Monday, September 30, 2019

Whiskey Acres Artisan Series Rye Whiskey Distilled with Caramel Malted Rye

- $40 (375 ml)
- 87 Proof
- Aged at least 1 year
- Illinois

I recently had the incredible experience of visiting Whiskey Acres in Sycamore, Illinois. This was a long time coming, as I've been living literally down the road (20 miles down the road, but it literally took me one turn to get there), and yet I had never been there to visit. I signed up to attend an event with a local whiskey group, the Fox Valley Whiskey Society, which involved cocktails, hors d'ouevres consisting of local meats and cheeses, a tour of the facility, and an extensive tasting of whiskeys straight from the barrel.

The facility and the grounds are absolutely beautiful! The visitor's center is a brand new gorgeous building, with a great bar and a great selection of delicious cocktails at its center. Outside are sample crops of corn varietals they may use, a solar field that powers the entire operation, and of course warehouses full of whiskey! One of the owners, Nick, not only gave us a thorough history of the distillery and tour of the grounds, but also took us into those stores, at night with flashlights, to taste barrel after barrel, straight from the whiskey thief. It was an incredible experience that anyone in the area, or visiting the area, should definitely check out.

Before I left, of course, I perused their bottles for sale, and I was intrigued by this one. As Nick explained it, each summer they have any number of interns, and at the end of the internship, he allows them to make their own whiskey using various grain and yeast combinations. This is one of those experiments that was so good he decided to bottle it.  I was more than happy to take one home to find out for myself.

On the nose I got lots of caramel and lots of corn. It had that traditional young smell, like something in between baked apples and over-ripe apples. It is worth noting, however, that that "young" smell seemed to disappear after being open for a week or so. I found that at that point, the nose was pretty much what I would describe as a caramel oatmeal cookie, which while very sweet, smelled pretty delicious!

As to flavor, the first thing I noticed was the sweetness. This was a very sweet whiskey, and it seemed to have a minimal amount of spice. In that sense it was more like a bourbon than a rye. Of course, I got a lot of caramel up front. I'm not sure if that's the power of suggestion from the "caramel malted rye" or not, but I feel like I couldn't escape it.

At first it had those young notes, that over-ripe apple again. Much like the nose, though, that flavor receded leaving primarily that sweet caramel note to stick around. At the same time, I felt like some of that more traditional rye spice seemed to come through as well.  I started getting some notes of cinnamon and even some drier, wood notes. In moments it came across as a bit piney. More earthy flavors seemed to be there, suffocating under the sweet caramel, but coming through every now and then, with some nice char notes and even some tobacco leaf flavors poking their heads out from time to time.

Overall, from my own subjective perspective, this was just too sweet for me, particularly if I'm wanting a rye. Granted, that should be expected given the description, so I'm struggling to hold that against this whiskey. For what it's worth, my father-in-law, who loves rum and only recently had taken more of a liking to whiskey, absolutely loved this bottle! While I'm giving it a B, he would most certainly give this an A. So, for anybody out there that likes the sweeter side of things, perhaps this is something for you!  In any event, go check these guys out in person. What they are doing is pretty incredible!!

Grade: B

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