Sunday, September 15, 2019

Driftless Glen Distiller's Select Cask Strength Single Barrel Straight Rye Whiskey

VITALS:
- $60
- 119.8 Proof
- 4 years, 5 months
- Barrel No. 233
- Wisconsin

For her birthday, my daughter wanted to go to Great Wolf Lodge, but not the one that's only an hour away from where we live. No, she wanted to go to the one that's two and a half hours away in the Wisconsin Dells. Knowing reason was lost on a child who wants what she wants for her birthday, we conceded, and to the Dells we went.

However, all was not lost. I did manage to convince my wife that we should grab lunch before we head out, and, of course, I suggested we go one town over to Driftless Glen. I had never been there before, and, quite frankly, I'd never had anything from that distillery before. I really didn't know what to expect. But the distillery is absolutely beautiful, with a new facility set right on the river, looking across at a bunch of old circus trains that are part of the circus museum (perhaps providing an excuse to go back).  The food was great as well, including my maple old fashioned that came garnished with a piece of bacon. I sampled a few things while I waited for my food, and as I left, much to my chagrin, I grabbed this bottle, hand-picked by "Nate" and only available in their gift shop.

I feel like I've had a bad run of "craft" whiskeys of late, so it took me a while before I actually got around to opening this bottle.  That was a mistake!  This was one of the best, and at the same time most unique, ryes that I've had in a long time, and I'm wishing I had more!

The nose is sweet, giving off chocolate and hazelnut, with that sharp woody bitter note that hazelnut has.  I also got a lot of spice on the nose, like cloves and cinnamon. There was something earthy to it as well, kind of like a hearty rye bread. Quite frankly, the nose didn't clue me in to what I was about to taste.

On the tongue, I immediately noticed the thick, almost syrupy texture to this whiskey. I was floored, given its age, at the incredible viscosity that this rye had. It coated every inch of my mouth and throat and never went away.

The flavor could best be summed up as a pine flavored spice-bomb. I would have thought this was something that came from the northwest it had so much pine flavor to it. It tasted like a walk through the woods. While it may sound like an odd flavor, it was actually really delicious. Not like cleaner or an air freshener. Rather, it tasted like . . . Christmas.

This was even more emphasized by the incredible amount of spice that was in this bottle. Every sip was full of cinnamon and allspice. It also had a light amount of anise and nutmeg. It tasted like a blend of spices to be used in an apple or cherry pie.  Those spices were rounded out by delicious notes of fresh dark cherry and other dark fruit notes. While I couldn't pinpoint any specific fruit, the flavor reminded me of mulled wine. On the finish, all of these flavors lingered, seemingly forever, and a hint of mint seemed to make its way forward, adding a bit of a cooling note.

This whiskey restored my faith in craft whiskey!  It was full, rich and robust. It achieved a texture and flavor that I'd expect from much older whiskeys.  And, it was unique in flavor, like Christmas in a cup, absolutely full of spice and only a trace amount of sweetness -- what I love most in a rye.  I haven't had a spice-bomb like this in a long time, and it absolutely hit the spot. Once it was opened, this bottle went very quickly.  I guess I'll need to make a trip back to Baraboo, Wisconsin very soon.

Grade: A

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