Thursday, May 4, 2023

Kentucky Owl 10 Year Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey - Batch No. 03

- $140 (MSRP - $180)
- 114 Proof
- 10 Years
- Batch No. 03
- Kentucky

When Kentucky Owl their first batch of their rye, an 11 year cask strength expression, I was thrilled to get my hands on one. At that time Kentucky Owl was at the peak of its hype, with people fighting to get their hands on those $300 bottles of bourbon. The release of a rye, not to mention a well-aged, cask strength rye, certainly benefitted from that hype. That said, the whiskey inside was quite good, and I found I really enjoyed what they had done.

But, after just a few releases, it quickly lost its luster. The market for high-end, high-priced ryes just didn't support $140+ bottles, even with the age statement. And so, subsequent releases, including this Batch No. 03, seemed to sit on shelves or in the locked cabinets just waiting for someone to come along. It didn't help that the price kept climbing as well.  I was able to pick this one up on sale at $140, which was still very steep. But at $180, the original price for this release, I could never convince myself to pull the trigger.

That said, I got it at a discount, and I got it to drink. So, eventually I got around to popping the cork just this past New Year's Eve, when my brother-in-law and I had a handful of high-end ryes to sip on for the night. Right away I could tell that, much like the earlier release I had, this was on the sweeter end for a rye. I got brown sugar and peanut, along with something light and fruity, kind of like melon.  But, there was a touch of rich cherry mixed in as well.  Notably, it had a very strong malty backbone.

Luckily for me, it had much more spice on the palate than on the nose (I tend to lean towards the spicier ryes).  Right up front I got a healthy dose of cinnamon, and the cherry note was also more prominent in the flavor than it was on the nose. It was still sweet, with notes of caramel accompanied by unsweetened vanilla.

But, it maintained a lot of the rye characteristics. In addition to the cinnamon notes I got right up front, I got a bit of mint. It wasn't a lot, but it was there. However, the malt notes made their way forward, and it developed a distinct cereal note, kind of like Cheerios.

On the finish, the cinnamon came across more like cloves, and that spice note lingered for quite a while. The mint, which had not been strong at all, was much more prominent on the finish, leaving almost a cooling sensation in my mouth.  That mint was accompanied by a very welcome vanilla notes as well.  This combination of flavors really made for a great finish!

This is a very good rye, don't get me wrong. But, I'm glad I didn't pay full price, as that's just a lot to ask. Well-aged whiskeys are somewhat hard to come by, but even today they don't seem to be commanding quite the price that this one was asking, and that's why it sat as long as it did.

Grade: B+

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