By Father John Rayls
Although my preference is to have my whiskey neat at room temperature and without anything added, not everyone else is after that same experience. Tastes are varied and, at times, totally opposite of mine.
Not only are consumers subject to their biases and preferences, but producers are as well. For instance, some distilleries want the best sipping whiskey while others are after the social scene that takes place on site while still others are producing whiskey for the primary purpose of making cocktails. Rich Eggers and co-owner Lisa Chase of Iowa Legendary Rye founded their distillery in 2014 in Carroll, Iowa, an infamous hotbed of whiskey production during Prohibition. It’s a “Grain to Glass” operation filled with lots of personal pride. Part of their motivation derives from the neighbors, Templeton Rye, and their history of misleading advertising.
The mash bill is pretty simple: 100% rye drawn straight from local farms. The recipe and techniques supposedly came directly from Prohibition distillers. Rich and Lisa are primarily using 15 gallon barrels for aging and letting them rest for about 18-24 months. However, they are experimenting with a few other barrel sizes both smaller and larger and constantly looking to extend the aging period as well.
The Iowa Legendary Rye Aged is bottled at 80 proof. The color is a muddle of dark gold, light brown with some faint red tints mixed in. In the glass, you might describe the color as a dirty gold. The legs are thin and sparse, but the nose is a terrific surprise. It rises willingly to meet you outside the glass with a sweet aroma and filled with fruit notes. If you think in terms of the very best raisin bread you’ve ever been around, then mix in cherries and oranges with a touch of leather and new oak, you might have it.
Unfortunately, the palate doesn’t live up to that promising nose. A very light mouthfeel leads gives way to an experience that is a little rough, short and very slightly hot. It’s cherries and cinnamon in terms of flavor. The finish is also short to medium and transitions to cherries (slightly sour) and cinnamon and light pepper, plus a very slight bit of an aftertaste that’s hard to nail down that remains somewhat rough.
You should find Iowa Legendary Rye Aged on your local shelves if you are anywhere near Iowa. In addition, Binny’s is now stocking it in Illinois. You should pay around $50.