A slight sting to the back of the nostrils is prevalent with the first dive into the glass. The nose is coming off a bit hotter than the proof would suggest, which is not uncommon for a rye whiskey. Even with the slight burn, sweet notes of orange peel, lemongrass, and citrus jump out of the glen initially. Rich vanilla takes over next, with an almost custard-like aroma. Subtle notes of black pepper and clove follow. This noses like a rye whiskey, but the longer I let it sit, the more “bourbon esque” it becomes.
An explosion of fresh, rich fruits and citrus dominate the front of the palate. The flavors on the tip of the tongue are reminiscent of a stick of Juicy Fruit gum. Center of the palate holds true with creamy vanilla custard notes, as the rye spice starts to make itself known. Allspice, clove, black pepper, and even a slight barrel char presents itself on the back of the palate, leaving that wonderful rye tingle I love in a good whiskey. Sweetness is still present from start to finish, but I could be convinced this is a high rye bourbon.
Some Kentucky hug is present, even for barely legal rye at 94 proof. Pleasant rye spice does coat the back of the tongue, but it is not overpowering. For being a lower-proof whiskey, it sticks to the sides and back of the palate better than I anticipated. Overall, a medium finish, but seems longer thanks to the noticeable rye tingle lingering for a few moments after sipping.
Another solid rye whiskey offering coming out of Heaven Hill. Based on the past success of the Elijah Craig brand, I am assuming this will be their new mainstay rye whiskey on shelves for years to come. This is a bourbon drinker’s rye. Given the consistent sweetness throughout, it is very friendly for those wanting to branch out into rye territory. This bottle has just enough rye bite, therefore it can be enjoyed neat or in a cocktail. I look forward to blinding this in the near future against other budget rye whiskey staples to see how it fares.
Maximum Price I Would Pay: $38