A somewhat oak forward rye but in a charming way rather than an oak stave between the eyes. A nice upward progression in terms of quality/taste in this rye.
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 whom are water supplies also for the city of Rochester and known for the taste ad 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 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. The review of their first attempt Batch one which was aged in 5 gallon barrels for 3 months ( about all you can get from a 5 gallon barrel depending on char level and storage conditions ) is here, The next release that I have reviewed was Batch 4 using 10 gallon barrels and aged for 6-9 months 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 an extremely limited release of their Pilot Batch of Bourbon along with their Red Absinthe and a more standard Green Absinthe.
This is their 6th Batch of rye and it was put up in 15 gallon barrels and aged for 9 months which is 3 times longer than their first batch in a barrel 1/3 the size of this one. Like everyone else they did this for rapid aging, and prototyping . Like many others they have since abandoned the use of 5 , 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. Further reviews of later batches using larger barrels and longer aging times are found elsewhere in Spirits Review as they become available. Please use our search function to give them a look !
Notes: The rye 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 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, barley and mint .
Taste: Woody, spicy, slightly minty, honey with loads of grain with a slightly drying, nicely warming finish. But the oak char is less overbalanced than the previous release . Quite a bit of oak char and a drying kick to it but a bit more settled. Think of a lighter, kinder, gentler version of the Balcones Brimstone. Plenty of oak without being a barrel stave between the eyes.
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 750 ML bottle that is vaguely apothecary like in nature BUT not the usual bell shaped bottle, with 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 from such a new distillery , the oak is a bit more than I would prefer but it does work well that way in certain cocktails . 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. It needs updating in a few places but is a well done site overall if a bit minimal compared to some