Whiskey Review: Twisted Manzanita Rebellious Rye - The Whiskey Wash

Whiskey Review: Twisted Manzanita Rebellious Rye

It’s been said that whiskey is what beer wants to be when it grows up, so it isn’t far-fetched that a brewery would expand into a distillery. In San Diego, California, Twisted Manzanita Spirits did just that under head distiller, J.L. Pitman. Pitman said, “It all started because we wanted to make a better rye whiskey. I didn’t feel that rye whiskey had been done justice.”  Twisted Manzanita Spirits Rebellious Rye was the end result.

Rye whiskey has been seeing a phenomenal resurgence over the past few years, but you don’t see a lot of whiskies using malted rye. Malting causes the grain to convert unfermentable starch into smaller fermentable compounds, which yeast consume to make alcohol during the fermentation phase of whiskey distillation. Although brewing or distilling with rye grain can be difficult, it does impart a wonderful spiciness to the flavor profile of beer and whiskey. 

After Twisted Manzanita Spirits Rebellious Rye is distilled, it is then put into refurbished red wine barrels. Even after being taken apart and cleaned, red wine still clings to the staves. Twisted  Manzanita Spirits then chars the reassembled barrels at a level three. The aged rye whiskey gets its nice dark color from this process.

In 2016, shortly after Twisted Manzanita Spirits shut down the brewery side of things to focus on distilling, they called it quits for good and filed for bankruptcy.

Twisted Manzanita Rebellious Rye

Twisted Manzanita Rebellious Rye (image via Courtney Kristjana/The Whiskey Wash)

Tasting Notes: Twisted Manzanita Spirits Rebellious Rye

Vital Stats: 47.5% ABV, 95 proof. Rye malt mash. 750mL $33 to $40.

Appearance: Burnt sugar/dark caramel.

Nose: There’s a few layers here. The first begins with a combination of oak and sweet, tangy marzipan or almond. The second layer is toasted marshmallow over a bonfire. Throughout is a breeze of ocean air.

Palate: A soft mouthfeel for a whiskey with a seemingly harsh flavor profile. Imagine an older gentleman who’s worn out his favorite pair of brown leather loafers; lots of leather, cigar and pipe tobacco. There is a faint salinity, which achieves the mild taste of sweaty sock. Cedar and black pepper notes also come through, but if not picked up this combination comes off as rubber tires.

The Takeaway

The complex flavor profile of Twisted Manzanita Spirits Rebellious Rye is so intriguing. With each sip, you unwrap all of its characteristics and are confounded by how enjoyable it is. It makes a great Old Fashioned, or Manhattan. Drank neat, or on a big cube, guarantees to bring up memories of maybe your dad, granddad, or whomever. If this bottle of rye was a fictional character, I'm pretty sure it would be Peter Falk's Columbo.

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Courtney Kristjana