Virginia, USA – 58%ABV – $65 – **KOSHER CERTIFIED RYE WHISKY**
We’re about to journey into the land of FUN… “What kind of fun?” you might ask… Single cask, cask strength rye whisky from Catoctin Creek. (Yes, Catoctin Creek spell “whisky” the same way most of the world does; without the “E.”) For a whisky geek like me, I think this is a $hit ton-o-fun!
So, what’s the make up of this concoction from Catoctin? Well, you may have heard the term “mash bill” before. If not, a “mash bill” is basically a mixture of grain(s) that distillers use when making a beer (or wash) that will then get distilled into spirit.
As far as rye goes, most rye whiskeys are made from a mash bill that has about 51% rye grain (the legal minimum to call said whiskey a “rye” whiskey) and the balance is often rounded out with corn, wheat and barley. Some distillers use a higher percentage of rye grain but Catoctin Creek is one of a handful of distilleries that use 100% rye grain. What’s more is Catoctin uses only organic certified rye grain.
What’s more-more is, even though the owners are not Jewish, Catoctin Creek one of a very few American distilleries that have their whiskeys kosher certified.
Here’s a video regarding Catoctin Creek and kosher certification:
Now, on to the tasting!
On the nose — Very youthful and a touch one dimensional in scent at first but after just a minute or so, it opens up. I mean it *really* opens up.
Fresh spring-scented fabric softener sheets notes mix with very light key lime pie filling.
Rye and citrus notes to be sure but I also detect pencil shavings and school-house pencil end erasers.
It’s evident the spirit character shines with not too much wood influence – an interesting play on rye whiskey compared to most brands out there – unique.
Fresh granny smith apples and apple sauce (home made, no sugar added, no cinnamon added).
Rye bread, lightly toasted with fresh, un-melted butter.
The addition of water seems to bring out more of the springy floral element but doesn’t change much else.
On the mouth — Aggressive attack filled with orange jujubes and baby aspirin notes. No, these are more than notes – pretty damn spot on (especially with the jujubes).
Spring-like again in flavor but with a focus on woodsy leaves from last autumn and new growth chutes.
Great mouth feel and, though aggressive, not really “hot” in any way. It doesn’t need water but I’m going to add a bit any way. Just for fun.
Adding water makes the mouthfeel massive & thick (like drinking Lou Ferrigno).
There is also a touch of spice now; right along the sides of the tongue.
**Caution, do not add too much water here. Initially I brought the whisky down to 50% ABV but in a 2nd sampling I brought it down to 54% (or so) and that was just right. Too much water and some of the flavors become elusive/shy. Just a touch brings out the mouthfeel but keeps the flavors generally intact.
Finish — A long, citrusy finish.
In sum — When going into this rye, forget what you know about the spirit in general. This will be a new experience.
I really enjoy their standard 40% ABV version of this rye whisky but tasting this in cask proof makes this whisky shine like a rye diamond. A wonderful springtime whisky. Fine whisky – kudos to the Catoctinians on this one!
Special thanks to Scott H for the sample!