Updated August 31, 2017
By Randall H. Borkus
Average Rating: A-
The Cooper Spirits Co. resurrected the Hochstadter’s brand in 2013 with the introduction of Hochstadter’s Slow & Low Rock & Rye. Later came further brand extensions in the portfolio, such as the Hochstadter’s 8 Year Old Rock & Rye and the peculiar Hochstadter’s Vatted Straight Rye Whiskey. Now the company has released the first very aged Hochstadter’s offering, a 16 year, limited release, cask strength bottling.
This is a must have for the true rye whiskey lover. The 16 years in the wood creates a rye juice with a unique maple color like glow. The legs are long and heavy. This is a bold whiskey that jumps out from the glass from the start with heavy wood overtones and a nose holding an evenhanded burn on the nostrils with citrus, blackberries and hint of cinnamon and anise.
The whiskey starts hot on my palate and soothes out as it sits on my tongue. I recommend a few drops of water or an ice cube when drinking it neat to really open up the flavor experience. The flavor starts with an oaky spice bomb, opening into snappish cinnamon, ginger and fruit notes. The liquid is immense in my mouth and leaves an oily numbness long after the swallowing the juice. It’s delicious, sporting a finish that imparts a lingering oaky spice, fruit sweetness and herbal notes sip after sip.
Addendum by Richard Thomas
In my eye, the Hochstader’s 16 Year Old was like gold with a wash of red. The swish of the glass left a coat that dropped some pretty thick legs.
A full-bodied whiskey, but not a ballsy one despite being pretty old and cask strength, I found the nose to be almost more bourbon-esque than rye’d. Berries and spices are almost evenly balanced against brown sugar and caramel, with musty oak forming a third leg of the stool. So, while not potently spicy, Hochstadter’s 16 Year Old certainly has a well-balanced scent.
On the palate, the whiskey needed a drop or two of water. Certainly not much, but without it the flavor turned so hot and peppery right from the get-go as to drown everything else out. With just a touch of water, though, the well-balanced character of the nose asserts itself. Spices and caramel sweetness and toasty oak. The finish follows along that toasty current until it fades away.
If you can find it forget about the price tag. Just buy it, as it will disappear quickly and will be available in only very limited quantities at select retailers across the country at a suggested retail price of $199.99 per 750 ml bottle.