- 110 Proof
- 4 yrs.
- Cask 1076
I have never had anything from Old Pepper Distillery before. I've certainly seen it, and I've even had bottles in my hand, contemplating bringing one home from the store, only to put it back on the shelf and move on. Having now finished this bottle, I'm wondering if that was a mistake (spoiler alert: I really liked it!!).
Binny's recently got in a number of single barrel picks from Old Pepper, and of the ones available at my local shop, two were MGP-sourced and one was Kentucky-sourced. I figured at $50 for a nearly cask-strength MGP rye, the risk of a clunker was relatively low. While it would have been fun to perhaps compare this cask against the other MGP pick that was there, that just wasn't in the cards, or more accurately, in my budget.
The nose was good, even if not overly remarkable. I immediately noticed a certain grassiness to it, or perhaps even an herbal quality. There was even a cracker quality to it. Nothing bold, more like saltines or those relatively plain wafer crackers. Behind all of this, though, was a layer of vanilla that added a touch of sweetness, even on the nose.
I went into this expecting to get some of those usual flavors I tend to get from MGP ryes -- a bunch of cinnamon, some spearmint and even maybe a little bit of dill. However, when I took my first sip, the first thing I noticed was all the vanilla that came out. It was certainly on the sweeter side, and it was kind of like vanilla bean ice cream, though not quite that sweet.
Almost immediately following that was a healthy dose of spearmint. In fact, I would have described this as a "vanilla bomb" if it weren't for all the spearmint behind it. Paired together, this whiskey really reminded me of one of my favorite seasonal treats that has once again gone away -- a shamrock shake. It sounds weird to associate Shamrock Shakes with whiskey, but that's where my mind when when I drank this, and I absolutely loved it!
Beyond that, there was a sweet butter cookie note to it, as well as some butterscotch. Again, it was no doubt on the sweeter side, but it never got too sweet with these notes. It also had a light herbal or even grassy note to it, not unlike what I was getting on the nose. On the finish, while it remained sweeter and the vanilla lingered, the cinnamon that I was expecting did finally make its way into the picture, along with a light black pepper spice as well.
I loved everything about this whiskey! I was practically shoving glasses of this in friends' faces when they came over, telling them they had to try it. That was perhaps more due to the fact that I was so pleasantly surprised at how much I loved this rye. This was one of those bottles that once I opened it, it was gone within no time, because it was all I wanted to drink. I'm not sure where the credit goes here, whether to Old Pepper Distillery, to MGP, or to the folks at Binny's that picked this out, but whoever deserves the credit did an amazing job with this barrel!