Redemption Rye Whiskey

Redemption Rye Whiskey , Batch 097

Redemption Rye whiskey is another of those ubiquitous whiskies seen on the shelves of most retail stores and a good number of bars. This is a sourced whiskey brought to the market by Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits, a distributor primarily focused on wines, with labels such as Yellow Tail, Hob Nob, Skyfall, and Peter Lehman. Deutsch also produces Luksuskowa vodka and Redemption Rye Whiskey, but needless to say, they are not distilling the Redemption Rye whiskey. At least they are upfront about the fact that they source their whiskey from Lawrenceville, Indiana (MGP) and that it is batched and barreled in Bardstown Kentucky at Bardstown Barrel Selections. Kudos for the honesty!

According to their website fact sheet, Redemption Rye is made with a high rye content and aged in new charred American oak barrels. Deutsch also discloses that the age of their whiskies is less than four years old! Each bottle also includes batch and bottle number information.  From there they go on with typical marketing drivel, emphasizing that MGP has a 168-year history…like that has any bearing on this particular whiskey,

Anyway, here we have another MGP-produced rye whiskey – some of which are very, very good, by the way! As MGP produces these whiskies to the buyer’s specific recipe, even though these rye whiskies might share a distillery, they can be vastly different. Let’s see how this one stacks up!



Review: Redemption Rye Whiskey, Bottled 2012, Batch 097, Bottle No. 2212, 46% abv

Color:  Amber/Gold.

Nose: (Neat) A rather dense nose full of rye spices, soft brown sugar, oak, and hints of black cherry.  Sweet caramel,  floral notes, coconut, soft spices and hints of sharp pepper and tangy lemon. Water brings out a big “bourbon-esque” corn sweetness. It maintains a reasonable balance between the sweetness and the rye spice notes that arrive later. Brown sugar, maple, marbled rye toast, honey, dried floral notes.

Taste:  A sweet and somewhat delicate arrival. Coconut, sweet berries, with brown sugar and honey – still “bourbony”, There is a touch of lemon juice. Then the rye notes arrive adding a soft spice and a floral, grassy aspect that rides on top of the sweeter notes. With water, again, quite a sweet arrival that fades rather soon, allowing the rye notes to rise in prominence. A bit of a soft citric zest also shows up.

Finish: Sweet, but not too sweet, a blast of the rye spice. Remains delicate, with lemon, and then a drying oakiness.

Overall: I just can’t escape the sense that this is more of a bourbon than a rye. Despite the labeling, and the marketing material claim that this is a high rye content whiskey, it lacks some of the bold, floral spiciness that I look for in a good rye. For me, the nose on the redemption Rye is the best aspect of this whiskey, because here is where the rye profile shows up most. On the palate, the whiskey starts out sweet, the rye spice notes arrive, then fade, and all the while that corn sweetness continues to play across the palate. Honestly, if I didn’t know it, I’d have said that this one has a much higher corn ratio in the mashbill than claimed because the sweetness is just so prominent. Sure, there is a nicely spiced aspect, but it really comes across as a middle of road rye designed to appeal to bourbon drinkers without offending them with an excessively spicy, high rye content. Redemption Rye is a good, but not great, rye whiskey; enjoyably inoffensive to a bourbon drinker, but it certainly won’t excite any true rye fans. 


Rating 81



Region: United States

Distillery: Midwest Grain Products (MGP), Lawrenceville, IN

Bottler: Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits 

Type: Rye Whiskey

Age: less than 4 years

ABV: 46%

Maturation: new charred American oak

Price: $27 (2013), $26 (2017)

Availability: Always available 

Sample Source: My own bottle


Irish Whiskey Tasting at Trinity Hall

Irish Whiskey Tasting at Trinity Hall!

Once again, the first Tuesday of the month meant that there was a whisky tasting at my favorite Irish Pub in Dallas…..Trinity Hall! And as no real great surprise for an Irish Pub in March with the rapidly approaching to St. Patrick’s Day holiday, the focus was on Irish Whiskey! 


After a century of near extinction, to the barebones existence when the only selections of Irish Whiskey seemed to come from either Jameson or Bushmill’s, the Irish whiskey industry’s renaissance continues to surge forward. It seems like almost every month there is news of a new distillery project – which is good news if you’re a fan! Increasing interest in Irish Whiskey has sparked an expansion throughout Ireland, and which has resulted in a plethora of new whiskies from new distilleries – some still using sourced whiskies, as well as a rise in new releases from the venerable old giants. Our tasting touched on a little of both!


Jamesons Cooper’s Croze

The first selection of the evening was one of those new releases from one of the giants of Irish Whiskey, Jameson. The Cooper’s Croze is the first in
a planned three-release series honoring the craftsmen of the Jameson cooperage staff, in this case the Head Cooper, Ger Buckley. 

How did the name Cooper’s Croze come about? From the Jameson website, “The whiskey’s namesake – the croze – is named after Ger’s favorite tool, an implement used to make the groove into which the head of the cask or barrel is positioned.”

The Cooper’s Croze, which was matured in virgin American oak, ex-bourbon and Iberian sherry barrels, showed off a very traditional Jameson profile, heavy on the vanilla, a lot of soft, delicate floral notes, hints of white chocolate, a little orange, a bit of fresh ginger. It remains on the sweet and delicate side throughout. The body had a pretty nice feel to it, kind of a medium-light viscosity. I think the 43% abv, instead of the 40% helped quite a bit. The finish was nice, albeit, a tad on the simple side. I have to say that this was much better than the standard, ubiquitous Jameson with which most people are familiar, but running at a little more than twice the cost of the standard, $65 at Total Wine, it should be better!


The Quiet Man, 8-year old Irish Single Malt

Our second selection was a new one for me, an 8-year old Irish Single Malt labeled as “The Quiet Man.” The label tells us that this whiskey was bottled in Derry by Ciaran Mulgrew and named, The Quiet Man in honor of his bartender father, John Mulgrew who, as a bartender for 50 years, knew not to reveal the secrets told to him over a glass or a pint…or so the marketing blurb tells us. Believe it if you will, just remember, the Irish have the Blarney Stone for a reason! 

Anyway, this whiskey is described as having been distilled in traditional Irish whiskey pot stills, matured in oak barrels and then it was re-casked in first-fill bourbon casks. It costs $35 at the local Total Wine.

The single malt profile is evident, with a slightly “fatter” feel in the arrival, but that sort of dissipated after a few minutes, a victim of the low abv. Like the Jameson, this is heavy on the vanilla, but also shows some honey, a bit of warm bread, touches of ginger and coconut, soft floral notes, and then more vanilla. 


Jack Ryan ‘Beggar’s Bush’ 12-year old Irish Single Malt

The third whiskey of the evening was another “new” whiskey to the Irish craze. The name, Jack Ryan, refers to an old Irish whiskey-making family whose distillery closed in 1946. The Jack Ryan ‘Beggars Bush’ Single Malt Irish Whiskey is 12 years old and bottled at 46% with no chill-filtration. It was matured in ex-bourbon barrels and reportedly, only 1450 bottles were produced.

This one was….interesting….and not in an entirely good way. There was just something odd in the nose that we all had difficulty identifying, and that kept nagging at me throughout the tasting. I got some orchard fruits, a good dose of vanilla, a hint of white pepper, some coconut, and that ever-present oddity. Initially, I wondered if my glass still had some soap in it, but as everyone seemed to pick up on the odd note, I don’t think that was the issue. Then, at one point it reminded me of swamp oak – a really weird smelling wood – but that wasn’t quite it, either. Sean kept thinking of Windex. Honestly, we all seemed to struggle with this one. Whatever it was, it was a detraction to the experience. I’d be curious to try this again another day to see if it might have been just this bottle, or something in the glasses, or some other situational factor that affected our impressions.

A bottle of Jack Ryan ‘Beggar’s Bush’ runs $54 at Total Wine.


Knappogue Castle 12-year old Irish Single Malt

The Knappogue Castle name has been around for longer than many people know, particularly in the US, where it only somewhat recently started to show up on shelves. Knappogue Castle is an independent bottler started in 1966 by Mark Edwin Andrews. Andrews purchased Knappogue Castle, a 15th century castle in Ireland, and restored it. He also began buying casks of whiskey from distilleries in the country (what I’ve read is that it was most likely Bushmill’s). Andrews aged and bottled the whiskies under now the Knappogue Castle label.

I’ve tried two other Knappogue Castle releases, in fact I have a 14-year old single malt in the closet destined for its own review before too long. 

Here was another Irish Single Malt, but this was much less vanilla-centric than either the Jack Ryan or The Quiet Man. Fruity, slightly bready, a delicate floral notes, hints of black pepper and herbal spices. Not the most complex Irish Single Malt, but a well-developed whiskey. This one runs about $37 at Total Wine and might be the best value-to-quality ratio of the evening.



Redbreast Lustau Edition

I was very excited to see the Redbreast Lustau Edition on the menu! I’d read a number of positive comments about this whiskey, but had refrained from buying it because I am already shipping so many bottles to Spain. I mean I have to exercise some self-restraint now and again – no matter how hard that might be to do! The good news is that the Lustau Edition is intended to be a permanent addition to their core lineup, so I will have another opportunity to get one!

The Lustau Edition is aged in ex-bourbon and ex-oloroso sherry casks and then matured for an additional year, “in hand selected, first-fill sherry butts that are seasoned with Oloroso sherry from the prestigious Bodegas Lustau in Jerez, Spain.” The name refers to this partnership with the Bodegas Lustau. This whiskey runs about $60 at Total Wine here in Texas, although the website indicates that they are out of stock at the moment. 

After the first three whiskies of the evening, all of which were heavily vanilla-centric, this was another welcome change of pace. The sherry-maturation was immediately evident with the sherry coming across as more of a dry sherry. This had a very nutty, herbal, sherry influence. There was some clove, cinnamon, milk chocolate, orange peel, and hints of raisins. The sherry stayed away from adding sweeter notes, allowing the very subtle vanilla notes from the bourbon casks to fulfill that role. This was a very elegant whiskey and definitely the best of the evening for me.


The Exclusive Malts, 13-year old Single Malt Irish Whiskey, 2002 

This one was another independent bottling of a Single Malt Irish Whiskey from the Creative Whisky Company without formal attribution as to the distillery, but I suspect it to be Cooley. My apologies as this was also a single cask release, however I neglected to make note of the specific cask! I do know that it was bottled at 52.8% abv, making it the highest abv of the evening. 

As you might imagine with the high abv, this was a bit hot when sampled neat. There were some orchard fruit and honey notes, along with a malty base. Adding water to this one, though, and it took water well, revealed a very rich whisky with malty, fruity, and honey notes. Orchard fruits, both red and green apples, hints of pears, ginger, malty vanilla, a bit of toffee, and some soft floral notes. General consensus was that this was the number two rated whisky of the evening. This one ran in the $150 range at Specs, however I believe that it is no longer available.


Connemara 12 year old

Despite the fact that peat was commonly used to heat homes in Ireland in the past, peated whiskey is something of a rarity in Irish Whiskey, at least within the range of current offerings. The lone exception to that situation is Connemara, a peated Single Malt from the Kilbeggan Distillery! A bottle of will set you back around $70.

There is no question that it is a peater! Oily and smoky, full of burnt tyres (it is an Irish Whiskey, after all, so the description should be spelled appropriately!!), rubber bands, burnt grass, and damp earth……just the way I like it! But it also has a balancing malty sweetness, splashes of apple juice, fresh lemon, and hints of vanilla. With a good body and decent finish, this is a highly enjoyable whiskey…if you like peat. 


It was another great tasting hosted by Marius and the staff at Trinity Hall! Thanks for continuing to put on these wonderful opportunities to explore all sorts of whiskies in such friendly confines!!

NWC: “Everything but the Kitchen Sink!”

Newcomers Whisky Club: “Everything but the Kitchen Sink!” Tasting


I’ve referenced in a couple of the recent posts that our Newcomers Whisky Club had a big blowout tasting event in February which was, sadly, my last hurrah leading this great group! The underlying motivation for this bash was our impending move to Spain. As I am learning, it is a huge challenge just to ship a substantial collection of whisky bottles – and shipping open bottles isn’t even an option. So, since any open bottles can’t be shipped, what better way to “drain the swamp” than to host a big party and try to finish as many as we could??? The theme for the evening became “Everything but the Kitchen Sink” and the line-up consisted of all the open bottles that I had in my whisky closet!  


This posting is going to be photo heavy with a minimum of commentary, because what can I say better to convey the fun than the photos do by themselves? As you can see, we had a great turnout, a lot of fun, and shared some great whiskies! I think we had nearly 50 people join us, including some first-timers! 


Mike and I set up all the whiskies on the kitchen counter, grouped into the various categories – Scotch Unpeated, Scotch Peated, Scotch Blends, Grain, Irish, World, and American. We also separated the Cask Strength / High abv bottles from their more modest abv counterparts, just to help with individual selections. Of course, all the hard work to organize the bottles evaporated very quickly as people began to search through everything. 





Scotch Unpeated selections! Several Glenmorangies and a selection of Berry Bros single cask whiskies from previous NWC events, Old Pulteney 21 yr, the Diageo 2010 Special Release Auchroisk 20 yr, the AD Rattray Linkwood that I just reviewed (here), the Arran Devil’s Punchbowl II, a bottle of the Glendronach Cask Strength Batch 2.





The Scotch Peated whiskies! A couple of Bruichladdich Port Charlottes, including the 2007 CC:01 which had been finished in a Cognac cask, the Laphroaig 15 yr, a Lagavulin 16 and the 2010 release of the Lagavulin 12 yr.






The Blends – mostly Johnnie Walker, but also the Berry Bros Blue Hanger 7th Release. 


The World Whiskies had a couple of good Japanese and a couple of rather “meh” whiskies from KaVaLan. These particular KaVaLans are their bottom shelf offerings that are not anywhere near as good as the Solist bottlings. The big surprise here was the Cyril’s 20 year old single malt from New Zealand – that bottle emptied in a hurry!




The Irish Whiskies and Scotch Grain selections were a bit on the sparse side. I don’t have too many Scotch grains to begin with, and only one open at the time. And the limited Irish selection is due primarily that they tend to not stay open in my closet for very long….too darn good!







Our American Whiskies selection was a little better represented! The Old Forester Single Barrel is one that I hope to review here shortly – before that, too, gets finished! Many of the folks had not tried the Weller 12 and it was a big hit! There was the Maker’s Mark Cask Strength, the Ryemaggedon from the Corsair Distillery, and a couple of bottles of the Smooth Ambler Yearling.





So you can see, there was plenty to choose from at our “Everything but the Kitchen Sink” tasting, and there was truly something for everyone to enjoy.


At the close of the evening, the group surprised us with a couple of wonderful gifts. There is no question, though, that mine was the better of the two……a 26 year old Tormore single cask from the Duncan Taylor Dimensions line. That one is going to be shared with any of our NWC friends who visit us in Spain!


Ben Nevis 17 yr _ Cadenhead’s Small Batch

Today we’re looking at a Ben Nevis 17 year old release from the Cadenhead Small Batch series. These Cadenhead bottlings began showing up in Texas about three years ago and, so far, my experience with their selections have been extremely positive.


The term Small Batch, as used by Cadenhead, means that no more than a few barrels were combined to produce a particular release. Given that this Ben Nevis 17 yo release has only 252 bottles, at 54.1% abv, there were probably two, perhaps three barrels that were combined to achieve this out-turn. The whisky was distilled in 1996 and bottled in 2014.


Ben Nevis is another one of those lesser-known distilleries with very few official releases, at least here in the US.From what I’ve read, though, Ben Nevis is very popular in Japan, so there may be some official bottlings there.  



Review: Ben Nevis 17 year old, Cadenhead Small Batch, Distilled 1996, Bottled 2014, Matured in Bourbon Hogshead, 252 Total Bottles, 54.1% abv 


Color: White wine


Nose: (N) Hay, orange zest, toffee, cardamom, sandalwood, rosewater, green peppers, and just a hint of smoke. After a few minutes, I also get some apples mixed with a hint of vanilla, and more of the earthy peat funkiness that I frequently get with Ben Nevis – something slightly vegetal, like damp tree bark. The fruits continue to pick up steam with time: more of the red apples, overripe bananas and honeydew melon, and orange juice. (W) The high abv doesn’t really detract from this whisky, but adding a few drops of water does bring out more of the orange notes, and more of the peaty aromas. The notes seem a little more vibrant, too. Red apples, the rosewater and sandalwood, toffee.


Taste: (N) Warm, but not too hot; surprisingly approachable, and very good, even at full strength. Vanilla cream, warm croissants, orange juice, more citric notes in the middle with orange and lime zest adding some “zing” (that’s a highly technical term!), cardamom, the red apples, and a soft peat smoke note. (W): Okay, I said that this was very good neat, and it is, but while the nose improved a bit with water, the palate just takes off with the addition of a very little water and several minutes. If you jump in right after adding the water, there is a cedar shaving note that dominates the fruits and other flavors. Give it 10 or 15 minutes, though, and you’ll have a vastly different – and superior – experience. The arrival becomes sweeter and what little heat there was disappears, leaving you with a really beautiful whisky! Orange juice, lime zest, rosewater, fresh-baked brioche, cream, red apples, a soft peppery spice, vanilla toffee, cardamom, a bit more of the earthy peat, and just a soft smokey note that lingers around the edges. While my flavor descriptions are very similar, the whisky, with water, just becomes much more vibrant, bigger, richer, and more complex. 


Finish: Toffee and orange notes dominate the early finish, then it shifts to the fruits, both sweet and citric, before the red apple and toffee notes mingle with the smoke to bring it to a close. Good length to the finish, too.


Overall: The Ben Nevis 17 year old is a very good whisky! This is why I’ve become a big fan of this distillery! Complex and inviting, especially with water – yes, I know I said it didn’t need water early in my notes! It doesn’t need much water, but water just does this one wonders! There is just a touch of peat and smoke to tickle your nose and tongue, but not enough to put off someone who is not a peat fan. Loads of fruits, at times sweet, at others tangy, with enough movement to keep you engaged!


Rating 87




Region: Highlands

Distillery: Ben Nevis

Bottler: Cadenhead

Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky

Age: 17 years

ABV: 54.1%

Maturation: Bourbon Hogshead

Bottles: 252

Price: $126.31 (Specs, 2014)

Availability:  Possibly a few left on the shelves

Sample Source: My own bottle


Linkwood 15 year old – AD Rattray Cask Collection

Next up, a review of another AD Rattray bottling. This time we have a Linkwood 15 year old, and it also comes from their Cask Collection series. This Linkwood 15 year old was distilled 2.04.1998 and bottled on 20.05.2013. It was matured in Hogshead Cask No. 5088 and produced 287 bottles.


The Linkwood distillery is located in Elgin, in the Speyside region. Owned by Diageo, there are very few official releases of Linkwood, instead, most of its production is destined for the Johnnie Walker and White Horse blends. There are occasions to find independent bottlings, like this one, and I’ve tried a few different ones. A while back, The Liquor Hound shared a 28 year old Samaroli bottling that was superb – a big, heavily sherry-influenced bottling that still remains high up on my list of bests.


Review: Linkwood 15 year old, AD Rattray Cask Collection, Distilled 2.04.1998, Bottled 20.05.2013. Hogshead Cask No. 5088, Number of Bottles 287, 54.7% abv


Color: pale, white wine

Nose (N): This is a very austere, very shy whisky. The aromas are delicate. It starts with a very grassy nose, dry grass and hay. There is a note of fresh-soaked barley (if you’ve been on a brewery tour, you’ll remember this smell!) Sandalwood incense, hints of pencil lead, and hand lotion. Unripe Bartlett pears sprinkled with black pepper. Slowly, but subtly, some red apples and bananas peek through. (W):  With the water, there is still a grassy note, but now there was more emphasis on fruits – the red apples and pears, and a hint of black cherry. There was an interesting Mezcal aspect, too, slightly earthy and vegetal. Vanilla is more evident, and also some honey. Certainly, the water opened this one up and made it much more intriguing. 


Taste (N): The high abv brings the heat as the whisky rolls back across the tongue. Quite a bit of fresh lemon juice, tart and biting. Rose water, apple peel, orange pith, and very delicate hint of vanilla bean. This has a “dry” mouthfeel, yet, at the same time, it has a nice viscosity, becoming quite “fat” and dense. However, it remains somewhat closed off by the high abv. (W): I added a few drops of water, then added a little more. All in, I added about a teaspoon of water to a pour slightly under 3/4 oz before I got this one where I wanted it – it swims quite well. With the water, the dominating heat is gone, without losing too much of the rich texture. Water brings out more vanilla, and the red apple and pear notes become more prominent. It retains the lemon tartness through the middle.


Finish: Tart, slightly bitter, lemon, red apples. The addition of water brings this finish to life. The fruits are bigger, the lemon rises and fades, there is a bit of that earthy note, then vanilla sweetness. Good length to this one.  


Overall:  When tasting this one neat, proceed with caution! The abv is very evident in the initial heat, and it really closes off what becomes a very nice whisky. The grassy nature at full abv is muted by water and lets the whisky show more of its personality, bringing out a nice, fruity aspect. Even then, though, this remains austere and delicate. It takes some patience, and the careful addition of water, to bring out its best. This has a great body, especially before water, if you can get past the heat, and a moderately long, enjoyable finish. It does lack some balance and integration, though. 


Rating 83



Region: Speyside

Distillery: Linkwood Distillery, Elgin, Scotland

Bottler: AD Rattray (Ayrshire, Scotland)

Type: Single Malt

Age: 15 years (Distilled 2.04.1998, Bottled 20.05.2013)

ABV: 54.7%

Maturation: Hogshead

Out-turn: 287 bottles

Price: $110 USD (2013)

Availability: ???

Sample Source: My own bottle