Whiskey Review: Mississippi River Distilling Cody Road Rye

Mississippi River Distilling Cody Road RyeEditor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us a free sample to review by the party behind it. The Whiskey Wash, while appreciative of this, did keep full independent editorial control over this article.

Yes, this is my third week in a row reviewing whiskeys from LeClaire, Iowa’s Mississippi River Distilling Company. Cody Road Bourbon and Cody Road Bourbon Single Barrel both offered tantalizing surprises, so I expected the unexpected yet again with Cody Road Rye.

What makes these Mississippi River products special comes down to three factors: 1) they’re typically young—aged briefly, but in half-size barrels, increasing the oak’s impact; 2) they highlight the value of fresh grains from farms within a half hour’s drive of the distillery; and 3) the distillers—Ryan and Garrett Burchett—are eager to offer something different, something we haven’t tasted before.

Cody Road Rye is yet another example of the Burchett brothers’ penchant for going against—or in this case with—the grain. Whereas rye whiskeys typically come across as spicy and robust, this one’s youth reveals rye’s true floral qualities. That’s not to say it’s without any zing, but the spiciness you might expect appears only after you’ve experienced the grain’s milder, fruitier side.

Without a label, one might not guess on first sip that this is a rye. But on second sip, one recognizes the fresh grain sweetness as something other than corn or wheat. In fact, it’s 100% rye, all from a family farm a few miles north of the distillery. This, as it turns out, is what rye tastes like before spending too many summers languishing in a barrel. The subtle sweetness can only be described as pleasant. But it’s complex as well—a layer of rich, darker flavors is revealed on the finish and remains present on subsequent sips.

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Tasting Notes:

Vital Stats: 80 proof. Aged one year. 100% rye. $30-35.

Appearance: Light amber. Long legs.

Nose: Very mild. Apricot and wildflowers. You can detect a note of black pepper if you’re looking for it, but otherwise, it’s hidden under sweeter scents.

Palate: Also very gentle. You’ll first notice fruit—Honeycrisp, apricot, pear—then fresh grass and Champagne. Ice or water only dilute the flavor.

Finish: This is where Cody Road Rye reveals its complexity. On the finish, oak and black pepper arise, tingling the back of the mouth and rising to one’s nose.


Cody Road Rye is simply lovely: fresh, sweet, gentle, and surprisingly precocious on the finish. I’m delighted to taste this youthful side of rye, which is often lost in more haggard drams. This one’s friendly, unassuming, and warm—all smiles.

I wouldn’t use it in cocktails where the mild flavors will likely vanish. Sip it neat and share. While it may not meet the expectations of those demanding something more brash, it’s hard to imagine anyone with an open mind finding fault with such a pleasant dram.