Sunday, September 11, 2016

Pikesville Straight Rye Whiskey

Price: $50
Proof: 110 Proof
Age: 6 Years (NAS on bottle)
Distiller: Heaven Hill

I held onto this bottle for quite some time before opening it. I'm not really sure why, just seemed to have something else I wanted to open first, and so my Pikesville Rye just sat bunkered, waiting to be loved. But, finally, I decided to crack the seal and give it a try, and before I knew it I was to the bottom of the bottle. I don't know what I was waiting for, because once opened I couldn't stay away from this stuff.

On the nose there's a distinct citrus note to it, very orange-y. Traditional rye flavors are also present, with a strong cinnamon spice, but the orange scent immediately set this apart from other ryes.

On the first sip, the citrus note remained, but it had more bitterness to it, more like orange peel. That bitter orange peel flavor mixed quite well, however, with prominent brown sugar and vanilla notes, making this rye neither too bitter nor too sweet. It found a nice cushion in the middle, like a slot receiver finding a soft spot in a zone defense.

This is certainly a different tasting rye, unlike your traditional ryes, but it still had some of the familiar characteristics I enjoy in a good rye, particularly that cinnamon spice. While it wasn't strong and didn't tickle the back of my throat or make my mouth water like some do, it again was enough to balance very well with all the other flavors going on.

This rye clocks in at 110 proof. Although it's not labeled as barrel proof, there certainly hasn't been much watering down of the product, and that complexity and richness that comes with higher proofs certainly exists in this rye. It's an incredibly easy sipper despite the high proof, and I didn't really notice any burn either in the nose or on the palate. 

Ultimately, this is one of the most well-balanced ryes I've had, giving almost equal doses of citrus, sweet, spicy and bitter. Since its release, Pikesville has been pretty readily available, and, although somewhat in the higher range of ryes, is certainly worth the price, as this is an excellent, albeit kind of different, rye whiskey. It's no wonder that I found my way through this bottle as fast as I did.

Grade: A-

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