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Two James Catcher's Rye

OVERALL
RATING

Whiskey Review: Two James Catcher's Rye

Tasting Notes:

About:
Appearance:
Nose:
Cherry-forward with an end whiff of burnt orange and light Christmas spices (particularly, clove). All in all, it smells like a delicious Port wine.
Palate:
Watery-mouth feel and a strongly burnt flavor, almost gasoline-like, with a bit of extra spicy peppercorn. Minimal to no sweetness, like a punch in the face. Conclusion: To be frank, the taste was a bit off, and that is putting it lightly. It was disappointing considering the nose was lovely and the company itself seems positive and purposeful. However, it is not an all out no-go, it just needs some curbing. I would not drink this straight, but I can say it is good with an artisanal vermouth in a Manhattan. Plus, the bottle is unique and it would make a nice gift for a book (or Detroit) lover, even if the price tag is a bit steep for the value. FINAL SCORE: 70/100 [SHOP FOR A BOTTLE OF TWO JAMES CATCHER’S RYE]
Finish:
Comments:

Two James Catcher's RyeTerroir is not just a word for the wine world anymore. Across the food and beverage industry, companies are looking to capture the taste of the region by using local-only ingredients to impart a nuanced flavor profile that points to the location of origin.

More and more, alcoholic beverages are embracing this movement. In Michigan, you have Virtue Cider – which touts ciders made from 100% Michigan apples – Bell’s Brewing – which produces barley on its 80-acre Michigan farm – and now Two James distillery, the first legal distillery in Detroit since prohibition.

Two James makes Catcher’s Rye Whiskey (a play on the book, Catcher in the Rye) by distilling from 100% Michigan rye and pure water from the Great Lakes. A sense of place (of both Michigan and Detroit) is imprinted in the DNA of Two James.

The distillery opened in 2013, right as Detroit declared bankruptcy. But bankruptcy did not stop artists from flocking to the city because of cheap rent and open spaces available for art studio conversation. Numerous arts foundations continue to pour money into the city. Two James co-founder Peter Bailey sees his company as squarely part of this revitalization movement: “I’m a pragmatist… I can either make zero impact on the city over the long term or a positive one. I choose positive.”

One unique feature of Two James is that they seem transparent about ingredient sourcing, at least based on the information the distillers sent us:

We formed a relationship with a local farmer, Kevin Wing from Wing Farms in Ann Arbor, who grows the majority of our rye. We also receive rye grain from a farm that we have family connections with located in the lush soil of Ludington, Michigan. We feel that the terroir of Michigan provides an incredibly delicious, complex and unique flavor profile. We look forward to developing this flavor profile that we hope becomes synonymous with Michigan and the upper-Midwest as more people have the opportunity to taste our delicious rye. 

Two James’ Catcher’s Rye Whiskey is one of nine products the distillery has released, including everything from vodka to absinthe. Catcher’s Rye Whiskey is aged for a minimum of two years in traditional, charred new American oak 53 gallon barrels. It is 98.8 proof (49.4%) and sells for around $60. Two James distillery also offers tours and has an on-site tasting room.

Tasting Notes: Two James Catcher’s Rye

Color: Clear, dark orange.

Nose: Cherry-forward with an end whiff of burnt orange and light Christmas spices (particularly, clove). All in all, it smells like a delicious Port wine.

Palate: Watery-mouth feel and a strongly burnt flavor, almost gasoline-like, with a bit of extra spicy peppercorn. Minimal to no sweetness, like a punch in the face.

Conclusion:         

To be frank, the taste was a bit off, and that is putting it lightly. It was disappointing considering the nose was lovely and the company itself seems positive and purposeful. However, it is not an all out no-go, it just needs some curbing. I would not drink this straight, but I can say it is good with an artisanal vermouth in a Manhattan. Plus, the bottle is unique and it would make a nice gift for a book (or Detroit) lover, even if the price tag is a bit steep for the value.

FINAL SCORE: 70/100 [SHOP FOR A BOTTLE OF TWO JAMES CATCHER’S RYE]

Natalie Padilla

Natalie is a food & beverage analyst with Watershed Communications in Portland, Oregon. She has been involved with the f&b world for many years, first as a culinary arts columnist with The Harvard Crimson, at numerous start-ups (wine distributor, as well as artisan cheeseboard maker), and now as an ethnographic research with Watershed. She is interested most in the story behind a product and the culture around it. On the weekend she loves to cook, yoga, trail run, and check out what's new in the art scene.

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