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.
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.”
@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.