Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by Laws Whiskey House. 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.
Knowing where the grain comes from to make a whiskey is not a fad. Many distilleries are turning to small family farms for local grain or heirloom varieties. Laws Whiskey House in Denver, Colorado, depends on the Cody Family Farm to get their winter rye. The rye grown in the San Luis Valley develops a distinct flavor profile due to the unique climate and soil.
The San Luis Valley sits 7,500 feet above sea level in south central Colorado. The atmosphere is arid, dry, and crisp. Rye loves the dramatic highs and lows in temperature, which stays around 85 F during the day and 40 F at night. The sweet, nutty, and peppery flavors from the Cody Family Farm winter rye comes from the soil in particular. The makeup of the soil causes the grain as it grows to build protein structures.
Law Whiskey House also touts the first bottled-in-bond whiskies in Colorado. Although the required age for bottled-in-bond whiskey is four years, Laws aged their San Luis Valley Straight Rye Bonded for seven years. The three years extra aging should pull out the bold flavors of the craft malt.
Let’s see how the grain-to-glass process at Laws Whiskey House impacted the San Luis Valley Straight Rye Bonded.
Vital Stats: 50% ABV. 100 proof. Bottled-in-Bond straight rye aged 7 years. Mash bill consists of 95% heirloom rye of a single season from the San Luis Valley and 5% heirloom barley. 750ml $60.
Nose: When straight out of the bottle, the rye started off like soggy Cinnamon Toast Crunch. With a little more room to breathe, the dram has delightful vanilla bean and Moroccan mint. Lemon oil and anise really come through in the middle. Bright red maraschino cherry rounds out the end. However, the finish has a whiff of fresh cut grass.
Palate: The rye is very spicy, and not because of the ABV. Even more so, the whiskey has a sour taste to it and is overpowered with straw. Once past that bit, vanilla ice cream covered in pralines and dusted with cocoa powder lingers on the breath. The mint is there, too.
The amount of spice in Law Whiskey House San Luis Valley Straight Rye Bonded (Batch 3) can be polarizing. At times, it was pretty dry with just cinnamon, but then other times it had full, complex flavor. Batch 3 is a year older than Batch 2, and maybe the extra aging past the standard BIB four years is unnecessary. But if you like that bold rye spice or are looking for something more to your ryes, then this is for you.
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Courtney Kristjana is a leading whiskey taster in the country. She left a career in Gerontology after an article on Heather Greene inspired her to follow her passion for whiskey. She is studying to become a Master of Scotch and someday hopes she is nominated for the Keepers of the...