Whiskey Review: 45th Parallel Distillery New Richmond Rye - The Whiskey Wash

Whiskey Review: 45th Parallel Distillery New Richmond Rye

New Richmond Rye45th Parallel Distillery, a “grain to glass” and “handcrafted” distillery located in western Wisconsin less than an hour from Minneapolis, has been producing various spirits since opening its doors in 2007.

While 45th Parallel Distillery launched with a focus on vodka, founder and owner Paul Werni has since expanded its repertoire to also feature other spirits, including several whiskies. Their entrance into whiskey production began with distilling contracts for other brandsnot uncommon in recent years for craft spirit distillers industry-wide – before introducing their own bourbon and rye. This pattern is on trend with that of many craft distillers around the country, and in keeping with the seemingly ever-growing popularity of these spirits.

With 2013 came the debut of 45th Parallel Distillery’s New Richmond Rye. Similar to 45th Parallel Distillery being named for its latitudinal position – one shared with areas including Yellowstone National Park and, interestingly, France’s Burgundy and Bordeaux regions – New Richmond Rye is named after the town (you guessed it: New Richmond) in which the distillery is located.

In that vein, Werni has emphasized locality and minimization of waste through his distillery’s production practices. The distillery’s “Circle of Production” is maintained within “an eight mile stretch of rural road from farm to distillery and back.” that stretch encompasses Rusmar Farms, which grows the grain; the 45th Parallel Distillery, which distills the grain; and an Angus beef farm, where cattle consume the spent grain.

Tasting Notes: New Richmond Rye

Vital Stats: The mash bill is 65% rye, complemented by a mix of corn and barley, with grains sourced from the nearby six-generational, family-owned Rusmar Farms. Aged for a minimum of two years in new charred American oak barrels, New Richmond Rye is bottled at 92 proof (sometimes more, by a few tenths of a decimal) and priced on average around $46-50.

Appearance: In the bottle as well as once poured, New Richmond Rye has a soft golden hue.

Nose: A whiff of apple cinnamon is first apparent when swirling the rye in a glass, with a hint of coffee toffee trailing at the end of the scent.

Palate: Gentle spice fills and coats the mouth, with a pleasant warmth that lingers after swallowing. Notes of flambeed banana give way to a soft, slightly spearminty coolness. An aftertaste of a very dark honey comes through, but without any overt sweetness.

Final Thoughts and Score:

stars-3Off-dry and simple without being one-note, this quite enjoyable rye is an easy neat sipper. Adding a rock or two of course cools the temperature of the liquid, yet somehow also brings out a bit more bite in the spice. And, simple though it may be, New Richmond Rye does have enough complexity and versatility to hold its own in a cocktail, like a rye Manhattan or perhaps in Wisconsin’s “unofficial” state cocktail.