By Father John Rayls
I recently discovered that in spite of my enjoyment of whiskey (almost always) consumed neat at room temperature without anything added, not everyone else is after that same experience. Their preferences 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. Of course, all want to make the best whiskey they can but for their own purposes and markets. Rich Eggers and Iowa Legendary Rye co-owner, Lisa Chase, founded their distillery in 2014 in Carroll, Iowa, a natural 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 somewhat recent revelations surrounding Templeton Rye Spirits and “false” advertising bottled just up the road. The mashbill is pretty simple: 100% rye 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. For more information, please look at http://whiskeyreviewer.com/2015/01/new-micro-distillery-pursues-iowa-bootlegger-legend_010615/.
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. The nose is a terrific surprise. It rises willingly to meet you outside the glass. It’s sweet and filled with fruit notes. If you think in terms of the very best raisin bread you’ve ever been around and mix in cherries and oranges with a touch of leather and new oak, you might have your arms around it.
Unfortunately, the palate doesn’t live up to the promise of the nose. There is a very light mouthfeel that drinks a little rough and very slightly hot. It’s cherries and cinnamon, but mostly cherries at mid-mouth. The palate experience is very short. The finish is also short to medium and transitions to cherries (slightly sour) and cinnamon and light pepper. There’s a very slight bit of an aftertaste that’s hard to nail down that remains somewhat rough.
I believe the new labels have just arrived and 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 find both an aged version as well as some White Dog selling in the neighborhood of $30.00 to $40.00. They are currently only making two versions of the same product: aged and un-aged rye. So far their emphasis seems to be on making the right mixer for cocktails.