By Father John Rayls
Rye whiskey is made from a mashbill comprised of at least 51% rye. Michter’s Single Barrel Straight Rye Whiskey is at the forefront of the resurgence of rye popularity here in the States. It’s an NAS (no age statement) offering bottled at 84.8 proof. Michter’s has garnered for itself a cult status among it’s many devoted followers of which I am one. The history of the American rye experience has shown itself to be highly volatile. It’s loved, it’s ignored, it’s loved, it’s ignored and now it’s once again experiencing a renewed love affair by a broad spectrum of whiskey consumers. Many famous people have been involved in the great rye love affair from George Washington to Al Capone to many current celebrities. In many ways it could be argued that rye is THE true American spirit. It was at the heart of The Whiskey Rebellion from 1791 to 1794.(Canadian “rye” operates under different laws and regulations and all Canadian whiskey is often referred to as rye) It tends to be spicey and can bring a sweet/spicey combo to the glass depending on the mashbill. Rye is often used as one of the 3 grains (typically) used to make bourbon for a more peppery taste experience. Of course, the Straight Rye designation requires a minimum of 2 years aging in new charred oak barrels. If there is no age statement, the rye should be aged at least 4 years. However, Michter’s guarantees at least 3 years aging.
The color in the bottle appears as dark copper, but is slightly lighter in the glass. There are shiny brass highlights in the rye when observed in either. The legs appear quickly and are everywhere at once. They are mostly on the thin side, but seem to multiply rapidly. The bottle and labeling are typical for Michter’s with an appearance of age using the green and red lettering. The nose draws you into the total experience. It’s lightly spicey built on a foundation of caramel/vanilla, sweet corn and aged leather. Take your time with this part.
There is a light coating of the mouth as most of the palate activity takes place from mid-tongue to the back of the mouth. It’s sweet and light filling the taste buds with a moderate Kraft Caramel memory from my childhood. (Could you ever simply walk past a bowl of those without grabbing a few?) The finish is long and satisfying. It starts at the back of the throat and somehow also starts up the tip of the tongue at the same time. It’s spicey and even peppery, but never over stays its welcome. It is a very welcome finish to a very enjoyable taste experience.
This is not a complex whiskey. In fact, many might consider it a very typical taste for the American spirit. The difference is that Michter’s Single Barrel Straight Rye Whiskey simply does it right. This is a very enjoyable, very drinkable rye whiskey that does not over-power the consumer, but presents the rye experience in a true and appealing fashion. It’s very sippable neat or on the rocks. It is available across the country at under $50.00. Tell them Father John sent you…