Whiskey Review: Van Brunt Stillhouse Rye - The Whiskey Wash

Whiskey Review: Van Brunt Stillhouse Rye

Before Prohibition, Brooklyn, New York, was home to numerous distilleries. Several dotted the waterfront of Red Hook, which today is one of this borough’s hippest and quirkiest corners. In the last ten years, several craft distilleries have popped up in Brooklyn, including Van Brunt Stillhouse. Founded in 2012 by an Emmy-nominated, former long-time editor of The Daily Show, Daric Schlesselman, this outfit is eponymously named for Cornelius Van Brunt, a “founding father” of the neighborhood.

Blending classic distilling approaches with modern innovation. Van Brunt Stillhouse focuses on a straightforward and well-rounded line-up of spirits: rum, grappa, moonshine and — of course — whiskey. The latter is Schlesselman’s self-proclaimed passion.

Schlesselman seems less concerned with trend and flair, and more focused on quality and creativity. The distillery has flown a bit under the radar, with other New York City- and Hudson-area distilleries generating more attention comparatively speaking. But the reviews and news that are out there are more than something worth writing home about.

One of its current four whiskey offerings is a rye, which is produced in small and limited batches. As with all Van Brunt Stillhouse spirits, Stillhouse Rye is made from grain sourced from upstate New York farms. Each batch varies from its grain blend to aging length and process, resulting in substantially varied overall profiles. Here, I sampled a bottle labeled as part of Lot #1 of this particular batch.

Van Brunt Stillhouse Rye

Tasting Notes: Van Brunt Stillhouse Rye

Vital Stats: This batch of Stillhouse Rye was distilled from 75% New York rye and 25% malted barley, unfiltered, aged in small American oak casks for under four years, and bottled at 40% ABV in 375 mL bottles. Retail price is $40. (Interestingly, this is also one of the only distilleries I’ve seen include “vegan” as a product descriptor.)

Nose: Overripe peach and chardonnay. Sweet and astringent.

Appearance: Brassy and viscous

Palate: Stillhouse Rye is light, bright and spicy, with a sweet-tart whisper of pluot. Undertones of charred creme brulee and toasted rye bread with jam bubble to the surface. All-spice and black pepper give a little bite, with orange peel on the dry finish.

The Takeaway

Stillhouse Rye is a more perplexing (in a good way) than complex. It is on the younger side and it tastes a bit as such, yet it isn’t lacking in interest, appeal or drinkability. It is overall quite decent, and a likable balance between a more traditional rye with a modern flair, further balanced by the malted barley included in the mash. Others have enjoyed it various cocktails, but I liked it best neat or with one small rock.

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