Similar to an American whisky, Single Barrel Rye is a flavourful oak aged spirit made using traditional methods and high-quality British grain. A blend of malted rye and barley create a unique blend of malted sweetness, cereal depth and rye spice. The nose is bold toffee and spices with earthy notes, coffee and almost a hint of leather. On the tongue, a deep sweetness starts but without being sticky or cloying before the spicy rye tones begin to sizzle on the palate. A deep bready and hearty taste lingers in the centre of the tongue with a slow diminishing tingle of spicy heat.
Unfamiliar with Rye whisky styles? Start by thinking about an American Bourbon, but not one of those mainstream brands that are only good for cheap club mixers, consider a true small batch Bourbon of quality. Then remove the sticky sweetness of the corn and replace it with the more complex cereal sweetness of malted rye and barley. Finally add in a gentle spicy rye sizzle layered on top. Perfect for drinking neat (yes, with an ice cube) or mixing for superior high-end cocktails.
More familiar with Scottish malt whisky? Welcome to the exciting world of mixed-grain whisky, which I believe has amazing depth of flavour and complex possibilities. By mixing two grains, the underlying spirit already has more going on when put into cask. The multiple flavours then develop in multiple directions while ageing and interacting with the oak. I use a brand-new cask made of American oak for ageing, while Scottish whisky is exclusively aged in reused barrels. In fact, most Scottish whisky is aged in used Bourbon or American Rye casks to capitalise on the complex elements from those mixed grain spirits. Finally, Scottish single malt whisky is almost always bottled as a blend of multiple casks from the warehouse, while my Single Barrel Rye is exactly what it says on the tin.
A single barrel release is a truly unique spirit, one that can be repeated but never exactly duplicated. The spirit had been influenced by the precise wood grain and charring patterns of that individual cask, as well as the temperature and weather during the ageing process. No two barrels of spirit will ever be exactly the same. When this cask 1 release is gone, it will be gone forever. That also means there will be many slightly different variations in future releases to enjoy and explore.
I believe Single Barrel Rye is served best with an ice cube and a comfortable chair. The boldness of a mixed grain whisky develops better at a slightly cooler temperature, so don’t be afraid to experiment with the ice. If water is added, I would recommend only a splash or the flavour may dilute too far.
In cocktails, this spirit truly shines through the mixtures. Classic rye cocktails include the famous Manhattan cocktail first invented in New York City, the classic Whisky Sour, a New Orleans favourite known as the Sazerac, an Old Fashioned, Vieux Carre, the Whisky Highball and literally hundreds of other famous recipes. The depth of flavour and spicy notes of a rye whisky are perfect building blocks for any mixologist to ply their trade.
This is a rare spirit in the UK, but one well worth seeking out. Traditional methods and high-quality ingredients are always a recipe for success, but my Single Barrel Rye truly sits on the top shelf and above.