Continuing my recent trend of reviews of whiskies that are not scotch, today I am taking a look at the Redemption Rye Whiskey, a readily available, good quality, middle-shelf rye with a very reasonable price point.
Rye whiskey was very popular and widely produced throughout the US prior to Prohibition. Sadly, for various reasons, rye fell out of favor in the post-Prohibition era and production nearly ended, at least in the US – Canada continued its production and use in their whiskies. In recent years, though, rye whiskey in the US has seen a wonderful resurgence. Riding the wave of growth in the broader whiskey category, the return of rye is due, in no small part, to the expanding cocktail niche. Rye whiskey offers a robust, richly spiced, drier flavor profile that works well in a number of cocktails in which a bourbon, with its sweeter character, might not fare so well. Rye whiskey makes a great Manhattan, Sazerac or Old Fashioned where its bold, spicy nature works well with the sweeter counterparts!
The renewed interest in ryes has also spurred the release of numerous straight ryes, well-aged bottles, and distilleries offering differing their own takes on the core profile – like the High West Double Rye, a blend of straight rye whiskies. With the explosion in demand for rye, there has been a boom in the number of distilleries now producing and maturing their own rye whiskies and, for the fans, this is great news!
About Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits
Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits was founded in 1981 by Chairman, Bill Deutsch, to market quality wine and spirits produced by prestigious families from major wine and spirits regions of the world. The business that initially began with two employees importing a few family producers from France over three decades ago has grown to include a prestigious roster of internationally renowned, award-winning brands serviced by over 170 employees.
Review: Redemption Rye Whiskey, Batch 097, Bottle No. 2212.
Redemption Rye Whiskey is distilled from a mash of 95% rye and 5% malted barley, then aged in new, charred American oak barrels for at least 2.5 years (but less than 4 years) before being bottled at a respectable 46% abv. And, in a much appreciated disclosure, the “producers” of Redemption Rye Whiskey, Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits, now clearly state that their whiskies are sourced from MGP, the mega spirits-producing facility in Lawrenceburg, IN. Before you turn your back on this whiskey because of its production source, you should consider that MGP was recognized by Whisky Advocate as the 2015 Distiller of the Year!
If you’ve not heard of MGP (Midwest Grain Products) before, MGP is a very large producer of various spirits, on contract, and in some cases to proprietary recipes, for a vast number of recognized brands. MGP was also one of the only producers and suppliers of rye whiskies – either for use as bourbon components or as straight ryes – before the renewed interest in rye whiskies gained steam. So, in many cases, the rye whiskies you’ve been enjoying over the last few years very likely came from MGP!
Nose: Sweet caramel, floral, coconut, soft spices and a hint of sharp pepper and tangy lemon. Neat, this is a rather dense nose full of rye spices that gets better with time. There are notes of soft brown sugar, it is very floral, there is some oak, fresh cherries. Adding water brings out a very “bourbon-esque” corn sweetness, a hint of brown sugar and maple syrup, but this sweeter side settles before long and the focus becomes more about the grains and spices with marbled rye toast, clover honey, and dried floral notes. It maintains a decent balance between the sweetness and the spice notes.
Taste: Sweet and somewhat delicate on the arrival. Hints of coconut and sweet, ripe berries. This is a much sweeter arrival than many ryes, full of brown sugar and honey; it really seems somewhat “bourbony”. Along the way, I get a touch of lemon juice, then the rye spice notes reassert themselves. With water, again, I get quite a big dose of the sweeter flavors, but they fade rather soon and allow the rye notes to rise in prominence. Soft citric zest.
Finish: Sweet, but not too sweet, floral and spiced, delicate, lemon juice, and then a drying oakiness.
Overall: At times this seems more a bourbon than a rye whiskey, but then it shifts gears and gets back to the rye with some very beautiful grassy/spicy elements. That being said, given that the labeling states a 95% rye mash, it must have been some very active casks to pull such sweetness from the oak. Even though the sweeter aspect is so prominent, it does maintain a nicely spiced profile. So, bottom line, for me: this is good, if not the most complex rye whiskey out there. With its relatively reasonable price point, the Redemption Rye Whiskey delivers what it promises, a good, middle of road rye whiskey that is suitable for sipping or for mixing in cocktails.
Region: Unite States
Distillery: MGP, Lawrenceburg, IN
Bottler: Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits
Type: Rye Whiskey
Age: More than 2.5 years, less than 4 years
Maturation: New, charred American oak
Availability: Readily available (Total Wine, Specs, True Spirits, Sigels)
Sample Source: My own bottle