Whiskey Review: Adirondack High Rye Bourbon

By Will Meek / October 18, 2016

springbrook-hollow-high-rye-bourbonUpstate New York is filled with tiny pockets of beauty and retreat, with rivers, lakes, and green mountains creating the perfect space to get away. It’s also a great place for craft in all forms to emerge from artisans and creators inhabiting the towns that dot the landscape. Springbrook Hollow Farm Distillery is a great example of this. It is snuggled away in Queensbury, New York, and is situated on a farm, surrounded by mountains, the Hudson River, and Lake George. I haven’t visited, but the pictures are straight out of the mind of every dreamer that has fantasized about getting some property outside of town and building a passion project.

Like a lot of craft distillers, Springbrook Hollow Farm values locally grown ingredients, and producing spirits in small batches. The unique element for Springbrook Hollow Farm is the water. They use a local water source that is “unfiltered” and has higher content of calcium and magnesium. Those are the secret water compounds that make a great-tasting cup of light roasted coffee, and they also bring out the malt character in beer. The water is unprocessed and delivered via a wooden pipeline, which has been used since the beginning of the town.

Adirondack High Rye Bourbon was distilled in a custom copper pot, and released at the end of July 2016. It was aged for two years presumably in new charred oak, with a corn, barley, and rye mash bill in unspecified proportions, but with a higher than typical percentage of rye. They age in the smaller barrels customary for many craft distilleries.

Tasting Notes: Adirondack High Rye Bourbon

Vital Stats: 86 proof, aged 2 years, $42 for 750ml.

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Appearance: Burnt orange, crystal clear. They got a lot of color for such a young spirit. Legs are medium and pretty slow. Definitely leaves a lasting skyline on the glass after a swirl.

Nose: Sweet and fruity nose with notes of gingerbread, apples, figs, dates, and a hint of wood.

Palate: Neat, I’m first noticing the heat. It’s fairly powerful all around the mouth and down, coming in hot for 86 proof. Getting some orange, sugar cookie, and oak mingling with the burn, and a touch of bitterness. Not too complex, which is expected given the age. Alcohol dominates the clean and drying finish, which is characteristic of higher levels of rye in my experience.

With a couple drops of water this thing really opens up. The sweetness takes center stage and the heat becomes warming. It also kind of reminds me of creme brule. There is a more pleasant finish, but it still evaporates quickly.

Going up to 25% water smooths the whole thing out, but flattens the dynamics of the sweetness. Even at this level there’s still a bite, and bitterness seems more pronounced. A couple drops of water gave the best experience.

Final Thoughts: For a two-year-old spirit, this is solid. It wasn’t really distinctive, but the intensity of the heat, that orangy cookie blend, and the clean finish got my attention. Like a lot of the newer craft distilleries doing whiskey, more time is going to really bring complexity and sophistication, but at this age, it’s still a nice pour. Closing your eyes and imagining that farmhouse on a crisp fall afternoon while having a sip is highly recommended.

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