Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Widow Jane Whiskey Distilled From a Rye Mash Oak & Apple Wood Aged

- $35 (375 ml)
- 91 Proof
- Batch #33
- New York

This was the second bottle from the two-pack of 375 ml bottles that my wife bought me a short while back. The other one was the 10 Year Blended Bourbon.  I do love that my wife bought me this two-pack. Honestly, I don't know that I would have ever gotten around to grabbing a bottle of this off the shelf. While it sounds interesting, aged in oak and apple wood and all, it's just not so interesting that I've felt I needed to try it.

But, when someone gifts me a bottle, my curiosity is going to get the best of me every time, and I'm going to give it a whirl. If nothing else, it gives me something new to write about here. So, despite that I never really had a great desire to try this in the first instance, and despite that it came in a weird little skinny bottle, I, of course, nonetheless cracked it open and enjoyed it pour after pour until it was gone.

The nose on this was actually pretty good. It was light and crisp, with notes of caramel and vanilla and a consistent undercurrent of pear. It did have a bit of a bread or cracker note to it, like a plain wafer cracker, but it also had a touch of black pepper and cinnamon to tickle my nose a bit and keep it interesting. 

The first thing I noticed upon my first sip was that it was very drinkable and, dare I say, smooth. The proof is somewhat low, but not so low that it should come across as completely watered down. But, it was certainly a softer whiskey, with few sharp edges and also not a lot of punch. So, good and bad.

The flavor was very vanilla forward, kind of like a French vanilla flavor. I'm not sure what makes French vanilla different from regular, but there's definitely a difference, and that's what I noticed here. Along with the vanilla, the other more prominent note was a crisp fruit note. But, it wasn't that apple note that I so often get with a young whiskey (I have no idea how old this one was), but rather more of a pear note. I think this is what made it so drinkable, because it was crisp and almost refreshing.

What was disappointing, though, was the lack of any rye spice. If I'm grabbing a rye off the shelf, I'm doing so because I want a rye. I want those flavors and spices that I get from a rye. Give me the pickle and pine, the cinnamon and brown sugar. Here, all I got was vanilla and pear. I did get some nice cinnamon and pepper on the nose, but that was noticeably absent in the flavor.

The last few pours of this were very sweet, almost as though the nectar from the pear had somehow settled at the bottom. And those sips were almost entirely that pear note. I don't know if it came from the apple wood that it was aged in or the unnamed source of the "rye mash" itself (the label doesn't actually call this a rye whiskey), but that was nearly all I got.

Again, this was very easy to drink, but that only gets me so far. I want flavor, I want complexity, and with a rye, or even something "distilled from a rye mash," I want spice.  And this had none of that. So, I was glad I got to try it, but I'm also glad that I was justified in not reaching for it sooner.

Grade: C-

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