As a follow-up to last year's Battle of the Four Ryes, we proudly bring the latest taste testing results:
Hint: notice which one is empty. Uh-huh.
The Returning Champion, Knob Creek, was still very, very good. Maybe a hint more of wood than most ryes, this one will please the Bourbon drinkers. As an added plus, I've been finding it locally in the $32 range, considerably down from its former $50+. Maybe it tracks oil prices; I dunno, ask a Saudi prince.
Riverboat Rye... it's good. It is fairly light, might even have some kind of vanilla or floral notes, my nose can't quite distinguish these subtleties. For all that, it's still a rough-and-tumble rye. This is one for the Irish whisky drinkers, it's sort of Knappogue Castle's ruffian cousin. I could drink this stuff all day long with nary a problem, at least until I fell overboard.
Which brings us to High West Double Rye. This is, without question, the hands-down winner thus far for the die-hard neat rye drinker. Last year working from memory I judged it "all about the spice, sort of a 'more of what you came here for' proposition." Experimental confirmation has now been achieved to three standard deviations. This is a rye whisky for people who enjoy Thai food and sharp knives.
Now to avenues for further research. RI(1) ("rye one") has not been in the skirmishes yet. It is refined, perhaps surpassing Knob Creek, maybe a tad less woody and with more clean spicy flavor if memory serves. It still might yet beat out High West. After that, it comes down to the question of how good a Sazarac these two make.
But if you're making whisky sours or any other standard mixed drinks, don't even bother with these. Go back to the standby, go-to bottle: Old Overholt. "Good enough to sip, cheap enough to mix." If you're not a rye drinker, at a mere $14 it's a good one to keep on hand for guests. Invite me over, I'll help with any excess of this stuff you might have on hand.
To be continued.