Whiskey Review: Redemption “Ancients” 18-Year-Old Rye

High-end rye is having a serious moment. First Lock Stock & Barrel, then WhistlePig’s Black Prince, and now this, Redemption 18-Year-Old Rye, a member of Redemption’s “Ancients” series, which also includes just 18 bottles of a 36-year-old bourbon. The 18-year-old rye represents the oldest Redemption Rye ever released.

The Redemption Rye brand is owned by Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits. All of its whiskeys, including its flagship bottling, Redemption Rye, are distilled at the MGP Distillery in Indiana, and its rye whiskeys typically showcase MGP’s famous 95% rye/5% malt mash bill.

This stuff was distilled in the same place in 1998, back when Seagrams still operated the facility, but the specifics of the mash bill aren’t clear. It’s bottled at cask strength, around 55% alcohol. According to Tom Steffanci, president of Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits, the bottling is “a reflection of our obsession with rye and showcases the ageability of rye.”

Suggested retail pricing of $400 per bottle places this rye squarely in the super-duper-ultra-extreme premium category (yes, DISCUS, you have my permission to include that new price point category in your next economic briefing). The packaging underscores that upscale vibe, with a square shape, a fancy metal label, and an impressionistic spray of rye heads sprawling across the surface. Let’s see if the contents match the bottle’s beauty.

Redemption "Ancients" 18-Year-Old Rye

Tasting Notes: Redemption “Ancients” 18-Year-Old Rye

Vital stats: 18 years old, 54.95% alcohol. Suggested pricing of $400, but currently selling for even more.

Appearance: Warm amber with a watery meniscus

Nose: A blousy burst of dill, mint, salt, and wet paint starts things off on a pickly note, but that’s not the whole story. The nose quickly takes a savory turn, with an understated sweetness – no big, flabby notes of vanilla and caramel here—supported by 18 years worth of taut oak spice. A subtle duskiness, aged cedar, and a gentle floral tone combine to make this smell like a very expensive pencil. With water things get lighter, brighter, and a little phosphoric.

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Palate: Dense, sweet, concentrated, a parade of bold flavors: Menthol, dill, licorice, ribbons of salted caramel, brown pumpernickel bread, root beer, clove, nutmeg, and candied citrus all flicker through in rapid succession. The oak is firm and grippy, but thankfully nowhere close to overblown. A welcome brightness emerges in the finish, with tangy white grape and a bitter, minty aftertaste that reminds me of Branca Menta. The mouth feel is on the thin side for its age, so water doesn’t do it any real favors.

The Takeaway

This is a grown-up whiskey for grown-up drinkers. Not too oaky, it delivers a lot of rye character with real gravitas. It’s a splurge, for sure, but a worthy one if you’re a serious rye devotee looking for something with big, bold, memorable flavor.

4.5
User Rating 4.5 (4 votes)
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