EZdrinking

Searching for the world's best drinks and what makes them extraordinary.

Searching for the world's best drinks and what makes them extraordinary. EZdrinking is a drinks blog by Eric Zandona that focuses on distilled spirits, wine, craft beer and specialty coffee. Here you can find reviews of drinks, drink books, articles about current & historical trends, as well as how to make liqueurs, bitters, and other spirit based drinks at home.

Filtering by Tag: Rye Whiskey

Review: Jim Beam Pre-prohibition Style Rye

Owned by Beam Suntory, Jim Beam Pre-prohibition Style Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey is distilled at the one of the Jim Beam distilleries in Kentucky and bottled at 45% ABV.

Price: $16-$25

In early 2015, Jim Beam launched a reformation of their straight rye whiskey. But, as far as anyone can tell, the only difference between the old Jim Beam Rye (with a yellow label) and the new Pre-Prohibition Style Rye is that the label is now green and the whiskey is bottled at 45% ABV rather than 40% ABV. However, we do know that because there is no age statement on the bottle the whiskey inside must be at least 4 years old. This is one of the odd quirks of US labeling laws in that any whiskey aged less than four years must say how old it is but, no age statement is required at 4 or more years. We also know that since this is a straight rye whiskey it was aged in new charred oak barrels and that it has at least 51% rye grain in its mash bill. The rest of the mash bill isn't public but a reasonable guess puts it at 51% rye, 44-39% corn and 5-10% malted barley.

Jim Beam Rye has been around for decades and it is likely that this so-called reformulation, upping the proof to 90, is an attempt to say relevant in the booming rye whiskey category.  Rye whiskey has enjoyed renewed popularity these past few years, in part due to MGP and Whistle Pig. MGP based in Lawrenceburg, Indiana was once owned by Seagrams and made their easily identifiable 95% rye, 5% barley mash bill to blend into Seagrams 7 and other whiskeys. However, MGP now sells their spirits (rye whiskey, bourbon and even gin) to other companies that bottle it and sell it. Some of the most well know customers of MGP Rye are Bulleit, George Dickel, Templeton and High West. Whistle Pig on the other hand is buying a 100% rye whiskey from Alberta, Canada and bottling it in Vermont. Both of these whiskeys demonstrated the boldness and potential of rye whiskey and as a result, bartenders and whiskey drinkers were inspired to re-embrace a type of whiskey that mostly fallen out of favor.

Tasting Notes

Nose:  Immediately notes of vanilla and oak are carried up on a blast of alcohol, followed by baked apple, cinnamon and nutmeg. Once the whiskey has had some time to breathe a little, light fruity notes like blueberries or black currants comes through.

Palate:  The palate is sweet with a medium to full body and very harsh. After your palate adjusts to the alcohol, slightly spicy grain notes come through with strong oak flavor.

Finish:  The finish is short, slightly sweet and slightly spicy. Pleasant flavors of iced black tea are overshadowed by an odd note of raw dough.

Conclusion:  This is not a whiskey to drink neat. Jim Beam Pre-Prohibition Style Rye has lots of oak flavor and lots of heat from the alcohol, underlaid with only the faintest hints of rye spice. It makes an OK Manhattan that seems to plays up more of the herbal character of the Vermouth. All in all, I will not be buying another bottle. 

Exploring Bottled in Bond Whiskey

Not that long ago I read Bernie Lubbers' book Bourbon Whiskey - Our Native Spirit.  In the book he wrote fondly of bonded bourbon whiskey.  For those unfamiliar with the term bonded whiskey, also labeled as bottled in bond, refers to whiskey that has been: aged for at least 4 years, bottled at exactly 100 proof (50% alcohol), the product of one single distillery, and the product of one distilling season. To be honest, before reading his book, I hadn't thought much of bonded whiskeys. Most of what I saw seemed to occupy the bottom shelf in the liquor store or back bar of my local watering holes so I assumed they weren't as good as the whiskeys higher up on the shelf.  But, as I discovered in my blind tasting of inexpensive whiskies, price and enjoyment are not always correlated.

Inspired by Bernie's passion for bottled in bond whiskeys I've decided to search them out and allow myself to have an open mind.  According to Bernie's website there are now 17 commercially available bonded whiskeys, up from 13 just three years ago, and two others only available at the Jim Beam Visitor Center and the Heaven Hill Bourbon Heritage Center.

To the best of my knowledge all of these Bottled in Bond Whiskeys are available for retail purchase somewhere in the US. Updated: 7/3/16, 12/30/17, 06/12/19

California

Spirit Works Distillery

  1. Wheat Whiskey B.I.B.

Colorado

Laws Whiskey House

  1. A.D. Laws Four Grain Straight Bourbon B.I.B.

  2. A.D. Laws Secale Straight Rye B.I.B.

Spirit Hound Distillers

  1. Straight Malt Whiskey B.I.B.

Georgia

Old Fourth Distillery

  1. B.I.B. Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Kentucky

Brown-Forman

  1. Old Forester 1897 B.I.B.

  2. Early Times B.I.B.

Heaven Hill Distilleries

  1. Old Heaven Hill B.I.B.

  2. Heaven Hill 6 Year Old B.I.B.

  3. Evan Williams B.I.B

  4. Rittenhouse Rye B.I.B.

  5. Mellow Corn B.I.B.

  6. Old Fitzgerald B.I.B. (Discontinued)

  7. Old Fitzgerald B.I.B (Decanter Spring)

  8. Old Fitzgerald B.I.B (Decanter Fall)

  9. J.W. Dant B.I.B.

  10. J.T.S. Brown B.I.B.

  11. T.W. Samuels B.I.B.

  12. Henry McKenna 10yr Single Barrel B.I.B.

  13. William Heavenhill B.I.B. (Bourbon Heritage Center Only)

Jim Beam

  1. Jim Beam Bonded B.I.B.

  2. Old Grand Dad B.I.B.

  3. Old Tub B.I.B (only at Beam Visitor Center)

New Rift Distilling

  1. Bourbon B.I.B.

  2. Rye Whiskey B.I.B.

Sazerac Company: Buffalo Trace Distillery

  1. Very Old Barton 6 Year Old B.I.B.

  2. Colonel E. H. Taylor Small Batch B.I.B.

  3. Colonel E.H. Taylor Straight Rye B.I.B.

  4. Colonel E.H. Taylor Single Barrel B.I.B.

  5. 1792 B.I.B. Bourbon

The Old Pogue Distillery

  1. Old Maysville Club B.I.B. Kentucky Straight Rye Malt Whisky

Wilderness Trail Distillery

  1. Small Batch Bourbon B.I.B.

  2. Bourbon Single Barrel B.I.B.

Willett Distillery

  1. Old Bardstown B.I.B.

New York

Coppersea Spirits

  1. Bonticou Crag Straight Malt Rye Whiskey B.I.B.

Breuckelen Distilling

  1. 77 Whiskey Bonded Rye

  2. 77 Whiskey Bonded Rye & Corn

Finger Lakes Distilling

  1. McKenzie Bourbon Whiskey B.I.B.

Kings County Distillery

  1. B.I.B Straight Bourbon Whiskey

New York Distilling Company

  1. Ragtime Rye B.I.B.

Ohio

Tom's Foolery Distillery

  1. Ohio Straight Bourbon B.I.B.

Oregon

Oregon Spirit Distillers

  1. B.I.B. Bourbon Whiskey

  2. B.I.B. Wheat Whiskey

  3. J. Becher Straight American Rye Whiskey B.I.B.

Pennsylvania

Mountain Laurel Spirits

  1. Dad’s Hat Pennsylvania Straight Rye Whiskey B.I.B.

Wigle Whiskey

  1. Deep Cut B.I.B. Organic Straight Rye Whiskey

Tennessee

Brown-Forman

  1. Jack Daniels B.I.B. (Travel Retail Only)

Diageo: Cascade Hollow Distillery

  1. George Dickel TN Whisky B.I.B.

H Clark Distillery

  1. Tennessee Bourbon B.I.B.

Virginia

Catoctin Creek Distilling Company

  1. Rabble Rouser® Bottled In Bond Rye Whisky

My beverage biases

I want to acknowledge upfront that the tastings of spirits, beer, wine and coffee that I write about will be skewed by my own judgments and biases about different beverages. Like anyone else, these judgments and biases are formed out out my own life experiences and the physical limits of my ability to taste and smell. For example, I tend to enjoy drinking rye based whiskeys over wheated whiskeys, or I tend to like coffee made from lightly roasted beans more than dark roasted coffee. While drink writers very rarely write about their own biases, my hope is that by reflecting on them from time to time I may be able to improve my ability to think objectively about what I'm drinking and allow the reader to think critically about my or any other drink writer's work.

One of the primary judgments I make about beverages is that, if it isn't good on its own it's not worth drinking. While I do enjoy a good cocktail or cappuccino from time to time my first instinct is to drink the spirit or coffee on its own without adulteration. Which often means, given the choice between drinking something with a poor tasting base, gussied up to become palatable, and water, I'll chose water. One caveat to this is that, during graduate school I became willing to drink bad coffee with cream and or sugar, simply as a caffeine delivery device.