Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Four Kings 2015 Craft Rye Whiskey Collaboration

- $50
- 80 Proof
- Bottle #352/800
- Blend of 30 gallons each from Corsair Distillery, FEW Spirits, Journeyman Distillery and Mississippi River Distilling Company

Two years ago there was a lot of excitement surrounding the inaugural collaboration released by these four craft distilleries in conjunction with Whisky Week Chicago 2014. The 2014 Collaboration flew off the shelves at Binny's (the exclusive retailer for the release), and it got pretty good reviews overall.

Although the 2015 Collaboration had some hype, it appeared the novelty wore off. Here it is almost April, the 2016 Collaboration is on its way, and you can still find bottles of the 2015 release sitting on shelves. Perhaps its due in part to the fact that its a rye whiskey, not as in demand as bourbon, but whatever the reason, these bottles simply did not fly off the shelves as with their first release (and the 2016 is a blended single malt--I'll be curious how that one does).

I, however, was excited by the fact that they released a rye, having enjoyed the ryes offered by each of these distilleries, and I grabbed a bottle as soon as they hit the shelf. It sat in my bunker for quite a while, though, before I eventually got around to opening it. Other bottles just kept calling to me, but eventually this one made its way into my open bottle rotation.

The nose is the traditional cinnamon and brown sugar you'd expect from a rye. It certainly smelled sweet, and that was no facade.

On first sip, the sweetness was really all I could notice. The brown sugar was heavy up front. With each subsequent sip, however, it appeared to settle a bit, allowing the other flavors to come through, including black pepper and vanilla with a substantial sweet cinnamon flavor on the back end. It was, indeed, very sweet, but it offered a decent amount of spice to go with.

As I made my way through my bottle, however, I kept hitting on a flavor that I couldn't place, but once I did place it, I had a hard time noticing anything but that flavor: Oatmeal cookie. Honestly, before I placed it I wasn't sure if I liked it or not, and as I type this I'm still not sure. It was . . . interesting? Occasionally it seemed to be complemented by a crisp green apple flavor. Eventually that sweet oatmeal cookie flavor gave way to a noticeable coffee flavor that brought in a bit of bitterness.

I think I liked this bottle more at the beginning than I did at the end. Ultimately, I was left underwhelmed. That being said, I'm sure to pick up the 2016 Collaboration at some point, as well as future releases. It'd be fun to try a blend of cask strength bourbons!

Grade: C-

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