Updated August 7, 2017
By Richard Thomas
Whiskey enthusiasts should count themselves fortunate that the Rye Craze started at the same time that the micro-distillery movement took off. That left plenty of room for small distillers looking to make a name for themselves to move into as the rye whiskey scene initially suffered a severe shortage and then exploded. One result of that has been the revival of moribund, traditional styles like Pennsylvania and Maryland ryes. Another has been experimentation, such as the malted ryes that have been springing up.
Iowa’s Cedar Ridge introduced their malted rye in 2014. The exact mash bill is a secret, but we can speculate from what we do know that it’s over 51% malted rye with just plain rye making up the rest of the bill. Based on my experience with 100% malted ryes, like Old Mayesville Club, my guess is that the unmalted rye component is akin to the proportion of flavoring grain in most bourbons (in the 20s to 30s percentile).
Cedar Ridge Malted Rye has an off-color golden coloring. There is just a hint of red in there, not enough to make it anything like copper, but enough to make it off-gold. The swish reveals a fairly viscous liquid, since it leaves only a few very slow tears on the glass.
The nose here has the spicy and bread-like quality of a marble rye, like Jewish rye intertwined with pumpernickel. Throw in some notes of vanilla, honey and a little hoppy citric acid.
The liquid has a good bit of substance on the palate. It’s not really creamy or oily, but it certainly has some heft to it. That strong marble rye bread current from the nose is still there, once again accented by honeyed vanilla sweetness. It was also a touch astringent. The finish was a little spicy and a little toasty, and overall quite understated.
A 750 ml bottle of Cedar Ridge Malted Rye runs about $40.
Update: My guess was correct. Cedar Ridge recently sent me the mash bills for many of their products, and this one is made with 51% malted rye, 34% rye, 12% corn and 3% malted barley.