Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by Brush Creek Distillery. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the buy link towards the bottom of this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.
As I’ve written before, story, narrative and brand voice matter in a crowded liquor market. The ability to craft a clear case for your product, along with a distinct visual that can quickly grab the consumers’ attention, is critical. Brush Creek’s limited release of Railroad Rye Boxcar #1 appears to have three strong elements in its favor: setting, narrative and hook. But does it have the goods inside the bottle? We will of course explore that, but let’s start with the positioning.
First, there is what I will call “authenticity of place.” Brush Creek Distillery is situated southeast of Saratoga, Wyoming, between the Sierra Madre mountain range and the Medicine Bow National Forest. Additionally, it’s located on a 30,000 acre working ranch – albeit one that is also self-described as an “authentic western ranch resort destination,” and “luxury getaway.” The distillery’s on-site barrel barns are themselves located at no less than 7,600 feet of elevation.
Second, there is narrative, which is the product’s story. Brush Creek states that this straight rye release celebrates the creation of the Transcontinental Railroad and the expansion of the American West. Andrew Wason, managing director of Brush Creek Distillery stated, “this project was inspired by the pioneers ahead of us, and like them, we dream big and work tirelessly to push the boundaries in the spirits industry.”
Finally, there is the story’s hook – what makes it unique and how does it grab the consumers’ attention. In the case of the Railroad Rye, 80 barrels were loaded onto a 60-foot Union Pacific rail car and, over the course of a few weeks, traveled approximately 1,200 miles. Upon their return, these barrels were placed in Brush Creek’s on-site barrel barns and allowed to further age over “the course of several seasons.” Then, twelve of those barrels, consisting of two different mash bills, were selected to create this 3,000 bottle limited debut release of the Railroad Rye.
Tasting Notes: Brush Creek Distillery’s Railroad Rye
Vital Stats: Age: No specific age statement beyond a vague mention of “4-6 years” in the product sheet. 104 proof, 52% ABV. Mash bill: an undisclosed blend of two rye whiskeys. 750ML. SRP: $46.99
Appearance: When viewed in my NEAT glass, both against a white/neutral background and then up against a backlight, the rye is a pleasing blend of caramel and medium steeped black tea.
Nose: A fairly straightforward sniff of rye grass, a sweetness that evokes honey and stone fruit, along with a minor hint of allspice.
Palate: From beginning to end, the rye holds court. Along with that central player, the proof comes through with a nice brightness mid-mouth. I taste pepper in equal proportion to a mild plummy semi-sweetness, ending up with a medium finish (and more rye).