I decided to try this one on a side-by-side “neat and iced” tasting. Quite a contrasting difference – perhaps I’ll taste this way in future. When it won the award, I asked my brother in Vancouver to pick up a few bottles for me, as we were meeting down in New Zealand over Christmas 2016. Needless to say he ran about town in a frenzy and finally found only one bottle for me, but didn’t tell me until I opened it on Christmas Day, perhaps now there’s more in supply?
Colour: yellow gold.
Nose: Neat: strong hit of alcohol at first overpowering the aromas and nearly burnt my nose hairs.
Iced: diluted on (one large ball) of ice – definitely get steamed pears and some caramel…but then when I smelt it neat again, I got lovely light wood, nose hairs intact this time.
Palate: Neat: wow, spicy. Piercing my tongue on the sides with alcohol burn. Lots of oak comes through but nice and gentle.
Iced: I think I prefer it on ice - medium bodied, some light nutmeg, pepper is all over it but pleasant, it’s good. I will try it next time with a few drops of water only.
Finish: Neat: long finish with strong pepper, but not black pepper, more like red crushed peppercorns and also somewhat salty. Iced: less pepper, more fruit but hard to pinpoint exactly, maybe traces of almost ripe banana? It fades slowly. I’m actually liking it on ice, it’s easy drinking and a great price too, but I hope the alcohol burn earlier hasn’t killed my taste buds.
I’m no RYE expert, and probably need to get a few more in my cabinet. Jim Murray, whose 2016 edition of the Whisky Bible awarded CRNHR release a massive 97.5 points and the title of “World Whisky of the Year” – well you already knew that. I think I’ll pour another to see if I concur, still undecided but don’t think it will convince me in a hurry.