Whiskey Review: Kozuba and Sons Mr. Rye - The Whiskey Wash

Whiskey Review: Kozuba and Sons Mr. Rye

When the first iPhone came out, it was delivered so as to seem an inevitable evolution rather than the revolution it truly was. Kozuba and Sons Distillery out of St. Petersburg, Florida, has given us something similar with their Mr. Rye Malt Whisky. The development of Mr. Rye falls neatly into intersection of shrewd business practices and an authentic of love of spirits, and Kozuba and Sons has created a product committed to the spirit of craft whiskey production and innovation.

Starting first vodka, Zbigniew “Papa” Kozuba, a biochemist by trade and the company’s master distiller, has since branched out into whiskey production. Zbigniew, 65, started the company as a retirement hobby in Poland in 2005. Zbigniew and his sons then moved from Poland to St. Petersburg with their families in 2014 to set up this newest addition to their operation.

To most, St Petersburg wouldn’t be the obvious fit for a craft distilling. Yet the Kozubas enthusiastically embraced the strategy of targeting local markets, and the region offered favorable business incentives for craft distillers. In recent years, Florida updated its Prohibition-era distilling laws, establishing a new category of distillers for companies distilling 75,000 or fewer gallons per year that allowed them to sell their product onsite as well as through established retail outlets

Kozuba practices the grain to glass philosophy, a style of whiskey production becoming ever more prevalent in craft distilling. This means they handle all parts of the production including milling, mashing, fermenting distilling, aging, blending, and bottling on site.

Mr. Rye pairs the more nuanced and complex flavors of a traditional single malt with the bold spice and energy of rye whiskey.  In the United States, rye whiskey is only required to be 51% rye, whereas Mr Rye is made with 100% rye – and malted rye, to boot.

image via Kozuba & Sons

Tasting Notes: Kozuba and Sons Mr. Rye

Vital Stats: 45% ABV, distilled in copper stills and aged for three years in American oak casks. 750 ML, $49.99 USD

Appearance: Burnished leather with a sparkle akin to apple juice, with medium legs.

Nose: Even keeled and balanced – none of the characteristic rye spice shows up in the nose, but the depth of flavor makes itself known.

Palate: It feels like drinking a scotch, but with more of a kick of sweetness and spice. Flavors of honey, ginger, and pepper contrast with a leathery notes and a long finish. The sometimes harsh and spicy flavors seen in traditional rye whiskeys are smoothed out. A few drops of water opens the flavor up more and pipe tobacco and cinnamon flavors start to emerge.

The Takeaway

I’m excited to see what else Kozuba and Sons comes up with. Mr Rye Malt Whiskey feels as though Kozuba and Sons took a masters level course in the American Whiskey industry and took their findings immediately to market. This highly calculated approach has resulted in an exciting and quality product deserving of a place on the shelf of people looking to get into rye whiskey, or for Scotch drinkers interested in exploring American whiskeys.

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