- 94 Proof
You know what I hate? I hate getting a press release about a new whiskey coming out, particularly one that's a new entry to the core lineup for a major distillery and happens to be a rye, only to find out that the initial distribution is limited to four states. Four!! What kind of madness is that? When Heaven Hill announced an Elijah Craig Rye, a lot of people were crazy excited for it -- Elijah Craig fans and rye whiskey fans alike. So much promise, broad availability and very reasonable price--what more could you ask for?
And then I read the part about the limited distribution to start. This product was only going to be available in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Oregon. What an odd market release!! Not a single major market in there, and even people living in Kentucky were left out. Certainly there are plans to broaden the distribution, but my initial excitement waned quite a bit upon reading that part of the release. Luckily for me, though, I have family in Oregon, and one day, unannounced, a box arrived on my porch from my sister. Inside that box were a bunch of old towels, and wrapped inside those old towels was a bottle of Elijah Craig Rye!! I felt like I was getting in on the ground floor of things!
I opened the bottle up right away (it was weird being this excited to try something that's not rare or limited), and I struggled to get a whiff of much of anything. It had a really soft nose, and even after pouring it into a Glencairn I really had to bury my nose in the glass. I did get some light caramel notes with just a bit of vanilla. I got almost no spice on the nose whatsoever, and I did get a touch of pine, letting me know that this was very much a rye whiskey.
Much like the nose, the palate was soft and light as well. It was what many would describe as an "approachable" whiskey. To me, this means that it had limited alcohol burn and a bit of a thin, watery texture. It was by no means bold in either flavor or spice, and had really no offensive characteristics to it at all.
I did get some cinnamon spice that I wasn't getting on the nose. It was more on the sweeter side, however, and it mixed with a soft, creamy vanilla flavor. I also got bright notes of spearmint that really complemented that vanilla flavor.
On later pours I got some richer, sweeter flavors, like a fairly distinct molasses note. I also got a buttery and nutty note, and it really reminded me of cashews. The vanilla-spearmint note, however, was consistent from the first pour to the last. But, even as I noticed other flavors, it always seemed to work well with them all.
Despite the thin, watery texture, this whiskey actually had a decently long and delicious finish. After each sip I found myself still getting a lot of flavor, including the vanilla and spearmint, but also some sweeter notes like oatmeal cookie. The finish was actually my favorite part of this whiskey, and I was thrown by how much of a finish there actually was.
Overall, I can't wait for this to make its way to Illinois. It's a great price for a really good whiskey. While it won't hold up against some of the limited release, high-proofed and well-aged ryes that are out there, for $30, you get a lot of value with this one.