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Pikesville 6 Year Old 110 Proof Straight Rye

Spiced Candyfloss

7 1392

@RianCReview by @RianC

31st Jul 2019

1

  • Nose
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  • Taste
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  • Finish
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  • Balance
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  • Overall
    92

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Distribution of ratings for this: brand user

Lots one could say about this whiskey but I'll settle for saying that it has had the critics drooling since its release and, so it would seem, also the 'layperson'. I've liked all previous Heaven Hill products and have been really enjoying my forays into the rye world. It's also fairly hard to come by in the UK so I grabbed a bottle while I could. Expectations were a little high, it must be said . . . so how is it?

Bottle's been open almost two months with about 4/5's left. Pour is neat (and large!) and, for a change, from my Taylor D glass.

Nose - Big, sweet spices; lots of clove, some cinnamon, baker's ginger, pepper a little cardamom and a hint of anise. What's delightfully unusual here though is that it's as though the spices (which are mostly sweet in relation to spices in general, but not sweet per se) have been sugar coated. Spices on candy floss, if you will. It's delightful. There's a little chocolaty toffee in there, sour red apple and rye bread along with a slight gherkin note. The alcohol is present but it doesn't burn or sting, but rather warms the senses.

Taste - Oh man, you can chew on this for an age - great body and grip. More of the sour apple and spun-sugar on the arrival, which seems contrary to the nose's suggestion; but then the spices from the nose unfurl on the tongue. Would it be pretentious to say they dance? Yes. Moving on. Turns a little drier as it develops and the pepper sings loudly. I also get some vanilla and a slightly floral, bourbon like flavour.

Finish - Fairly long. More pepper and some oak tannins that balance nicely with the sweet, spicy nose and palate.

This isn't far of the bliss point in terms of whisk(e)y, it really isn't. I've never had a rye that offers such a sweet counter balance to all the spice the way this does, and it is immensely enjoyable. In fact, balanced is a great way to describe this along with cliches such as 'it's like a fireworks display in my mouth'. I am left a little sorrowful as each sip passes though as a) it's not a cheap bottle over here and b) it's not all that available. Still, this is a must for a repurchase - I'd buy a case if I could.

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13 comments

@Victor
Victor commented

@RianC thank you for your excellently perceptive and lovingly executed review. I think that you have captured Pikesville Rye 6 yo 55% extremely well in words. 'Candied' is a perfect description of it.

It is true that most US ryes do not have strong sweet components and that Pikesville is sweeter in style than are almost all of them.

I hope that your supply of Pikesville remains available and affordable. In the US I was concerned that Pikesville might become scarce after Mr. Murray named it Second Finest Whisky in the World several years ago. That has not happened domestically, mostly I think because there is now a proliferation of rye whiskey products in the US that would be unimaginable 10 years ago. It is also true that in the USA rye whiskey has never after Prohibition had remotely the following that bourbon has had, mostly, I think because Americans still have a bit of sweet tooth with respect to whiskey. So I am guessing that UK availability for Pikesville will remain because the domestic market is not selling out.

I've seen people complain about the domestic price of Pikesville at $ 45 to $ 55, for a 6 yo near barrel strength, but Thomas Handy is a 6 yo too, and that one fetches $ 300 on the secondary market. Among US distilleries, Heaven Hill has always been just about the most competitive of the big distilleries.

19 days ago 2Who liked this?

@OdysseusUnbound
OdysseusUnbound commented

Thanks for your excellent review. This sounds delightful, and it’s been on my “want to try” list for awhile, but at $90 CAD, it’s just a little too expensive (even by Ontario standards) for me to take the plunge blindly.

19 days ago 0

@RianC
RianC commented

@Victor - Thanks! I'll be interested to try this against the Rittenhouse BiB. I'd guess that has a similar profile? But maybe not . . .

Heaven Hill are really doing things the right way and it's great to hear that you guys are able to get this at what is still a decent price. It goes for c£75 minimum over here so there's quite a hike on the US price but given it's a 5 year old CS rye import - and tastes like it does - I don't think that's a rip off at all.

19 days ago 0

@RianC
RianC commented

@OdysseusUnbound - Cheers, mate! Going off your likes on here, I think you'd be safe taking the plunge! But, as I say above, this isn't cheap over here either but I'd say it's well worth it.

19 days ago 1Who liked this?

@OdysseusUnbound
OdysseusUnbound commented

@RianC

Heaven Hill are really doing things the right way

For their rye, maybe. The Elijah Craig Small Batch that replaced the old Elijah Craig 12 Year Old is an absolute disaster, as far as I’m concerned. Just a hot mess and embarrassing to the Elijah Craig brand. But that’s “just an opinion, malt-mate. It’s just an opinion.” stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye

19 days ago 1Who liked this?

@Victor
Victor commented

Price valuations within the potential purchaser vary enormously with market conditions. In 2011 I watched two bottles of Pappy Van Winkle 23 yo sit on a shelf for a year, thinking " $200 for a bottle of bourbon? You must be crazy!" Now they auction for $ 2,600 per bottle. If I could go back in time I would pay the $ 200 per bottle. Hindsight is 20/20 and I have not yet met the individual who successfully predicted what happened to world whisk(e)y markets between the years of 2010 and 2014.

@OdysseusUnbound that was probably the batches of Elijah Craig you sampled. I had the worst bottle I have EVER bought of the EC 12 yo, and have tasted very good NAS Elijah Craig Small Batch. As Elijah Craig goes, I only buy the 12 yo Barrel Proof, though, of which I have maybe a dozen bottles in storage. Batch variation is a very big deal in any large-batch whisk(e)y release. I've had bad Talisker 10, Highland Park 12, standard Buffalo Trace, and others generally liked. I've also tasted all of those from much better batches, which I liked. Yes, recovering trust after a bad bottle is a VERY difficult thing to do.

19 days ago 2Who liked this?

@RianC
RianC commented

@OdysseusUnbound - That's disappointing to hear. I loved my last bottle of the EC 12 and have another in the stash that I'm even more reluctant to open now . . .

19 days ago 1Who liked this?

@OdysseusUnbound
OdysseusUnbound commented

@RianC The old EC 12, with the age statement on the front label was consistently on my shelf. It used to sell for about $45 in Ontario and was a deal at that price point. The EC Small Batch was one of the few bottles I’ve ever returned to the LCBO. Maybe I was too hasty. Perhaps letting it sit in the cabinet for a few months (years?) would have improved it. But it was such a hot mess of paint thinner and cheap vanilla flavouring that I wanted nothing to do with it.

19 days ago 1Who liked this?

@Victor
Victor commented

@RianC NB the last part of my previous post, added after you posted.

19 days ago 2Who liked this?

@OdysseusUnbound
OdysseusUnbound commented

@Victor Re: Batch variations and trust

You are absolutely correct. I’m incredibly hesitant to buy another HP 12, which is a bit illogical since I’ve only had one bad bottle in many years of buying “good, very good, and excellent” bottles. But the fact remains, I’m hesitant to buy it. I’m incredibly reluctant to buy anything from Glen Garioch, since I’ve tried samples from 3 different expressions and all of them were badly sulphured.

19 days ago 1Who liked this?

@RianC
RianC commented

@OdysseusUnbound - Maybe batch variation is common thing at HH then, as @Victor suggests (well, all bourbons, to be fair). Funnily enough, I had an Evan Williams White Label BiB that was near undrinkable at first - my previous bottle had been truly excellent (I reviewed the former on here). I've decanted it several times and it's had almost a year of air time and it has got better, but nowhere near as good as that first bottle.

Mark, form the Whisky Whistle, reckoned the spirits laid down in the summer as opposed to the winter could have a big impact on flavour - but I guess BiB's are more seasonal?

19 days ago 1Who liked this?

@RianC
RianC commented

@OdysseusUnbound - I wouldn't bother with the new HP 12, but that's just my opinion, Malt-Mate laughing

19 days ago 2Who liked this?

@Victor
Victor commented

@OdysseusUnbound you and me both. There are quite a few products I will not buy because I do not want a second bad experience. There are no guarantees, though, including loving your first, second, and third bottle of a given product.

What is heartbreaking is when a great favourite fails you. I was totally flummoxed when the bottle of George Dickel # 12 I insisted that my friend @Nock buy because it was such a favourite of mine tasted not good, and nothing like the Dickel # 12 which I had known. You do not ever know in advance what you are going to get when you buy a bottle of whisk(e)y. @Nock and I also have bottles of Aberlour A'bunadh Batch # 45, which when tasted side by side, we both agree that my bottle is 10 points better than is his.

19 days ago 2Who liked this?

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