I've been trying to track down a bottle of this stuff for a couple years now. When I was first finding my way into bourbon, I really enjoyed Angel's Envy, and I was told that I had to try their rye. But now matter how often I looked, it simply wasn't anywhere. For years I've known I've wanted to try this one and, as far as I knew, it didn't even exist.
But, on my way back home from out of town one day, having some time to spare before I had to be anywhere, I made a few extra stops at whatever liquor stores I found on my way, and in the first one I visited, there they were, about ten bottles of the stuff, just sitting on the shelf like any other bottle. I had to look twice to make sure I was seeing what I saw. Perhaps it's just the area I live in or the stores I go to, but according to the clerk, it wasn't any special release, they just happened to get a batch in a few days prior. So, though the price is a bit steep at around $70, I didn't hesitate to grab a bottle.
When I opened the bottle, I was punched in the face by the cooked/caramelized sugar smell that filled the room. This is one of the most pungent whiskeys I've ever had in that respect. The nose had a little bit of spice behind it, a cinnamon sort of scent, but the burnt sugar smell was overwhelming. I knew instantly I had something on my hands that was completely different than anything I've had before.
I've had other whiskeys finished in rum casks before, like the Balvenie Caribbean Cask, but with this one, the rum casks had a far greater influence on the whiskey. While the typical vanilla and cinnamon spice came through, as would be expected from your typical rye, it was incredibly sweet, almost mouth-puckering-ly so. The caramelized sugar smell that seemed to explode out of the bottle upon opening had a flavor to match, which seemed to overwhelm every other flavor.
Behind that sugar, though, were still noticeable butterscotch notes, along with cereal or bread flavors that offered a little bit to soften the sugar rush on the back end. As I made my way through the bottle, the flavor evened out a bit, and it really took on a Butterfinger-type flavor, combining the sweet flavors of chocolate, butterscotch and brown sugar.
I was surprised at how much influence the rum casks had on this rye, as rye typically is a bold-flavored whiskey to begin with. At first I wasn't sold that I enjoyed it. However, that may have been more the shock at the sugary nature of this whiskey. I eventually found that behind that up-front sugar are some really enjoyable flavors that provide a nice complement, and this is a pretty complex finished rye with a lot to offer.