Treaty Oak is a Texas distillery founded in 2006 near Austin with a story so familiar that I’m getting tired of repeating it on this blog. An upstart distillery, not enough startup capital, long time to wait for whiskey to age, blah blah blah. These guys added a clever twist by branding their “get sourced whiskey to pay the bills” bottlings under the “Red Handed” moniker. In other words, they stole somebody else’s whiskey. Yuk yuk. Thankfully, there is also a “grain to glass” bottling of the distillery’s own output called Ghost Hill, which will see an upcoming review.
I reviewed the Red Handed Bourbon in a previous post, with the same opener (sue me, I’m lazy). I liked the bourbon quite a bit. The rye has a bit higher ABV at 50%, and an actual age statement at a resounding 10 years. That’s pretty high for rye in the current market. A bit of digging revealed that this rye is from the Schenley distillery, at a mashbill of 53% rye, 39% corn and 8% barley. I spent a little too much time researching this, as the name Schenley is both a storied name in American whiskey and also awash with confusion. After reading here and here and elsewhere, I gave up and asked the producer. This is in fact Canadian-made rye whisky distilled at the Schenley plant in Quebec. It could be related to Golden Wedding or OFC, two brands produced at that facility. It could also just be industry contract juice with no particular relevance to other brands. There is precious little info about the Quebec Schenley plant.
Treaty Oak is in the middle of an expansion, looking to market its products beyond Texas. Thanks to Aaron at Ro-Bro Marketing for the samples!
Nose: Woah, that’s some potent whiskey. Cotton candy and fruit punch, fresh green apple, lemonade, and a waxy note that could be beeswax or could be Pledge floor polish.
Palate: Thin body. Very hot, even for 50% ABV. After the burn subsides, there is a reprise of some of the sweet/fruity notes from the aroma, plus bubblegum.
Finish: Medium-short. More of the same (it’s consistent, I’ll give it that). Finishes downright tart, like sour candy.
With Water: A few drops of water – for some reason – seems to mute the aroma, adding only a faint rosewater note. I suggest saving the water unless you find it too hot for your liking.
Overall: 10 year-old rye is in short supply in the market these days (hence the inflated price), but I’m not sure how sold I am on this one. Some of the candy notes are very similar to bottom-shelf bourbons I’ve had like McAfee and Rebel Yell, and there’s an utter lack of the kinds of spices one associates with rye. Still, if you’re able to sort out the Schenley mystery or if these kinds of sweet and fruity Canadian-style ryes are your thing, this might be a diamond in the rough.