By Debbie Shocair
Another flavored whiskey which I’m pleased to lure spirits lovers into Whiskeydom is Hochstadter’s Slow & Low Rock and Rye 100 proof, a limited release made with 8 year straight rye whiskey.
The Cooper Spirits Co. has revived a flavorful drink which hails as far back as the early 1800’s, when it was common to serve unaged, sometimes barely drinkable rye whiskey alongside a bowl of rock candy, which could be added by the customer to “take the edge off.” From there came the moniker “Rock and Rye.” Hochstadter’s is made in the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia by the Local 500 with navel oranges from Florida, raw honey from Pennsylvania, Angostura Bitters, and a bit of rock candy.
The limited release 100 spirit builds on the standard version, while featuring a bright orange label, is packaged in the same bottle as the original Rock and Rye, a square bottle topped by a thick and sensuous swirled neck. Cooper Spirits suggests “Slow and Low is best enjoyed right out of the wide-mouthed bottle.” I was tempted to take them literally. And maybe I did when no one was looking.
This 100 proof expression of Slow & Low proved to be a distinct product in its own right. I’m a tough sell on Old-Fashioneds, mostly because few barkeeps master the drink, and Hochstadter’s is essentially and Old-Fashioned right out of the bottle.
On the nose, R&R100 was strongly redolent of bitter orange and honey. The rye whiskey took a backseat to both the orange and the honey, and there is a low-lying note of taffy. Certainly it was a pleasant beginning.
At a full 100 proof, this Rock and Rye was still surprisingly gentle in the mouth, with only a tingle at the front of the tongue.
Flavor was still strong point in this high-proof bottled cocktail. Bitter orange was clearly at the forefront, followed by honey, and only then the rye. Cooper Spirits has again done a fine job of marrying the orange with the rye, but in this bottling the bitter orange stands out. I tried it both neat and on the rocks, and found I preferred it neat.
The finish on Rock and Rye 100 was lingering, but a bit hot on the way down. Again, bitter orange lingered, along with honey and echos of whiskey. Set aside the expectations of a straight whiskey. This flavored cocktail-in-a-bottle is an easy drink but does seems to sacrifice a bit of smooth flavor in raising the proof-strength.
With a glut of flavored whiskies on the market, and most of them copycats at that, Hochstadter’s Rock and Rye 100 is a nice anomaly. Take it to a party. Drink it on your own. Tasty.
Slow & Low Rock And Rye 100 is available a suggested price of around $35.