By Father John Rayls
There’s a new (old) trend that’s gaining traction in the craft whiskey distilling business. Breweries have done it for years, and the reasoning makes sense.With so many new distilleries popping up, whiskey entrepreneurs are looking for ways to reach new markets through joint cooperative ventures. Certainly the first Craft Collaboration of the “Four Kings” caused plenty of excitement, with the Four Kings Bourbon selling out in just a few days.
Like its predecessor, Four Kings Rye is the result of four Midwestern (that is what they say, but it’s really three Midwestern and one Southern) distilleries working together to produce something special. Few Spirits (Evanston, IL), Journeyman Distillery (Three Oaks, MI), and Mississippi River Distilling (LeClaire, IA) contributed 30 gallons of house rye, while Corsair Artisan (Nashville, TN) contributed two batches of experimental rye in the same amount. The collaboration yielded a little over 700 bottles rendered at 80 proof (40% abv), and at the time of publication a few are still out there to be had.
I love the Four Kings Rye logo and labeling. I used to think it was just me that appreciated these things, but then I found that some of the other writers at The Whiskey Reviewer do too.
The color in the glass is an orange/light brown mix that’s more to the lighter side. It has medium legs that linger on the glass, but appear to be on the thinner side. I had read of an intense aroma from this mix before I opened the bottle. As a result, my expectations were pretty high.
Unfortunately, I found the aroma to be fairly mild and even a little less than subtle. Now don’t get me wrong, because I enjoyed this rye experience. I was just expecting more of a punch in the face from my glass from what I had read. On the nose are hints of spice, rye and oak. You may need to spend some time breathing it in to identify the components, but it is a pleasant aroma.
Just like the aroma, I found the taste to be on the softer side. Add the 80 proof, and this is an easy drinking rye. However, the flavors are subtle with a nice spiciness to the finish. The finish is of medium length and linger a bit if you focus on it. The part I really liked was the presence of cloves and brown sugar in the lingering. This is not an overly sweet rye, just an enjoyable one.
You have the best chance of securing one of these bottles if you live in the Midwest and an even better chance in and around Chicago. The retail pricing is set at $49.99 and is available through Binny’s and other select retail sellers. In the Chicago area there are rumors that you might even purchase individual pours from a few select bars and restaurants.