A decent start that showed some hope.
Notes: Honeoye Falls Distillery is one of the newer distilleries in the Rochester and Finger Lakes area. Located about 30 minutes south of Rochester it is nestled in the hill and drumlins of the Finger Lakes area and draws its water from the nearby Finger Lakes of Canadice and Hemlock Lakes. Both of those lakes are water supplies also for the city of Rochester and known for the taste and purity of their water. They use a second generation ( as I call it, as significant improvements have been made over the first models) Artisan Still Works stainless steel steam fired still with a column and copper inserts. This is their aged rye spirit called Red Saw Rye Whiskey made with the same grain mash bill as their vodka but brought off at a lower proof to preserve the flavors and characteristics to a greater degree than the Frozen Falls Vodka and aged in small barrels. They also produce an unaged rye by the name of Lantern Light Rye Moonshine, a gin called Devils Bathtub Gin, a barrel aged Gin called Devils Bathtub Rested Gin and a few releases of their bourbon such as the extremely limited release Bourbon Batch 1 (AKA The Pilot Batch) along with their Red Absinthe and a more standard Green Absinthe.
This is Honeoye Falls Distillery (HFD) first attempt at making a rye and it was put up in 5 gallon barrels. Like everyone else they did this for rapid aging, and prototyping . Like many others they have since abandoned the use of 5 gallon barrels and indeed 10, 15, and even the 30 gallon barrels are on their way out as they transition to 53 gallon fresh American oak barrels in their quest for longer and better aging of their spirits.
Notes: The rye whiskey is made from 85% very locally grown rye and 15% of the mash bill is a 6 row malted barley from Pioneer Malting, our local Maltster. The grain is literally grown next door to the distillery – giving it much smaller carbon footprint than many and also locavore .
Appearance: Clear, nice lightly golden color like a honey colored Baltic amber or tree sap. On swirling it coats the glass with a mildly oily coat then starts to show droplets along the edge line which slowly on the retreat of the edge line become small droplets or tears.
First Impression: Lovely barrel notes , with heavy rye notes with the characteristic sweet and sour, bready notes, traces of heather, mint .
Taste: Woody, spicy, slightly minty, honey with loads of grain with a slightly drying, nicely warming finish. But the oak char is rather overbalanced.
Drinks: Rye was the predominant spirit in America long before bourbon and was the spirit used in almost all the classic cocktails that use bourbon today such as the Manhattan or Old Fashioned .
With the recent revival of rye we are seeing a resurgence of the use of rye in these cocktails again and retaking its rightful place place in mixing drinks. This rye with its grain forward and well balanced woodiness makes a delightful Manhattan ( please use a fresh and quality vermouth), Old Fashioned , Sazerac , Old Pal or Boulevardier .
It also works well in a cocktail calling for a lighter ( read less smoky) Scotch .
Bottle: Clear glass 375 ML bottle that is vaguely apothecary like in nature BUT not the usual bell shaped bottle. A slightly concave bottom, rounded shoulders and a wider lip to the collar both fits the hand and is easy to pick up. The label is distinctive and easy to see at a distance or in poor light and graphics are high quality. This bottle is distinguished from its sister bottle ( of the Red Saw bourbon whiskey) by a cream colored field and capital letters with red and the rest of the letters in black. Bottle is topped by an attractive wooden top and a cream/tan synthetic cork to finish a distinctive and nice looking bottle that sits nicely on a shelf.
Cigars: Great with a Fuente Hemingway Signature or Work of Art either a natural or Madura wrapper
Final Thoughts: Impressive for such a young rye whiskey from such a new distillery , but the oak buries a fair amount of the grain. Scores are based against similar whiskies of longer age and larger barrel size . Very few distillery do well with young whiskey in small barrels. That fact that it was drinkable and somewhat pleasant and interesting is more than I can say about a number of other local distilleries ( indeed anywhere) when they start making whiskies.
A well laid out and fast loading site with easy navigation and a fair amount of information. The webpage needs updating in a few places but is a well done site overall if a bit minimal compared to some