By Father John Rayls
Braddock Oak Single Barrel Rye Whisky (spelling is a nod to their Scottish heritage) is distilled and bottled by Catoctin Creek Distilling in Purcellville, Virginia. Scott and Becky Harris founded the distillery in 2009 and produce various ryes, brandies, gin and even an unusual rye white dog. They pride themselves on using all organic ingredients, it’s totally kosher (certified), gluten free and for the kicker… it’s also vegan.
I don’t know how many whisk(e)y drinkers seek out those things, and some apply to whiskey in general, but it is an interesting twist to the story. The mashbill is 100% rye and the finished product is bottled at 92 proof. The age is unknown (NAS), as well as most of the other details involved in its production.
The future at Catoctin Creek looks bright, however. Beyond being locally popular, Constellation Brands bought a minority stake in Catoctin Creek Distilling, this prior to acquiring Utah’s High West for a reported $160 million. As a result, Scott and Becky Harris will double production of their distilled products this year.
The bottle label uses a beautiful off white/beige background giving it an appearance of age. The creative use of both black and red lettering grabs your attention while the bottle is sitting on the shelf. The label also declares this as a small batch while at the same time proclaiming it as a single barrel. This is the same marketing buzzword “batch of one” claim that Wild Turkey did with Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel, once upon a time.
The rye whisky has the coloring of golden copper with a medium brown tinting. The legs are slow to appear and are long, thin and slow. It doesn’t look syrupy, but those legs are interesting. The nose is light to medium with some sweet oak, leather and very light spice.
The mouthfeel is light. On the palate, there are flavors of leather, oak and light sweet tobacco. All of the mouth action takes place from mid tongue to the back of the mouth. It eventually transforms to pepper primarily on the roof of the mouth at the back. The finish is medium to long and is spicy.
Because it’s a dry whisky, you may experience a sensation of a small amount of flour mixed in. It hasn’t been, of course, but it makes you think about it. While not a complex rye experience, it is a surprising one. The palate is soft, slightly sweet and understated. The spice gets your attention with the finish, but not as forcefully as you might expect from a 100% rye mashbill. The balance makes for an interesting sipping rye and, I suspect, would make a very interesting base for various rye cocktails.
Look for Braddock Oak Single Barrel Rye retailing for between $35.00 and $40.00.