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, but it is an interesting twist to the story. The label proudly announces this rye as a product of Virginia, but the backstory goes further in placing it in the Blue Ridge Mountains. 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. A very interesting side story involves Constellation Brands which was the recent winner in the High West Distillery bidding war last October. However prior to winning the bid on High West at a rumored 160 million, Constellation bought a minority stake in Catoctin Creek Distilling. 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 certainly raises a number of questions and puzzles the mind. The rye whisky has coloring of golden copper with medium brown tint. In the bottle, it looks darker. The legs eventually appear and are long, thin and slow. It doesn’t look syrupy, but the 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 spicey. 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. This rye will surprise you. This is not a complex rye experience. 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. However, the balance makes for an interesting sipping rye and, I suspect, would make a very interesting base for various rye cocktails.
Catoctin Creek Distilling has a limited distribution network. However, with Total Wine and More picking them up they now have a much more diverse distribution across the country. Look for Braddock Oak Single Barrel Rye retailing for between $35.00 and $40.00.