I will be honest right now and tell you before I got this gig reviewing whiskies I thought that rye whiskey tasted like rye bread. That’s right. Feel free to write in and request I hand in my Glencairn glass due to that peek behind the curtain. But isn’t it good for the reviewer to admit something that some readers might have thought…at one point? That’s the goal of writing, right? To put to words what many of us think but would never say, or even do?
Regardless, rye is delightful, and that is a piece of knowledge I am glad to have picked up at nearly 40 and now want to crow from the rooftops. (And if I’m drinking rye, I hope those rooftops have guardrails of some kind.) Rye can be spicy, creamy, savory, and sweet–all in one glass. It can serve perfectly in a Manhattan or on its own.
Rye, I kind of dig you.
And it looks like Barrell Bourbon feels the same. One of my favorite non-producing sourcers and one that’s gotten a lot of positive reviews on this site, Barrell recently came out with a rye: Barrell Rye Batch 001. This batch of rye was made by combining sweeter malted barley rye barrels with spicier high-rye barrels. Like their Barrell Bourbon Batch 13, this rye comes from both Indiana and Tennessee. Also like Barrell’s bourbons, this too is cask strength—in this case, 117 proof.
Because so many of Barrell’s bourbons have been so tasty, I was excited to see if their rye would follow suit.
Tasting Notes: Barrell Rye Batch 001
Vital stats: About $80; distilled and aged in Indiana and Tennessee, crafted and bottled in Kentucky; aged for four years, six months in American white oak; mash bill of rye, corn, and malted barley.
Appearance: Golden honey, a lit match that’s burning down to your fingertips. In the glass, it appears almost silky. Kind of sexy, actually–if you like rye that much.
Nose: A high proof smell…with a sweet undertone. Some smells of autumn, too: hay, a brisk October breeze, a caramel-coated honeycrisp apple.
Palate: Ok, so it’s got that high-proof octane. And like many ryes, it comes in a little hot, then spicy. But then…but then! It it warms to a desserty sweetness, without being sugary or saccharine. Sweet couples with umami. Honey on toast. Marshmallows. And a fruity dessert with some heft: bananas foster, lemon merengue pie, the perfectly fired shatter of the sugar crust on a crème brulee.
Barrell Rye 001 is bananas—in a good way! To have all this Willy Wonka kind of delectable surprise in a rye is just delightful. And right out of the gate, no less. It’s a sweet rye but not too sweet. A fantastic and delicate sipper!
User Review3.42 (12 votes)
A decade ago, I traded a 5th floor walkup in Hoboken, NJ for a house in SE Portland and remain grateful for the swap. Portland’s a great whiskey town: It fits the weather and my general mood (even improves it sometimes). I enjoy exploring the many shades of brown liquor...