Whiskey Review: Woodinville Flagship 100% Rye

Woodinville Whiskey is located in Woodinville, Washington, just a few minutes’ drive north of Seattle. Woodinville is a somewhat anonymous suburb, somewhere along the line the good beverage producers of Washington decided that Woodinville should become Washington’s booziest town; today, it’s home to dozens of tasting rooms for wineries, breweries, and distilleries, making it a popular day trip for Seattleites with a free afternoon and a designated driver.

Like many distilleries in Washington—which, like New York State, has legislation that encourages distillers to source inputs locally—Woodinville Whiskey works primarily with Washington-grown grain. In fact, Woodinville takes that one step further: they source most of their grain from a single farm in Quincy, Washington, and then they take the unusual step of trucking their barreled whiskey over the mountains back to that farm, where it ages in the more extreme temperatures of the eastern side of the Cascades.

Woodinville’s standard whiskey lineup includes an excellent straight bourbon (ADI’s 2016 Whiskey of the Year), a straight American whiskey, and a 100% rye whiskey. Until recently, the rye was the only Woodinville offering that was still aged in small barrels (they call them “microbarrels”), where it spent “less than four years.” After tasting it earlier this year, my guess is that it spent significantly less than four years, because its oak character was relatively restrained for a small barrel product.

This October, however, Woodinville released a brand new version of its 100% rye they’re calling Woodinville Flagship 100% Rye Whiskey that spent at least five years in full-sized barrels. Local fans camped out the night before the release, an indication of Woodinville’s popularity among Washington state whiskey fans. Like the previous Woodinville Rye, the new Flagship rye is made from a 100% rye mash bill, with no wheat or malted barley. 

Woodinville Flagship 100% Rye Whiskey

Woodinville Flagship 100% Rye Whiskey. Photo by Margarett Waterbury. Image copyright The Whiskey Wash.

Tasting Notes: Woodinville Flagship 100% Rye Whiskey

Vital Stats: 100% rye, 90 proof, about $55 for a 750ml bottle, no age statement on label but the distillery says the whiskey is five to six years old

Appearance: Medium gold

Nose: There’s an appealing balance between fruit, herb, and spice here, with notes of blackberry and cherry mingling with menthol, cedar, and wet coastal forest. Slightly varnish-y notes of wet paint and linseed oil are also present.

Palate: Relatively mild and somewhat bourbon-like, I get movie theater notes of root beer, candy corn, and cream soda as well as toasted almonds, cinnamon stick, mushroom, wet soil, and even hops alongside quite a bit of oak tannin. The finish is moderate in length, with a sustained earthiness. There’s more tingle to the mouth feel than I’d expected from 90 proof.

Final Thoughts & Score:

Score: 86/100

I tasted Woodinville’s five-year-old bourbon earlier this year, and I thought it was one of the best, most credible craft bourbons I’d ever had. Their new Woodinville Flagship 100% Rye is a good companion, and like the bourbon, tastes well and intentionally made. It’s not the boldest, most assertive rye I’ve ever tasted, and perhaps there’s more oak tannin here than I might desire in a perfect world, but overall, good stuff.

Editor’s Note: A sample of this whiskey was provided to us by those behind it. The Whiskey Wash, while appreciative of this, keeps full independent editorial control over this article.

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Margarett Waterbury

Margarett Waterbury is the author of Scotch: A Complete Introduction to Scotland's Whiskies and a full-time freelance writer and editor. Her work has appeared in Whisky Advocate, Food and Wine, Spirited Magazine, Artisan Spirit, Edible Seattle, Sip Northwest, Civil Eats, Travel Oregon, Artisan Spirit, and many other publications. She is...