Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by the party behind it. 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 in this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.
If one were asked to distill America’s self-mythology down to a mere three words, individuality, newness, and reinvention would make for a fairly accurate and descriptive trio. Yet for all our tendency toward recency bias, there is something in the restoration of a long dormant multi-generational family legacy that strikes a peculiarly American chord in the imagination. And in the annals of American craftsmanship, few arenas are more infused with the aura and tradition of filial legacy than the craft of whiskey making.
So when Corky Taylor, 4th generation scion of original owner Henry Kraver got ‘bored with retirement’ and decided to re-open the doors of Kentucky Peerless Distillery, which had been shuttered for a century due to prohibition, there was always going to be something nostalgia-tinged about whatever they released. The fact that Peerless has continuously created whiskeys of excellent stature and value thus far in their short run has made that return not only nostalgic, but a genuine American triumph story. With the recent lease of their ‘High Rye Mash Bill’ Bourbon, Peerless has added another winning chapter to their revival saga.
Kentucky Peerless High Rye Bourbon is the first new product with a wholly unique mash bill that Peerless has released since their original bourbon and rye expressions. As with previous releases Peerless won’t divulge the exact mash bill, deeming it proprietary. However, in response to an email inquiry, Peerless COO Cordell Lawrence told me that the high rye mash contains “over two times the rye content” as their standard issue bourbon mash bill.
And while it is a unique grain blend, the High Rye Mash Bill Bourbon maintains some of the signature characteristics of the two aforementioned award-winning releases. Namely, the grains are all milled, cooked, fermented, distilled and barreled in-house at the same location. Likewise, it’s all sweet mash , there is no chill-filtration, and the barrels are a level-three char and burnt without the use of fuel, all of which lead to a final product that is bursting with flavor, depth, and a natural cleanliness that is all too rare in even many higher end American whiskeys today.
As we have noted here at The Whiskey Wash before, since bursting (back) onto the scene in May 2017 with their Rye Whiskey release, Peerless has racked up an impressive array of accolades and awards for their various expressions. Based on my impressions, the new high rye release figures to have a promising shot at continuing the brand’s track record of plaudits. Aged from 5 ½ to 6 years, and bottled at barrel strength–in this case a hearty but well-balanced 110.5 proof– this high rye expression is boisterous, playful, has considerable depth of flavor, and is remarkably quaffable.
Whereas many overproof offerings are begging for a drop or two of water to fully reveal themselves, Peerless comes ready to disclose all its robust character without the slightest dilution. Overall, this is simply an outstanding addition to the small but impressive line of Peerless offerings.
Tasting Notes: Peerless High Rye Bourbon
Vital Stats: 110.5 proof; 5 ½- 6 years old; 750 ml; $135.99
Appearance: This baby is DARK, the color of burnt caramel with a medium viscosity.
Nose: The first pass is intensely aromatic with gorgeous floral character, including a surprising honeysuckle note wrapped around some dark plum. Short time in the glass reveals candied orange peel, leather, subtle tobacco, and chocolate. About an hour in the glass gave way to an underlying tapestry of wet clay, sweet corn, and caramel.
Palate: Lots of wood here up front along with some soft oak tannin, layered with hints of cocoa, butterscotch and slightly smokey leather. Heavy, silky mouthfeel and medium-long finish that is all back-loaded with cinnamon and other baking spices, girded with a deep dark chocolate note.