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Labrot and Graham Distillery doesn't make rye whiskey. Until now. Woodford Reserve Master's Collection has very recently released a set of two rye whiskeys, both from the same distillate, one aged in new casks and one aged in "aged casks". This is a review of the "Aged Cask Rye". "Aged cask" just means used barrels here, something unusual for American whiskeys. There is no age statement on the bottle. Chuck Cowdery speculates the age to be 7+ years old. The whiskey mashbill is 100% rye, from a combination of malted rye and unmalted rye. The whiskey was distilled in pot stills.
Colour: very pale
Body: very thin
Nose: Very unusual for a rye whiskey, or any American whiskey. Perfume of carnations and roses. Fine dilute peach brandy fruitiness. Malt flavours similar to some barley-malt whiskies, and also similar to the malted rye nose of Old Potrero 18th Century Style Whiskey (100% malted rye), but milder than the Old Potrero. This is also a little medicinal, like Eucalyptus cough drops. Overall interesting and rather pleasant when you get used to the novel flavour combinations. Water makes the nose more alcoholic and more citric.
Taste: Whoa! Hold the horses on this one. First, this screams of old wood, like some of the lesser Canadian whiskies. The wood flavours are dull and flat, and don't contribute anything very positive. Second, this tastes dilute, even watery. Third, the flavour that is delivered is a rather interesting high-pitched and rather strongly intense combination of old-wood, citrus, and rye. There is also a lot of grassy and malty undertone here. This is quite odd, but I like it nonetheless, primarily because the flavours remain strong despite the watery body. Very interestingly if this is left to sit for 20-30 minutes the flavours fuse together into a nice and rather interesting whole. This effect should be experienced, because it is tasty and different from a less-oxidized tasting of the whiskey. Tasting with water added brings out the musty old oak and is not something I would intentionally seek out again.
Finish, or Aftertaste? a little spirity. This is fruit brandy like, with the peach flavours and rye spices remaining sharp at first, then going quite sweet and long. The rye remains quite spicy throughout. This finish is interesting and unusual, like everything else with this whiskey.
Balance: Wow. This is very idiosyncratic whiskey. I love the weirdness of what goes on here, and it has some quite intense flavours when you let it unfold in your mouth. I can't get past the stale old wood flavours and dilute thin body, though. First nosing and first tasting did make me break out in involuntary laughter, though.