
TASTE Charred oak complimented by sweet brown sugar, touch of black pepper and dried fruit
FINISH Smoke and char notes wrapped in caramel

What Gary Says
Nose: Soft lemongrass with muted fruit and spice; bright along with some vegetal notes I can’t quite nail down; hint of pickles. All quite subtle – nothing aggressive about this nose.
Palate: Sweet entry that builds to an edge – but never quite sharp; slight spice kick near the end; crème brulee w/ orange zest toasted on top, hints of cinnamon, nutmeg, lemon and clove.
Finish: Moderately long and lingering, with pepper notes as it trails off.
Comments: Stop me if you’ve heard this one before . . . “Nice, but I wish it were higher proof . . . “ I’ll work on a different way to say that, but it holds true here. This is incredibly drinkable right from the bottle (and I was surprised that a couple drops of water opened it up further). It is softer and more refined than most rye, which makes it interesting in my book. While nothing off about this dram, it lacks anything that inspires me enough to go buy one. Basil Hayden has always been an oddity to me, as it is uncharacteristically soft in my opinion for a high-rye bourbon. This very much fits the brand profile. If you’re a big Basil Hayden bourbon fan, this might be right up your alley. If you’ve found Basil Hayden bourbon to be “too refined/smooth/soft” and are a rye whiskey fan – I’d definitely try this before buying a bottle.
Rating: Stands Out

What Richard Says
Nose: A very delicate fruitiness and orange blossom honey peek around the corners but the nose is almost not there.
Palate: More of a honey sweetness with a pinch of cinnamon but overall it is extremely bland.
Finish: The finish has just a bit peppery spice kicking in.
Comments: I can’t say that this impressed me. For a rye, especially a $50 rye, it is very uninspiring. As Gary said, fans of Basil Hayden’s Bourbon might like it but I can’t really recommend it to the masses.
Rating: Average

We would like to thank Jim Beam for sending us a sample to review.

James E. Pepper Barrel Proof Rye

James E. Pepper 1776 Straight Rye Barrel Proof
57.3% ABV

What the Bottler Says
* 114.6 Proof – Not Chill-Filtered – Over 90% Rye in the Mash Bill
* Full Flavored; deep notes of mint, spice, cloves, eucalyptus, chocolate, & honey
* The same exact whiskey as in the standard award winning 100 proof version, only straight from the barrel

What Gary Says
Nose: Hit of alcohol, sharp, bright, crisp, brash; unmistakably young rye with notes of citrus (lemon, orange; a hint of pineapple) and pickle juice.
Palate: Sharp entry, fresh orange zest and pepper spice, subtle sweetness with a hint of caramel.
Finish: Short and drying, with pepper notes lingering.
Comments: I was/am a fan of the James E. Pepper Straight Rye offering, which is this same whiskey but at 100 proof (and $10 or more less a bottle). For the extra dough, this adds 14 proof points – which normally I would celebrate, but I was underwhelmed. As a no-age-statement straight rye, I assume it is at least 2 yrs old, and likely not many days beyond that. I try to align my expectations accordingly, and wasn’t expecting complexity. I did find that with some water, I enjoyed this more – which left me thinking “Why not just by the 100 proof offering?” The water tamps down the rough edges a bit and lets the sweetness shine through on the palate, and the pickle juice become more prominent on the nose. Nothing off-putting about this for me, but nothing motivating me to buy another bottle either. If you’ve never had either of their ryes, I’d recommend trying the 100 proof bottling first – and only if you’re really happy with that, look to give this a spin.
Rating: Average

What Richard Says
Nose: Lemon zest, orange peel, grassy, and a bit of vanilla.
Palate: Orange blossom honey, vanilla cream, and a big blast of spearmint.
Finish: The mint lingers a bit but everything else is gone quick leaving a mildly unpleasant bitterness.
Comments: Meh. There is really nothing about this rye that makes it stand out. It’s not bad but it’s pretty plain. Try this at a bar if you are interested but I would grab a bottle of Rittenhouse bottled in bond for ten bucks less.
Rating: Average

Traverse City American Cherry

Traverse City American Cherry Edition
35% ABV

What the Distiller Says

When you live in the “Cherry Capital of the World” and come from a multi-generational cherry farming family, a cherry whiskey is a bit of a must. Our American Cherry Edition is different than most cherry whiskies on the market today and is steeped with Montmorency cherries grown on our family’s farm. We like to say that its flavor profile resembles “whiskey with a hint of cherry, not the other way around.”

What Gary Says
Nose: Cherry cough medicine.
Palate: Less heavy cherry than the nose, but still a LOT of cherry; barely “whiskey” essence.
Finish: Short and sweet.
Comments: I’m not a huge fan of flavored whiskey, but this one to me is less a flavored whiskey, then a cherry liqueur with a hint of whiskey. The cherry is really overpowering. If you like cherry, this might be a great thing. If you’re looking for whiskey with some cherry – I’d recommend checking elsewhere.
Rating: Probably Pass

What Richard Says
Nose: A mix of Luden’s cough drops and cherry flavor Popsicles.
Palate: All cherry. Cherry Fanta maybe.
Finish: Basically not even there.
Comments: I agree with Gary. This really seems like more of a liqueur instead of flavored whiskey. I don’t think I would drink this straight but maybe as a substitute for cherry herring or Luxardo liqueur in your favorite cocktail.
Rating: Probably Pass

We would like to thank Traverse City Whiskey Co. for sending us a bottle for review.

Stolen Whiskey

Stolen Whiskey Aged 11 Years
46% ABV

What the Bottler Says
STOLEN American Whiskey begins with a mature 11-year-old whiskey. Ever insatiable, STOLEN tapped into industry experts by adding a layer of artistry rooted in extracting staves from ex-whiskey barrels and toasting them in a 360-degree rotation over an oak wood fire. Turning the staves at key points during the toast allowed STOLEN to capture richly nuanced flavors across the entire wood gradient, resulting in a smoky consistency for every barrel stave.

To impart these fire roasted notes into the whiskey, STOLEN employs a secondary, barrel-finishing process where “the juice” is continually analyzed for taste and nosed for aroma until it peaks in boldness resulting in an additional layer of finished flavor complexity that differentiates STOLEN Whiskey from other traditional American whiskies and bourbons. On the nose is a roasted coffee bouquet that enhances dark fruits and lingers through an exceptionally long finish. On the palate, natural flavors of toasted caramel, dark molasses and smoky chocolate mingle. STOLEN Whiskey’s initial buttery mouthfeel ultimately balances out a bold and lasting finish. For a list of recipes, check out our Cocktails.

What Gary Says
Nose: Oak, smoke, char, burnt sugar, alcohol, solvent, tobacco.
Palate: Smoke, oak, subtle sweet brown sugar.
Finish: Moderate in length, drying and peppery.
Comments: Important to note that this isn’t bourbon (so don’t expect that). It isn’t labeled as “straight whiskey” either, despite having an age statement beyond 2 yrs (which could mean a few things, but likely that there are additives). Nothing wrong with all that (Early Times is an example of non-straight whiskey), but it should be clear to align expectations. This isn’t in my wheelhouse. Smoke and oak, and not much else. The nose had a tinge of solvent or cleaner that I didn’t care for, which thankfully wasn’t on the palate. I expect less in terms of flavor and complexity from ‘just whiskey’, and this fell into that squarely – although I think the 11 yr age statement set me up to expect more than I got. Just too one dimensional for me (even at a heck of a lot less money).
Rating: Pass