Restoration Kentucky Rye Whiskey

Restoration Kentucky Rye Whiskey
2020 Batch 2

49.5% ABV
Restoration Rye Whiskey

What the Distillery Says

The release of Castle & Key’s first whiskey
Whiskey takes time. We started this journey in 2014, barreling our first product in 2016. In 2020, we feel it’s ready to share.

Each batch of our Restoration Rye Whiskey is blended using a series of pods. Each pod is created by grouping barrels to create a specific sensory profile.

Size: 57 Barrels

17% Yellow Corn
63% Rye
20% Malted Barley

Aroma: Bright, Lemon Peel, Toasted Oak, Apricot, Wild Flower, Honey, Graham Cracker
Taste: Pie Crust, Honeysuckle, Mint, Agave Nectar, Dry Cinnamon, Light Stone Fruit
Finish: Cooling, Spearmint with light mouth numbing

What Gary Says

Nose:  Intense mint, dill, orange and lemon zest, bit of anise, tarragon, malt, hints of candied tropical fruit (maybe pineapple).
Palate:  Honey, citrus spice with cinnamon, mint, corn syrup and pepper.
Finish:  Short to moderate in length with minty sweetness and pepper.
Comments:  First thing that caught my eye as a whisk(e)y geek was the absence of ‘straight’ on the label. I scratched my head and pondered what the implications were (as the possibilities didn’t seem to align with what I would expect). I reached out to Castle & Key to ask if they could shed any light, and they responded that there “…is no particular reason as to why the label does not say ‘Straight Rye Whiskey’. In fact, future labels will be changed to designate it as a ‘Straight Rye Whiskey'”. Was glad to hear that (as it implies this qualifies in every way), and glad they will update future labels. But I digress – the whiskey itself definitely stands-out as unique, with some herbal spice notes on the nose to go with the minty/dill that rye fans such as myself enjoy. The higher malted barley content I’m sure is a big contributor to that, and I can’t wait to see some more mature rye coming out of Castle & Key. If you ever have a chance to tour their facility – do it. Had the pleasure of visiting the site in April 2017 before it was open to the public and they were still working on the restoration itself, then again in April 2019 (when it was open to the public). What a difference two years made! If you love whiskey history, or just really cool picturesque surroundings – check it out.

Rating: Stands Out

R6 Distillery Single Malt Whiskey

R6 Distillery Single Malt Whiskey

43% ABV
R6 Distillery Single Malt Whiskey
We would like to thank R6 Distillery and Power Digital Marketing for sending us a sample to review.

What the Distillery Says

100% malted grain from a single distillery, this whisky incorporates a European style grain bill with an R6 twist: peated malt, distiller’s malt, chocolate malt, and coffee malt.

Never Chill Filtered

Nose: Smoked Coffee and Chocolate
Palate: Smoky and Slightly Sweet with Subtle Undertones
Finish: Warm, Dark Coffee

What Gary Says

Nose:  Young honeyed malt, light roast coffee, toffee, cedar and bit of milk chocolate.
Palate:  Milk chocolate and toffee with pepper spice, smoke and a slightly sour oak note.
Finish:  Short to moderate in length, drying with cocoa and oak.
Comments:  So while there isn’t anything objectionable, this tastes like young whiskey aged in smaller casks. If you’re a fan of craft whiskey done in this way, this may be right up your alley. It does have some interesting chocolate notes, and I appreciate the non-chill filtration. With age (and moving to full-sized casks), the grain bill has potential to be really interesting and different. The price point is steep if you’re looking to buy just to drink rather than buy to support a small business.

Rating: Average

Elijah Craig Toasted Barrel Bourbon

Elijah Craig Toasted Barrel
Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

47% ABV
Elijah Craig Toasted Barrel Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

What the Distillery Says

Twice barreled for added complexity, Toasted Barrel takes our award-winning Small Batch Bourbon to new heights. After it’s fully matured, we finish this Bourbon in a second, custom toasted new oak barrel, where it’s left to develop even more sweet oak flavor.

Toasted Barrel relies on a custom finishing process that adds an extra layer of sweet oak complexity to our Bourbon. Learn more about how these second barrels are treated by watching the video on our website.

Aromas and flavors of pekoe tea, new leather, cinnamon, cedar, and jasmine. Warm and comforting notes of peach preserves and brown sugar erupt with a chipotle spice. Deeply layered and profound.

COLOR: Roasted pecans
AROMA: Lots of toasted oak with rich caramel
TASTE: Big, rich, and complex. Delightful spice and pepper notes fade to milk chocolate with just a hint of smoke
FINISH: Complexity continues. Nicely warming, with lingering chocolate and baking spices

What Gary Says

Nose:  Caramel, toasted marshmallow, oak, cedar, bit of leather, crème brûlée, black currents, hint of mint.
Palate:  Caramel and vanilla, cinnamon, chocolate, musty oak, nutmeg and pepper.
Finish:  Moderately long, drying with oak, chocolate, pepper and mint.
Comments:  A nice addition to the Elijah Craig family – I rather enjoy it! Brings a nice uniqueness, and with a bit of water – brings out more mint than I get in the standard bearer. Fans of the Elijah Craigh lineup may appreciate the subtle difference, but I must admit I’m not as much a fan at the price point (almost twice the price of Elijah Craig Small Batch).

Rating: Stands Out

Elijah Craig Small Batch

Elijah Craig Small Batch
Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

47% ABV
Elijah Craig Small Batch Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

What the Distillery Says

The award-winning Bourbon that started it all. Our signature Small Batch owes its distinctive warm spice & subtle smoke flavor to Level 3 charred oak barrels. Handcrafted by our Master Distillers, it’s a favorite of Bourbon connoisseurs and casual whiskey fans alike.

Elijah Craig was the first to char oak barrels, which earned him the name, “The Father of Bourbon.” Today, all Elijah Craig Bourbons are aged in Level 3 charred new oak barrels. This level of char releases flavor compounds & aromas such as caramelized sugars, vanillin, wood smoke & spice. Our Master Distillers then hand-select each barrel to create our signature, award-winning Small Batch Bourbon.

COLOR: Burnished copper
AROMA: Delightfully complex with notes of vanilla bean, sweet fruit, and fresh mint
TASTE: Smooth and warm; pleasantly woody with accents of spice, smoke, and nutmeg
FINISH: Long, sweet, and slightly toasty

What Gary Says

Nose:  Caramel corn, vanilla wafers, musty oak, subtle spice notes of mint and cinnamon.
Palate:  Vanilla, honey, caramel, nutmeg, brown sugar, hint of clove, cinnamon, oak and pepper.
Finish:  Moderate in length, drying with vanilla, nutmeg, oak and mint.
Comments:  I wish I had a retail bottling (still) of the 12 yr age stated version for a blind side-by-side comparison, but there’s more than one saying about wishing. This definitely strikes me as similar to what I recall, maybe a touch less oak which I don’t mind. The caramel corn note isn’t meant to imply it is young, as ‘corn’ is one of those notes that you get with younger bourbon – just the type of caramel (what can I say – when I nosed it, first thing that came to mind was caramel corn!) I know folks hate the loss of the age statement – and I’m in that club as well (hell, if they had to come out with a new version and just said it was a 9 or 10 yr, I’d rather see that than the complete removal). But for the money, this is still a pretty solid bourbon.

Rating: Stands Out

Duncan Taylor ‘Dimensions’ Highland Park 20 Year Single Malt Scotch Whisky

Duncan Taylor ‘Dimensions’ Highland Park 20 Year
Single Malt Scotch Whisky

53% ABV
Duncan Taylor Dimensions Highland Park 20 Yr

What the Bottler Says

Bottled at cask strength of 53% ABV and without chill-filtration or artificial colouring, this single malt has matured beautifully as a result of 20 years in an ex-sherry butt. The traditionally lightly-peated notes of Highland Park are still present, however they have softened over time and have been complimented with a hint of salt and notes of mixed fruit, baked apples and honey from the sherry cask.

What Gary Says

Nose:  Peat fire with salted sea mist, fruity with cherries, peaches, raisins, vanilla, chocolate with cedar-smoked pork roast.
Palate:  Rich mouthfeel with honey, apples, cherries, pepper, chocolate, toffee, walnuts and peat.
Finish:  Long and damp with fruity peat notes.
Comments:  A rather nice Highland Park bottling. Before researching the bottle details, I would not have pegged this as being fully matured in sherry (first the color isn’t what you’d expect for that age in sherry), so guessing it is a second or maybe third fill sherry (as they have a lot of sherry casks around Highland Park). Which isn’t a bad thing by any stretch – since the retail Highland Park gives you that big sherry take on their distillate. A nice balance that lets the distillery’s character shine through while giving you some of those luscious fruit notes from the sherry.

Rating: Stands Out