Thursday, October 20, 2022

Smoke Wagon Bottled In Bond Straight Rye Whiskey

- $80
- 100 Proof
- 4 Years
- Indiana/Nevada

I have been a big fan of most everything that Nevada H&C Distilling Co. has been putting out in their Smoke Wagon line. The Uncut and Unfiltered is consistently delicious, their limited bottlings have been great, and so far I 've really enjoyed the private picks that I've tried. So, I was very excited to learn they were going to start coming out with rye expressions.

The first that hit was their experimental rye.  Those were 9 year rye whiskeys where they experimented with different char levels and the like. The only problem is they were hitting shelves (so to speak) at $250 per bottle. I had a difficult time justifying that price, and so I passed. I did come across this bottle, which was at a much more approachable $80, but, of course, it's only 4 year old whiskey. I wasn't thrilled about the price, but I did want to give a Smoke Wagon rye a try, so I bit the bullet.

While this was distilled in Indiana, it wasn't the traditional 95/5 rye from MGP. Rather, this was 51% rye  and 49% corn, so nearly a bourbon.  Nonetheless, I still got some of those familiar MGP notes on the nose, including mint and vanilla.  There was a light cinnamon spice to it as well, along with a sweet crackery note, like graham crackers with a bit of added honey sweetness.

As for flavor, the first thing I noted was that this had a nice combination of sweet and heat.  It's a sweeter rye, for sure, though not surprising given the rye to corn ratio. It was very caramel forward, reminding me of Werther's candies. That graham cracker and honey note was there as well.

It was balanced out, though, by a light cinnamon note, though it was never all that spicy. It was more just the cinnamon flavor. The cracker note was fairly predominant and almost muted any spice.  I did not get any of the mint or dill notes that people so often associate with MGP rye, despite having gotten mint off the nose.

The finish was probably the best part, as that's were this became more robust and added a bit of richness. The cinnamon came across more boldly, kind of like a cloves note. That went really well with a sort of baked cherry note. But, of course, all that was paired with the sweetness that stayed throughout, leaving a lingering caramel flavor.

Subjectively, I tend to favor a good, spicy rye over these sweeter ryes. I have, however, had some of the more corn-heavy ryes that I've absolutely loved. This one, however, just leaned too much into the sweet notes for me, such that it lost much of its rye character. That's not to mention that the price was a tough pill to swallow. 

Grade: B-

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