Updated January 21, 2018
By S.D. Peters
Average Rating: B+
Redemption, a brand sourced from MGP, the old Seagram’s distillery in Lawrenceville, Indiana from, is owned by Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits. As their Fact Sheet tells it, “Redemption Whiskey was created serendipitously when a cache of Rye Whiskey barrels believed to be the perfect expression of [Rye] were found, just as the Rye category was beginning to re-emerge.”
Good luck, good timing, and good sense.
Perfection’s found in the aging and blending of Redemption’s standard Rye. But sometimes, the during the batching process, a barrel that needs no more than a few more years’ age to bring out that perfection is discovered. When one those barrels are found, they’re set aside for Redemption’s limited release Barrel Proof Ryes, which are aged in 7-, 8- and 10-year expressions.
Redemption indeed. There’s proof enough in Redemption’s Barrel Proof Straight Rye Whiskey to restore Rye’s honor as the best American whiskey out there.
Redemption’s Barrel Proof Ryes are from MGP’s 95% rye, 5% malt stock, and the various aged expressions are bottled as cask strengths, at the resulting barrel proofs. For the 10-year expression, that proof is 110.1, or 55.05% alcohol by volume. That’s the lowest of the three expressions, but what it loses in proof it gains in maturation.
Like the 7- and 8-year expressions, the 10-year presents a fine shade of Sequoia in the glass, and woody freshness. The nose is more complex, distinct: toasted Jewish Rye, ale nuts, Post oak, and cracked Tellicherry black peppercorn. The flavor is similar to the 7- and 8-year expressions, in that it shares a taste of cream soda. Even so, it has a unique twist this time around.
That twist was white pepper and leather for the 7- and 8-year expressions, respectively. Here we get cardamom and Honeycrisp apple. The finish is equally warm, but bolder in its sweetness, blending several of the sweeter apple varieties (Honeycrisp, Fuji, Gala) with hand-whipped cream, honey and clementine in a long, lingering and very smooth finish.
This is a laid-back Rye with plenty of unique character and an inventive agenda. The perfect soundtrack? Anything by Lester Young, though later Lester will provide the most appropriate compliment.
Addendum by Richard Thomas
I got to try the 2017 version of the Redemption 10-year-old Barrel Proof Rye. This version was stronger at 116.2 proof.
Look at it was a middling, reddened amber, and streamed big legs all down the sides of the glass. I found the nose just a little too hot so I added a couple drops of water to even things out. That done, scent that was powerfully caramelized and floral with notes of dill and pumpernickel.
The flavor ran syrupy sweet, with loads of spice mint and oak washing in after. The finish rolled off the minty note and lasted quite a long time.
Addendum by Richard Thomas, Part 2
I got to follow up on the 2017 installment with the 2018 installment. Comparing my notes, I found them nearly identical. The only thing to note was that I found the latest batch a bit drier and woodier.
Redemption Barrel Proof Straight Rye 10-year is a limited bottling. The recommended standard retail price for the 2016 release was $129.99, but the 2017 version was markedly cheaper at $99.99. The average market price is hovering around $105.