Saturday, January 12, 2019

Starlight Distillery Binny's Private Selection Single Barrel Straight Rye Barrel #1372

VITALS:
- $55
- 119.2 Proof
- 3 years
- Barrel No. 1372
- Indiana

I was wondering through Benny's the other day, making my usual perusal through the bourbon and rye section, and I managed to strike up a conversation with a very friendly gentleman who happened to be one of the guys who picks barrels for Binny's. During our conversation, I expressed my love for the Willett Family Estate ryes, specifically the recent four-year rye that was released. Not much more came of the conversation, I made my purchases, and I went on my way.

The next day, while making a wine run for my wife, I was tracked down once again by the very same gentleman. He informed me of this distillery down in Indiana called Starlight Distillery. He explained that this is a family-run farm in southern Indiana that has been distilling spirits for approximately 10 years. However, for the first five years they only had an experimental license. So, while their whiskey being bottled is somewhat young, they've been distilling for quite a while and know what they're doing. I haven't verified any of this information, just passing along what I was told.

He explained how he had the pleasure of going to this barrel tasting where they selected this particular bottling of the Starlight Rye. The reason he was telling me all this is that he believed it to be fairly comparable to the Willett Family Estate rye, and also a decent value at $55. I'm sure he had a certain amount of bias towards this whiskey as well, given that he was involved in the selection process. Nonetheless, I was sold.

Of course once home I immediately cracked this open and poured myself a glass (and a glass of wine for my wife as well). Right away I noticed that the nose does have many of the same characteristics that I found and the Willett Family Estate 4-year Rye. It had a fruity, yet spicy character to it. It was almost as though it were raisins soaked in a red wine, like a Cabernet, and then hit with a bunch of cinnamon. The aroma was pungent, and at the same time earthy, fruity and spicy.

On the first sip, up front I immediately got hit with those dark fruit notes. It had certain wine characteristics to it that I really loved, even with a bit of tannin. Those notes weren't strong or overpowering, as you get with some wine barrel finished whiskeys. However, those notes of dark fruit, such as cherry and raisin, certainly were at the forefront.

As I made my way into the bottle, other more dessert-like notes began to come through. Certainly the cinnamon was present, offering a decent amount of spice from beginning to the end. It also had a hint of a butterscotch note on the tongue that seemed to play well with the wine notes that I was getting. Additionally, there was a hint of pine to add a little bit of a unique characteristic to this Rye. All in all, it came off as bold and rich, and fairly complex in flavor. Even the mouth feel was nice and oily, likely due to the fact that it was bottled that barrel proof. While it did have hints of being a young whiskey, I wasn't smacked in the face with those typical qualities of a young whiskey as I so often am. Rather, this came across as a young rye that stands up very well.

My only disappointment with this bottle was the finish. While everything was great up front and in the middle, on the end I found it to be very bitter and tannic. It was the kind of bitter that I notice on the sides of my tongue long after each poor. Unfortunately, the cinnamon flavors, the sweet butterscotch notes and those wine notes didn't really seem to linger. Rather, I was left with this lingering bitter note, which was a bit off-putting. Luckily, the front end of this poor was good enough that I found myself nonetheless going back for that next sip relatively quickly.

I really loved the recommendation from the Binny's employee here. I like the fact that he gave me a recommendation based on my stated preferences, and I also like the fact that he referred me to something unique, something that he was fairly certain I had never tried. In fact, this is one of the most nondescript bottles and labels that I have ever seen. I had probably looked at this bottle numerous times and never given it a second thought, which is quite frankly a shame. The label design certainly leaves much to be desired. However, the whiskey inside the bottle was absolutely delicious, and it certainly will have me looking out for other offerings from Starlight Distillery.

Grade: B

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