Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Kentucky Owl 11 Year Kentucky Straight Rye Batch No. 1

VITALS:
- $140
- 110.6 Proof
- 11 Years
- Kentucky

The release of Kentucky Owl Rye was much anticipated by most in the bourbon community. After all, Kentucky Owl has long had a cult following and been known for releasing highly allocated but absolutely delicious bourbon. When their release of Kentucky Owl Rye was announced, I had resigned myself to the fact that, much like their bourbon releases, I wasn't going to stumble across any bottles of the rye.

However, and I don't know if this is attributable to the purchase of the brand by Stoli or not, this release seems to have been plentiful. Though the price is high, it is, at least, pretty readily available, relatively speaking. I know that I can run to the store right now and grab a bottle if I so desired, and that, to me, means a lot. After all, if the whiskey is good, why not get it in the hands of as many people as possible!

And luckily for me, this whiskey is very good! The nose had more alcohol than what I had expected. While it's somewhat high proof, I've had much higher proofed whiskeys that didn't burn quite as much. Behind that alcohol, though, was a lot of cinnamon. It smelled like a stick of Big Red gum and immediately had my mouth watering. Interestingly, I got a distinct malt note. Although the mashbill is undisclosed, there appears to be a significant amount of Barley used as a secondary or tertiary ingredient.

Incredibly, on the palate that alcohol burn from the nose did not carry over. There was almost no burn at all to this whiskey, which allowed all the other flavors to shine, and the overall flavor of this whiskey is delicious!

There is definitely a maltiness to it, providing an interesting mix of the spicy rye and unpeated Scotch notes. I've had other barley-influenced ryes in the past that didn't do much for me, but in this one it worked. There were a couple times that I took a sip and the barley seemed to dominate, but for the most part it stayed in the background, providing a soft blanket for the otherwise up front and spicy rye flavors.

This whiskey is full of brown sugar and cinnamon. It tasted the way Christmas cookies smell when they're being baked. I realize that's kind of obtuse, but if I could capture that smell as a flavor, this was it. It also had a slight piney/minty flavor that seemed to just barely make its way into the flavor profile, just enough to add a little more character.

This whiskey was lauded by some as the whiskey of the year for 2017. I certainly don't begrudge them that. Interestingly, this one seemed to fluctuate from a very good whiskey to an amazing whiskey. Some pours I simply enjoyed, and other pours blew me away. I don't know what to make of that, but overall this is an excellent whiskey and one worth trying for sure.

Grade: A-

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