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Catoctin Creek Roundstone Rye 46%

Homeboys; the Invisible Force Field

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@VictorReview by @Victor

2nd Jan 2016


Catoctin Creek Roundstone Rye 46%
  • Nose
  • Taste
  • Finish
  • Balance
  • Overall

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  • Brand: Catoctin Creek
  • ABV: 46%

I live in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C. Catoctin Creek Distillery is located about 45 minutes northwest of me in Purcellville, Virginia. Scott and Becky Harris, proprietors of Catoctin Creek, are two of the most adroit hustlers I have ever seen. Their 'mom and pop' distillery hosts many concerts and whisky dinners as part of its very successful appeal to "drink local" in this region. It helps that the distillery is located in perhaps the richest county in the United States. The locals have money to spend. Becky is the distiller. Scott manages the business and promotes sales

The Invisible Force Field to which I refer in the title is that energy field over the Potomac River which tends to keep Marylanders from going into Virginia and Virginians from visiting Maryland. It is a weird and subtle thing, but those of you who are very sensitive will be able to feel it. It probably dates mostly from the American Civil War, in which the Potomac River separated the Union Armies and Federal Capital from the rebeling Confederates, who had their capital in Richmond, Virginia, 100 miles from Washington

Small distillers always have issues with cash flow in their early years. Catoctin Creek does sell unaged spirits and fruit brandies to go along with its sales of aged rye whiskey. At first Roundstone Rye was available only at 40% abv. Currently both the 40% abv and more recent 46% abv versions are available. The 40% abv version is being gradually phased out in favour of a strength more acceptable to whiskey sippers. So this 46% expression of Roundstone Rye being reviewed is now the main expression representing the Catoctin Creek line of rye whiskeys. It has no age statement, and is probably aged 6-12 months. Catoctin Creek also puts out a limited Cask Strengh version of Roundstone Rye and a recently released limited edition of Rabble Rouser, a true 4 year old 50% abv rye whiskey

The reviewed bottle from Batch B15617 belongs to my sister and was opened 6 weeks ago. All of the Catoctin Creek Rye Whiskeys and unaged rye spirits are made from 100% rye grain. To the best of my knowledge this is entirely or mostly UN-malted rye grain, fermented with the help of commercial enzymes added

Nose: floral, with roses, and spicy rye grain, mostly featuring black pepper, but also a little clove and nutmeg. There is a little dark fruit with the floral component, but just a little. Let this sit in the glass for half an hour and the fruits come out more, and the score would add a point. Water added also brings out the dark fruits more. Good quality, but could be richer. Score: 21.5/25 points

Taste: richer in the mouth with the spice coming out strongly, and the nuance of undifferentiated dark fruits becoming stronger. This is mostly very dry and very spicy in the classic style of US Rye whiskey. There is a sweet component, but dryness dominates. The body is on the light/thin side because this is what you get from rye grain. Selling this whisky at 46% is a huge improvement to selling it at 40% abv. This particular batch shows very strong flavours, but the RANGE of expression of the rye in this batch is adequate, but could be greater. Water added intensifies the flavours, but doesn't change them much. Score: 22/25 points

Finish: the peppery spice builds going into and through the finish. Water added slightly mutes the spiciness of the finish. Score: 21/25 points

Balance: US Rye is usually a dry drink. This batch of Roundstone Rye is very dry indeed. I would have liked some more fruit flavours...which may very well be present in another batch of this same whiskey. Score: 21/25 points

Total Sequential Score: 85.5 points

Strength: moderate flavours in the nose; forceful flavours in the mouth. Score: 23/25 points

Quality: very good quality of the flavours throughout. Score: 22/25 points

Variety: this whiskey would have benefited from additional fruit flavours and a wider range of spice flavours from rye grain. Score: 20/25 points

Harmony: good to very good harmony of the flavours. Score: 21.5/25 points

Total Non-Sequential Score: 86.5 points

Comment: Catoctin Creek Distillery has come a very long way in the last several years. I expect them to prosper and to easily survive the small distillery shake-out due to arrive within the next 5-10 years. This distillery has won many awards, not only for their whiskeys, but also for their fruit spirits. They make a fabulous Pear Brandy named Pearousia, for example. And Scott and Becky are two of the nicest people you will ever meet....