By Randall H. Borkus
As with other Redemption Rye whiskeys, this barrel proof expression is sourced from the MGP Distillery in Indiana, an old Seagrams distillery dating back to 1847, and bottled in Bardstown. Redemption recites this background on the label of each bottle and on their web site. Each bottle is hand numbered by the bottler demonstrating the company’s commitment to the detail.
This particular whiskey is, like their standard Redemption Rye, based on MGP’s near-ubiquitous 95% rye, 5% malted barley stock. Where it differs (both from Redemption Rye basic and many other MGP 95% rye based products) is in being 8 years old and a cask strength whiskey, bottled at 55.3% ABV (110.6 proof). *
Ryes like this one are sometimes billed as “pre-Prohibition” style (The Whiskey Reviewer itself described MGP’s 95% stock rye as “Pennsylvania-like” this past Monday), as the very high rye content and higher proof creates a spicy, bold whiskey with a drier flavor profile. The bottom line here is this rye whiskey is good neat and it shows up well in a cocktail such as a Manhattan or Old Fashioned.
The whiskey is a reddish caramel color with medium legs clinging to my glass. The nose starts off with a serious alcohol slap to the nostrils and tames down with hints of forest wood, rye spice and a touch of cocoa.
The mouthfeel is warm and spicy with a nice flavor array leading with oak, cinnamon spice and dried dark fruits. The palate is full of rye spice and hints of candy, coating the back of the throat with a noticeable dryness. The finish has a nice rye spice to it, with oaky overtones and an earthiness that disappears rather quickly. The overall flavor profile is good, not great, but surely good.
If you’re drinking it neat, I suggest you let it air for 10 minutes or more and add a few drops of water to unleash more of the flavor characteristics.
It would be interesting to see this Barrel Proof Rye spend more time dancing in its oak cradle. I surmise a bit more age may very well enhance the oaky notes and bring out a more complex flavor profile.
This is by far the best of the new trio of Barrel Proofs (two bourbons plus this rye), yet it too falls short for me as there is just something missing here given the expectations that Redemption sets in their marketing and at this price point.
This Barrel Proof darling, like the other expressions in this trio, is also an exorbitant $99.99 a bottle.
* This 8 year old Barrel Proof was part of a 2016 batch release, and is separate from the 2015 batch release product covered by S.D. Peters.