Whiskey Review: One Eight Distilling Rock Creek Rye - The Whiskey Wash

Whiskey Review: One Eight Distilling Rock Creek Rye

One Eight Distilling Rock Creek Rye WhiskeyWhile rye whiskey still represents a tiny portion of the whiskey market, its popularity is growing fast. In 2015, the rye category grew almost four times faster than bourbon did, indicating that rye may be starting to nip at bourbon’s heels in terms of popularity. That’s led to an explosion in craft rye brands, including this one, One Eight Distilling’s Rock Creek Rye.

Recently launched in November 2016, Rock Creek Rye is the first grain-to-glass rye whiskey made in Washington D.C. since Prohibition. One Eight Distilling co-owners Sandy Wood and Alex Laufer settled on the name “One Eight Distilling” in reference to Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution, which decreed the establishment of a district to serve as capital of the United States. Rock Creek Rye is named after Rock Creek Park, which in 1890 became the third national park established in the U.S. (following only Yellowstone and Mackinac National Parks), and at the time was home to numerous farms and historic mills.

These mills ground locally grown corn, wheat, rye and other crops, supplying small local whiskey distilleries until Prohibition. Today, only Peirce Mill, a water-powered grist mill, remains in Rock Creek Park. The delicate leaf design imprinted on the Rock Creek Rye label is an interpretation of a leaf from the tulip poplar tree, which can be found in Rock Creek Park.

Wood, a former attorney, and Laufer, a former scientist and lifelong foodie, became friends in college and business partners years later, combining their shared love of – among other things – whiskey, to found One Eight Distilling in 2014. And they’ve done so to the benefit of whiskey lovers — Rock Creek Rye is a unique and beautifully crafted rye.

Tasting Notes: One Eight Distilling Rock Creek Rye

Vital Stats: While the specific mash bill breakdown isn’t publicly known, Rock Creek Rye is distilled from a high malted rye mash bill that also includes rye and corn — each sourced from a farm in North Carolina, Virginia and Kentucky, respectively. Rock Creek Rye is then small-batch distilled in a copper pot still, aged in new American oak barrels (One Eight Distilling has kept the amount of time under wraps) and bottled at 94 proof.

Appearance: Both in the bottle and poured into a glass, Rock Creek Rye shows a hearty copper with an amber hue, revealing viscous legs when swirled.

Nose: A first whiff from a pour offers a preliminary tease of intense heat, which dissipates to a rich cherry cordial fruitiness, and a lingering suggestion of molasses.

Palate: Upon first sip, it’s this certainly does not taste or feel like a young rye. More like a bourbon than a rye, with malty notes, Rock Creek Rye fills the mouth with a rich roundness and fullness of flavor, including notes of vanilla bread pudding. Its very smooth finish leaves you with a lingering whisper of maple candy without any cloying sugariness.

The Takeaway

Surprising, complex, balanced, dynamic. Rock Creek Rye is superb, and stands out among today’s typical crowd of craft ryes in bars and home collections alike across the country. It’s richer than Templeton, and delicately smoother compared to the High West ryes (which isn’t to say those aren’t great in their own right). Rock Creek Rye is currently listed at an MSRP of $50, and feels worth the price.

4.5
User Rating 3.12 (17 votes)
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