Whiskey Review: Woodinville Harvest Release 2022

, | January 22, 2023

Editor’s Note: This whisk(e)y 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. 

Woodinville Whiskey out of Washington state last year introduced their 12th Harvest Release, a 100% rye whiskey finished for four months in Portuguese Ruby Port barrels. The color of the whiskey is dark, some of the darkest I’ve ever seen. Based in the greater Seattle metropolitan area, Woodinville has made quite a name for itself over the years, garnering a litany of awards and media references.

What helps make this whiskey unique is the ruby port finish. Ruby port is the most extensively produced, and therefore widely available, style of port wine. Port is actually a very specific type of wine, and to be true port it must come from the Portuguese Douro Valley. Traditionally port is a dessert wine because of the robust sweet flavors.

Ruby port has a bright and vibrant color, which pairs nicely with the young age of the wine used. The aging process for these wines is considerably shorter compared to reserve port wines. However, the expedient nature of a ruby port means potentially a larger volume of barrels for whiskey companies to use.

The impact of a port cask on whiskey depends on the original type of port, which feels obvious. Ruby port is traditionally sweet, and should impart a bright element to the rye spice of this whiskey. According to the founders, this finishing cask adds “a viscous mouthfeel that grips your tongue preparing it for flavors of orange marmalade, dark cherry, vanilla bean, meshed with a peppery spiciness and honey sweetness.”

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Although finishing casks are nothing new in the whiskey world, this reviewer is encouraged by the number of craft distillers trying their hand at it. In the world of Scotch, finishing in different barrels is an art form. Blending together the perfect flavors to mature in the essence of wine, tequila, rum, or bourbon requires an extremely deft hand. I am excited to try what Woodinville has to offer. With that we turn to the glass.

Woodinville Harvest Release 2022 review

Woodinville Harvest Release 2022 (image via Charles Steele/The Whiskey Wash)

Tasting Notes: Woodinville Harvest Release 2022

Vital Stats: Woodinville 100% Rye Whiskey finished in Ruby Port. 45% ABV MSRP $69.95.

Appearance: Dark, like rich mahogany. Slow close legs.

Nose: Pecan pie, sweet cherries, deep red wine, this nose is vibrant and brings a punch. The fruit sweetness gives way to more baking notes and dark brown sugar, whiffs of rich cocoa, and cinnamon bark.

Taste: Dry, oily in the mouth. Coats the teeth evenly and nicely. We absolutely get the young port wine in this – the dark red grapes are on full display. We get notes of the cinnamon bark, baking spices, rye berries, figs, and vibrant rich floral notes. The finish lasts! Although it starts off a touch tart it holds nicely with the rye notes of the base whiskey. The rye is mellowed well by the port wine, and the red grapes play well with the grain.

Whiskey Review: Woodinville Harvest Release 2022
4

Summary

This is well balanced, and very approachable. The rye whiskey base is well crafted and aged carefully before being placed in port cask. There is only a momentary clash of flavors between the grain and grapes at about the mid palate. As we transition from the front end sweetness of the wine into the depth of the grain, we get a momentary imbalance. That isn’t enough to take away from how fun this whiskey is.

The depth of rye spice is really complimented by the sugary sweetness of the port wine, which allows the combo to cover the other’s weakness. Overall, if you can get one, it’s worth having!

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Charles Steele

Charles Steele is a Portland area attorney, born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. His legal education affords him an analytical approach to understanding whiskey and other aged spirits. Traditionally a legal writer, freelancing for The Whiskey Wash will prove a unique opportunity to flex his writing skills. Although he...