When a bottle label says that it was a “small batch” of whiskey “aged in 5 different barrels” my mind automatically Google Translates that into “made from leftover barrels that we didn’t know what to do with.” That may or may not be fair but I just write a blog so I don’t have to be fair. Apparently the blend started as a personal project for the owner…
The Pikesville brand was a pre-Prohibition (and post- until distillation ceased in 1972) Maryland rye. The brand now claims the distinction of being the last Maryland rye brand to fall, despite the category’s once prolific market presence. Heaven Hill brought the brand (although not the Maryland origin) back to life in 2015, using stocks of 6 year-old rye.
According to the marketing spin on Forgiven, a warehouse worker accidentally blended some Wild Turkey straight rye into some Wild Turkey straight bourbon, which automatically made a blended American whiskey that can’t be called “straight” anymore. Presumably the accident tasted pretty good so Wild Turkey bottled it as a limited edition, small batch blend at 45.5% ABV…
… None of that matters yet, because what we have here is no-name rye from somewhere (MGP? Who knows, there’s no hint on the bottle). The twist, though, is that this two year-old rye (a 90% rye / 10% malted barley mash bill) is finished for an additional two years in “white wine seasoned” French Oak barrels.
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…
Wild Turkey has been making rye since before the “rye renaissance” began – starting some time in the 1980s, using a “barely legal” mashbill of 51% rye, 37% corn, and 12% malted barley. … Only last year (2017) did Wild Turkey 101 Kentucky Straight Rye reappear, and only in the restaurant- and bar-oriented 1-liter format. It also sported a new label and a higher price tag, at around $40 a liter.
So apparently a brand called Kentucky Owl Bourbon was sold from 1879 through Prohibition and the business failed when its whisky was seized by the government for impounding. There’s a story about a warehouse fire, and Al Capone… the sort of thing that looks good on a whisky website and is impossible to corroborate. … The whiskey is from a batch of barrels of 11 year-old straight rye whiskey acquired from an unnamed distillery (or distilleries?) in Kentucky, and then bottled in Bardstown, Kentucky at a robust 55.3% ABV.
Dad’s Hat is a craft Pennsylvania rye made by Mountain Laurel Spirits, LLC, at the Grundy Mill Distillery in Bristol, PA. A locally-sourced mashbill of 80% rye, 15% malted barley, and 5% malted rye is distilled and aged for six months in new, charred oak quarter casks. … Dad’s Hat uses a combination of malted and unmalted rye, which is one of the traditions that marked the Monongahela rye style.
What makes this unique is that the unmalted Canadian rye (about 80% of the mashbill) and unmalted Canadian wheat (the distillery is working towards sourcing local grains) is distilled with a portion of malted barley from Wyoming that has been smoked with California cherry wood. This is a concerted effort by the distiller to create the effect of a barrel-aged Manhattan without using any additives (wine, bitters, etc.). The distillery uses alembic copper pot stills, and double-distills its whiskies.
On a very serious business-related trip, for business, my wife and I dragged ourselves (complaining all the way) up to picturesque Sonoma County, California, to trudge through a tour of Sonoma County Distilling Company’s facility and reluctantly down a bunch of samples. For business.