By Randall H. Borkus
“Taconic,” (/təˈkɒnᵻk/) was once transliterated as the Taghkanic or Taughannock, meaning “in the trees,” and used as the name of a Lenape chieftain. Taghkanic is still used in parts of eastern New York, as in the name of a small town in the region, for both features within and outside the Taconic Mountains.
The founders of Taconic Distillery (formerly known as Millbrook Distillery), Gerald Valenti and Paul “PJ” Coughlin, are avid outdoorsmen, Dutchess County residents who envisioned marrying their passions for whiskey and mother-nature in the establishment of Taconic Distillery. Tapping into the farm-to-table and farm-to-bottle ideology, the Taconic Distillery’s juice contains natural spring water from their own Rolling Hills Farm in the spectacular Hudson Valley.
As a straight rye, this whiskey was aged a minimum of two years, and as a cask strength it was bottled at ABV 57.50%. The whiskey is similar to the preceding Founder’s Rye, in that it was made at a sister distillery under the same ownership, and then aged on the Taconic property.
The color is a reddish bronze, and the juice looks a bit thin, with no legs to speak of showing its youth. The nose reaches up my nostrils tingling with a hint of sweet fruit, vanilla and a slight oak spice.
I enjoyed sampling this flavorful rye offering which sports an aromatic finish of hints of honey and vanilla. The mouthfeel is thin, warm and dry yet the flavors of honey, vanilla, caramel and a touch oak spice are right upfront in the mouth. The juice then lightly coats the tongue with honey, vanilla, fruit sweetness that reminds me of an ice cream sundae. The finish is warming and surprisingly smooth as hints of fresh fruit, more honey and wood spice dawdle in the back of my throat calmingly backing into a mild, enjoyable dryness.
This is a good sipping cask strength rye whiskey which is young and will only get better over time, and I would buy a bottle for my rye shelf. This would likely be delicious in cocktails; however, I found it surprisingly easy to drink when sipped neat as it immediately put smile on my face. I thought to myself, “this is going to be fun” and the juice did not disappoint me in the least bit.
Taconic Distillery Straight Rye Whiskey Cask Strength is not available in my Chicago or Sarasota stomping grounds, yet I easily found it online for $62.99 for a 750 ml bottle.