With the recent resurgence of Bourbon, America’s signature whiskey, Rye whiskey has also experienced a major resurgence. This year’s sixth release of the Woodford Reserve Master’s Collection begins arriving in stores this week. It includes dual 375ml bottles – one that has been matured in a new charred cask and one matured in an aged cask. Both are from a 100% rye recipe but the difference in the final product is the manner of maturation.
Tasting Notes for Woodford Reserve New Cask Rye
Color: Golden brown.
Aroma: Cinnamon and delicate mint spice sweetened with a balance of oak aromatics, tobacco leaf, honey vanilla, caramel and ripe apple fruit.
Taste: A creamy balance of new cask sweetness with spiced apple and rich berry fruitiness.
Finish: Smooth with rich fruit and warming spice hints.
Tasting Notes for Woodford Reserve Aged Cask Rye
Color: Light straw.
Aroma: Grassy rye grain with hints or citrus, vanilla and spice.
Taste: Distinct soft fresh rye and malt grain dusted with vanilla and sweet oak character.
Finish: Fresh and clean with caramelized green apple crispiness and a hint of rye.
Last year we did a story on “How Whiskey Made America” and discussed George Washington and his very successful whiskey distillery. Washington’s distillery was one of the first and most profitable in the country as well, his plantation was one of the most profitable in the country. Washington made whiskey and liquor out of the grains on his farm and the liquor was the most profitable piece of his business empire. Washington couldn’t actually make enough whiskey to supply the demand. Now, there is a limited edition rye whiskey made to the exact specifications to the recipe of George Washington, 60% rye, 35% corn, and 5% malt and barley. The George Washington Straight Rye is being made on George Washington’s plantation and there is only 300 bottles available $185 a piece. The 2 year old Rye Whiskey is sharp, delicious, sweet and drinkable. Editors note: Washington did use slaves to make the whiskey, so the history isn’t as charming as one would think. Washington was a “man of his times.” You can listen to the NPR segment on the George Washington Rye Whiskey here.
Rye was America’s first whiskey and Mitcher’s, founded in 1753, is known for their classic rye style and being a the pioneer of American whiskey. Made with hand selected sheared rye, Mitcher’s US1 Rye enables more saturation of the grain during fermentation. Aged in a heated warehouse in a single barrel, the Mitcher’s US1 Straight Rye Whiskey is then bottled at 84.4 proof.
Mitcher’s US1 Rye Tasting Notes:
The US1 rye is smooth, sweet and complex. It’s a lovely whiskey with a syrupy mouth feel complex finish, this is an exceptionally smooth beautiful god damn whiskey. Recommended for all rye whiskey lovers.
The History of Mitcher’s Whiskey
The rich history surrounding Michter’s harkens back to America’s first distilling company established in the 1700′s by John Shenk, a Swiss Mennonite farmer who settled his family in Pennsylvania’s Blue Mountain Valley. With his farm producing an abundance of rye, in 1753 Shenk decided to build a small distillery to convert his excess rye to whiskey. In time, this little distillery with its hand-hammered stills would come to produce what would someday be known as the famous Michter’s whiskey.
This particular rye whiskey was so valued that when the Revolutionary War broke out, General George Washington purchased it to fortify his men as they hunkered down in their camp through the long, brutal winter at Valley Forge. Michter’s, as the saying goes, was “the whiskey that warmed the American Revolution,” and it continues to warm today’s resurgent American whiskey revolution.
The passage of Prohibition in 1919 forced Michter’s and every other American distillery to shut its doors to the public. Although the distillery did reopen after the 21st Amendment repealed Prohibition, Michter’s changed hands many times over the next few decades and languished to the point where it eventually declared bankruptcy. With primary distilling operations shut, there remained two small pot still systems made in the mid 1970′s by still maker Vendome which were reportedly used in part to instruct tourists about distillation and to make whiskey to be sold in the gift shop. After the bankruptcy one of these two still systems was purchased by David Beam, and the rest of the movable equipment was stripped and sold off from the former Pennsylvania distillery, parts of which eventually collapsed. The remaining whiskey stocks were sold off as well.
Teaming up with Michter’s President Joseph J. Magliocco in the 1990′s, Richard “Dick” Newman undertook to resurrect the brand in Kentucky. An American hero who served as a U.S. Marine during the Korean War, Newman lost one of his legs in a battle and was awarded a Purple Heart. After leaving the military, Newman began an illustrious career in the spirits business where he eventually ran Old Grandad, Old Crow, and Old Taylor for National Distillers before becoming President and CEO of Austin Nichols, the distiller of Wild Turkey.
A Yale College and Harvard Law School graduate, who in the 1980′s decided to pursue his passion for spirits as President of Chatham Imports and later on as President of Michter’s American Whiskey Co., Magliocco says, “When we set up our whiskey program for Michter’s, Dick and I wanted to get back to the ‘cost be damned’ roots and produce the finest whiskey possible. Our goal was to show that whiskey made in the United States could be the equal of great whiskey made anywhere in the world. At the start, when we would sit with industry executives and tell them that great rye whiskey would be an area of concentration for us, they would sit there dumbfounded and stare at us like we each had three heads. Fortunately, whiskey drinkers started to rediscover rye, and we were more right than wrong.
Michter’s Master Distiller Willie Pratt is a respected whiskey industry veteran with over forty years of distilling experience. He best explains the philosophy that has guided our product to such high critical acclaim since its move to Kentucky in the 1990’s. “The owners give me a free hand. I produce our product at a much higher cost because I barrel at lower proofs, and heat cycle our barrels with a much larger amount of whiskey lost than the typical “Angel’s Share.” But the whiskey comes out richer and smoother than if I made it the standard way. If a barrel is not at the exact right point of maturation and will benefit from more time, I won’t release it even if the sales guys and the distributors are screaming for more goods. That’s why they tease me and call me ‘Dr. No.’ ”
Michter’s production includes single barrel ryes, very small batch bourbons, single barrel bourbon, and unblended American whiskey.
The Los Angeles International Wine & Spirits Competition
Buffalo Trace Does it Again: The Los Angeles International Wine & Spirits Competition announced the winners from its recent 2011 competition held in late May and Buffalo Trace Distillery received 10 accolades for its whiskeys produced at its Frankfort, KY distillery. The award-winning entries were selected out of 154 spirits from 47 producers.
Buffalo Trace Distillery’s top winners include:
· Best of Category: Single Barrel American Whiskey 10 Years or Less
o Blanton’s Single Barrel Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
· Best of Category: Small Batch Bourbon 11 Years or Older
o Pappy Van Winkle 15 Year Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
· Best of Category: American Straight Rye
o Sazerac Straight Kentucky Rye Whiskey
Buffalo Trace Distillery’s whiskeys also won numerous medals, including:
· Gold Medal
o Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve 15 Year Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
o Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve 20 Year Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
o Sazerac Straight Rye Whiskey
o Eagle Rare Single Barrel Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
· Silver Medal
o Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
· Bronze Medal
o Buffalo Trace Distillery White Dog Mash #1
“I’m very proud of our team here that consistently produces whiskeys that win such esteemed awards as these,” said Master Distiller Harlen Wheatley.
About Buffalo Trace Distillery
Buffalo Trace Distillery is a family-owned company based in Frankfort, Franklin County, Kentucky. The distillery’s rich distilling tradition dates back to 1787 and includes such legends as E.H. Taylor, Jr., George T. Stagg, Albert B. Blanton, Orville Schupp, and Elmer T. Lee. Buffalo Trace Distillery is a fully operational distillery producing bourbon, rye whiskey and vodka on site and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Distillery has won seven distillery titles since 2000 from such notable publications as Whisky Magazine, Malt Advocate Magazine and Wine Enthusiast Magazine. It was named Whisky Magazine 2010 World Icons of Whisky “Whisky Visitor Attraction of the Year.” Buffalo Trace Distillery has also garnered more than 200 awards for its wide range of premium whiskies.
How the Sazerac Cocktail Came to Be In 1838, Antoine Amedie Peychaud, owner of a New Orleans apothecary, treated his friends to brandy toddies of his own recipe, including his “Peychaud’s Bitters,” made from a secret family recipe. The toddies were made using a double-ended egg cup as a measuring cup or jigger, then known as a “coquetier” (pronounced “ko-k-tay”), from which the word “cocktail” was derived.
Thus, the world’s first cocktail was born! By 1850, the Sazerac Cocktail, made with Sazerac French brandy and Peychaud’s Bitters, was immensely popular, and became the first “branded” cocktail. In 1873, the recipe for the Sazerac Cocktail was altered to replace the French brandy with American Rye whiskey, and a dash of absinthe was added. In 1933, the Sazerac Cocktail was bottled and marketed by the Sazerac Company of New Orleans.
That same year, “Herbsaint,” a pastis, was made according to a French recipe; “Herbsaint” was so named for the New Orleans term for wormwood – “Herb Sainte.” In 1940, the Official Sazerac Cocktail recipe was modified to use Herbsaint as the absinthe. Finally, in 2000, the Official Sazerac Cocktail recipe was modified to use Sazerac Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey.
From the Makers of the Classic Bulleit Bourbon, a Rye Whiskey Aged in Charred Oak Barrels
By Matt Goldstein
Bulleit Bourbon has now introduced a Rye Whiskey in honor of a 150 year family recipe. As the Bulleit Bourbon already has one of the highest Rye contents for a Bourbon, a pure Rye Whiskey is a natural progression. Bourbons are required to be made up of a majority of corn mash but Bulleit Rye will be a 95% Rye and 5% malted barley.
Bulleit Rye Tasting Notes:
The scent is sweet with grains and corn. The Bulleit Rye is full flavored, slightly sweet and syrupy. It’s a beautiful thick mouth feel with a sweet aftertaste with good warmth and full bodied. This is a god damn good whiskey. We absolutely recommend it.
The recipe for Bulleit Rye is as follows: Similar to the craftsmanship behind the original Bulleit Bourbon recipe created by Tom’s great-great grandfather Augustus Bulleit, it was of great importance that Bulleit Rye replicates the same high quality taste of its Bulleit Bourbon counterpart. The utmost care and precision is taken to produce Bulleit Rye, from selecting the highest quality rye grains, to sourcing our water from an ancient glacier aquifer that maintains a consistent temperature of 56 degrees. The liquid is then fully aged and matured in new charred oak barrels for a minimum of 4 years.
Buffalo Trace Double Gold Medals: Sazerac 18 Year Old Bourbon, Pappy Van Winkle 15 Year Old Kentucy Bourbon
The whiskeys from Buffalo Trace Distillery continue to win significant awards with the latest honors from the 2011 San Francisco World Spirits Competition (SFWSC), held in March. Buffalo Trace takes home 4 gold medals, 4 double gold medals, best bourbon and best in show. That’s a lot of gold! The whiskeys listed below are a must try. Top winners include:
· Best Rye; Best in Show Whiskey
Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey
. Best Bourbon
George T. Stagg Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
· Double Gold Medal
Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Straight Kentucky Rye Whiskey
George T. Stagg Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Sazerac 18 Year Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve 15 Year Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
· Gold Medal
Elmer T. Lee Single Barrel Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Eagle Rare 17 Year Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Sazerac Straight Rye Whiskey
William Larue Weller Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
A Prohibition Whiskey & Al Capone’s Whiskey of Choice
During prohibition when alcohol was banned, Templeton Rye grew in legend. Still made from the original recipe in charred new oak barrels, not only was Templeton Rye Al Capone’s whiskey of choice, it was a major piece of his bootlegging empire. In order to be called a rye, there needs to be a rye quantity of 51% in the sour mash. Templeton Rye however uses a 90% rye based mash and a 25% backset. Meaning, 25% of each mash is derived from the previous mash and so on. Each batch of rye whiskey is connected to the next.
The Templeton Rye Review and Flavor:
At first scent, the rye has a light bourbon hint with a deep scent of grain. The taste is a little sweet, but smooth with a good bite. The flavor of grain is a major statement with a rye and corn taste. Sometimes a dry and sour aftertaste, the is a all-around spicy finish. The Templeton Rye is full bodied, smooth, sweet, and the deep malt and grain grows on you with every sip. Templeton Rye just gets better and better each time we sip it. Wait, let me confirm. Yup!
How Whiskey Effects Us Every Day in Everything we Do: Part 1
By Matt Goldstein
After the Revolutionary war, America had a $75 million debt and U.S. treasurer Alexander Hamilton pressured President Washington to push the Whiskey Act through congress resulting in the first federal tax. After the first tax collectors used violence to collect their fees, an uprising erupted called the Whiskey Rebellion. Washington suited up, gathered an army bigger than the Continental Army that defeated the British, and squashed the Whiskey Rebellion. This was the only time in history that a sitting U.S. President led troops into battle.
George Washington, President, General, Businessman and Whiskey Distiller
The Whiskey Rebellion gave President George Washington a grand business idea. Whiskey Distilling! If people were so enraged to start a war over whiskey, it must be profitable right? After his presidency, Washington went onto operate one of the largest whiskey distilleries in the country. George Washington’s distillery was one of the first and most successful liquors businesses in the country and the also one of the most profitable plantations in the country.
Whiskey shipping was also the main revenue for the early railroad system.
Whiskey, Modern Science, Chemistry and the End of the Dark Ages
That’s right, whiskey making sparked modern chemistry, modern science and ended the Dark Ages. During the Dark Ages, Islamic Arabic scientists perfected distillation through the scientific method, and created whiskey. Whiskey making in the Islamic Arabic areas expanded to Europe and exploded. This whiskey distillation explosion advanced modern science and modern chemistry in Europe and ended the Dark Ages.
Whiskey Proof Terminology
The term proof was invented when English sailors would test how good the whiskey was by burning it over gun powder. If the flames went crazy then it was proven that the whiskey was good. If the flames fizzled out without much flash, then there was no proof of a good whiskey bottle.
English Monks and the Invention of Scotch whisky
When the Catholic Church refused to grant Henry the 8th a divorce from Catherin of Aragon in order to marry Anne Boleyn, the alcoholic Henry the 8th ended all ties with the church and exiled many monks and priests. These exiled Catholic Monks moved onto Scotland and began distilling whiskey for drinking. The monks then began to distill whiskey over a peat fire, thus inventing scotch.
The English Whiskey Tax and the Invention of Roads
A Whiskey tax by the English sparked a violent uprising in Scotland. Sound familiar? Of course, England then invaded Scotland. Because the land of Scotland was so difficult to navigate and move their army, the English began building roads to maneuver the troops. These roads were so successful that they spread to America and built the first road system in the United States. This style of road making then expanded throughout the world.
How Whiskey gave us Fossil Fuels, Industrial Empires and Saved the Whales
In the 1800’s, whales were being decimated for their blubber oil, which was an early source for fuel, heat and light for lamps. The largest mammal on earth was facing extinction as the demand for blubber oil grew and grew.
Around this time, salt mine owner Samuel Kier was getting extremely annoyed that this oily type substance kept leaking into his salt mine and ruining the salt. It was costing Kier and many salt mines a lot of money. One day, Kier took the curious oil, which was actually crude oil, and put it in his whiskey distillery. When the oil was distilled, it became petroleum, our first fossil fuel. The birth of oil distillation created industrial empires and gave birth to the modern mechanical age.
The birth of crude oil in commercial use eradicated the demand for whale blubber oil and whale hunting was reduced to a minimum. The levels of whale hunting have since been relatively sustainable for our largest and very treasured mammal. Of course, the discovery of oil lead to many deadly wars, global warming and might actually run out because of our insatiable appetites for Cadillac’s and SUVs, but hey, we can always use whiskey to drink our problems away.
Part 2 Coming Soon: Whiskey and America, The Model T, Ethanol, the Space Age, and the First Man on the Moon…
Hundreds of years ago, the mighty buffalo thundered across the land and carved paths known as traces. One such trace, the Great Buffalo Trace, led to the rugged banks of what is now known as the Kentucky River. Early adventurers followed the buffalo, and discovered some of Kentucky’s treasures, rich fertile land excellent for growing grain and abundant limestone waters. Distillation soon followed and in 1787 a working distillery started on the grounds, located in Frankfort, Ky. The first modern distillery was built on the site in 1857 and incorporated the use of steam power, a major advance in producing high quality bourbon. The distillery was later purchased by E.H. Taylor, Jr. one of Kentucky’s original Bourbon aristocrats. Astute and innovative, Taylor brought advancements to the facility as well as to the entire whiskey industry. By 1886, the distillery had introduced the nation’s first climate-controlled warehousing for aging whiskey and had earned a worldwide reputation for producing America’s finest bourbons. During Prohibition, the distillery existence was spared by the allowance of a permit – one of only a few issued in the country to continue distillation for medicinal purposes, therefore making it the oldest continuously operating bourbon distillery in the United States.
The Distillery Today
In 1992 the Sazerac company purchased the distillery and renamed it Buffalo Trace Distillery, paying homage to the mighty buffalo that once roamed the area. The Distillery has won numerous awards both for the fine bourbons it produces as well as the distillery itself. In 2010, Whisky Magazine named Buffalo Trace Distillery “Whisky Visitor Attraction of the Year.” Distillery tours are given six days a week. For tour information and times call 1-800-654-8471.
History of Barton 1792 Distillery, Barton Brands of Kentucky, Sazerac
Barton Brands Prior to Prohibition, there was no distilled spirits industry – just the whiskey business. Two Chicago gentlemen, Oscar Getz and Lester Abelson had been engaged in the whiskey business at this time. This was true after Prohibition as well, when these two men joined forces to re-enter the business shortly after the repeal in 1933 and founded Barton Brands.
By 1944, to ensure a reliable source of whiskey, Barton purchased the Tom Moore distillery in Bardstown, Kentucky. Tom Moore had been producing neutral spirits for the military during World War II but had recently returned to the art of bourbon.
A colorful personality, Oscar Getz loved the heritage of the American Whiskey business. Over the years, he collected whiskey memorabilia and eventually opened a museum in their offices in Bardstown. The Oscar Getz Museum remains open in Bardstown to this day.
Barton Brands Today
The Sazerac Company purchased Barton Brands in March of 2009. Facilities today include Barton Brands of Maryland, Lansdowne, MD, Barton Brands of California, Carson, CA and Barton 1792 Distillery, Barton Brands of Kentucky.