By S.D. Peters
It may be called “Old Tahoe,” but this small batch Rye from the Old Tahoe Distillery in Silver City, NV is a new addition in the Rye boom. It’s the vision of Mark Tavertini, who came to distilling with his family experience in wine making and a successful venture in craft brewing (the Spanish Peaks Brewery, opened in 1991) under his hat.
The Old Tahoe Distillery’s website opines that “Rye is the new Scotch.” and the blurb on the back of a bottle of their Rye does the same. Perhaps there is some justice to that, since the Rye craze has introduced new Rye expressions of comparable quality and sophistication to even the super premium single Malt and blended Scotches. The question is where does Old Tahoe measure up among all those new Rye offerings?
In terms of packaging, the bottle is weighty, but otherwise unremarkable. So, too, the Rye within has an unremarkable light amber appearance. The synthetic cork stopper is a little ill-fitting, and removed and returned with some difficulty.
My tasting was from Batch #1. The bottle and its stopper hinted at disappointment, but the Rye does boast a 43% ABV (86 Proof) and a three-year aging statement. Higher Proof and age tend to build a Rye’s character, so I held out hope. However, in a NEAT glass, I couldn’t detect any character at all. What I did note wasn’t great, and my lowered expectations were confirmed on my first sip. In the end, there is a medium finish with undistinguished hints of some common flavors associated with wood-aged alcohol, namely some caramel and vanilla. But the spice-diced sweetness of an aged Rye was missing.
I tried it a few more times: in different glasses, on and off the rocks, and with and without a splash of water. Eventually I detected a hint of cherry and berry in the finish, but the nose and taste remained the same with each taste. As the label indicated, this was Batch #1, and I can’t say time and practice won’t improve Old Tahoe Premium Rye. As it stands now, this batch has a long way to go.
Old Tahoe Premium Rye is a very new product, and distribution is still limited. Drinkers in (or drinkers visiting) Oregon can find in any of the state’s liquor stores for $36.95.