Minnesota Spirits Fest 2018

Minnesota was perhaps a little late to join the swell of craft distilleries in this country. It wasn’t until 2011, when legislation passed significantly lowering the fee to open a distillery, that the state’s own craft spirits boom finally got its fuse lit. It was about time, too as Minnesota has quite a bit to offer a homegrown distillery. With an abundance of different grains, oak for barrels, botanicals, and fruits, it’s a state full of natural resources just begging to be made into booze. Fast forward to 2018, and it seems as if the scene has reached a moment of stability; products have been developed, and are on the shelves of stores and bars, cocktail rooms are open and hopping, and some long-term goals are actually in sight or have even been met.

Which makes the timing of the recent Minnesota Spirits Fest event pretty spot on. Sixteen distilleries set up shop in the Museum of Russian Art and poured spirits and cocktails to a sold-out, presumably thirsty crowd of 300. This great event was put on by the Minnesota Distillers Guild and was sponsored by the very active, enthusiastic, and presumably very thirsty local chapter of Women Who Whiskey. The space, an old church transformed into a museum, was a novel, possibly brave choice from an art conservation standpoint, and gave the event a rather luxurious feel. I will not write at length about the basement gallery, but will say that for a good 30 minutes, I was so truly captivated by the Matryoshka exhibit that I didn’t drink a thing.

Outside of that, however, I spent a fair amount of time drinking. My overall impression of the spirits on offer was one of high quality and successful experimentation. There was a lot of local-ness happening, and not just because the stills are located in state. Those natural resources I mentioned earlier are definitely living up to their boozy potential. Rather than rambling on and on, and getting overly verbose and long-winded and garrulous, I’m just going to mention, in no particular order, a few of the many highlights of the evening…

  • Isanti Spirits‘ Tilted Cedars Gin is always a pleasure, as is their Rye and Sunken Bobber Bourbon. Isanti’s Rick Schneider was excited to point out that his bourbon is now a straight bourbon and both whiskeys are being matured only in full-sized barrels.
  • Dampfwerk Distillery’s absolutely beautiful bottles are full of relatively fresh interpretations of old world brandies and liqueurs, including the standout Helgolander, a medicinal German-style bitter, and the surprising Rabbit in the Rye, a spiced, herbal treat built on a sourced Tennessee whiskey base.
  • Twin Spirits Distillery’s Mamma’s Moonshine is a fairly novel spirit distilled from honey that offered a clean, subtle, smooth take on its base ingredient. Very exciting to learn that owner and distiller Michelle Winchester has been experimenting with several different woods with which to age this one.
  • Du Nord Craft Spirits’ Fitzgerald Gin is their flavorful, macerated take on the London dry style. I also had the chance to try a nearly straight-from-the-barrel, un-labeled bourbon that was pretty damn bold and heralded good things to come as did the news that owner and head distiller Chris Montana is planning on experimenting with some very unusual grains in the near future.
  • I’ll refrain from making any “holy spirit” type jokes…

    Far North Spirits has been a consistent leader in this nascent movement. Along with their excellent estate-grown, grain to glass gins and ryes, they have just bottled their first bourbon, the Bødalen, a vibrant, high-rye balancing act of good distillate and youthful oak.

  • Duluth’s Vikre Distillery has a trio of really good, really interesting gins lead by their Boreal Cedar Gin. They also have Emily Vikre, their co-founder and “arbiter of taste.” In addition to presiding over the many spirits made at Vikre, Emily has created a line of blended whiskey called Honor Brand. The first release, Hay & Sunshine, is an interesting, well-put-together mix of bourbon, Scotch, and Rye.
  • The Brother Justus Whiskey Company is named after a Benedictine monk who reputedly lived in Stearns County, MN during Prohibition and helped many a farmer-turned-moonshiner make their stills. This newish distillery has been flying under the radar and has only surfaced very recently. Their Minnesota-grown single malt spirit was surprisingly, pleasantly, sweet and smooth.

All in all, this was an excellent event, a perfect snapshot of where craft distilling is at in the state. It was obviously good to see so many people enthusiastic about home-grown spirits. It was also great to see the camaraderie between the distilleries; there’s a lot of mutual support and admiration happening which can only benefit the scene. I’m definitely looking forward to this becoming an ever-evolving, yearly showcase.

 

 

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Stranahan’s Sherry Cask Colorado Single Malt Whiskey – Review

*Sincere thanks to Stranahan’s and Exposure PR for the sample.

Ok, I’ll try to make this will be the last time I mention that great 2016 trip to Stranahan’s. One of the highlights of that first Cask Thief event was trying some three year old whiskey that had been aged for an additional two years in a 40 year old Oloroso sherry butt. It was a rich, complex young whiskey that seemed to balance the Stranahan’s house style and the sherry well. At the time, I reported that the distillery hadn’t done much experimenting with sherry casks and unfortunately, there wouldn’t be anything like this on the shelves in the near future. Shows how much I know…

Stranahan’s Sherry Cask Colorado Single Malt Whiskey was first released late in 2017 and will be part of the core lineup alongside the Original and the Diamond Peak. This one was created from four year old whiskeys that had been finished for an undisclosed amount of time in 40 year old Oloroso butts. Note that while a lot of sherry-matured whiskeys make use of new oak casks that have been seasoned with new, base-level sherries, this whiskey rested for a while in old casks that had held sherry for a loooooong time. One of the reasons I was excited about the sherry cask I tried at the distillery was, to me, the Stranahan’s flavor profile of strong oak, dark fruit, vanilla and chocolate would seem to play very well with the influence a sherry cask might impart. So, with that in mind, I’m glad to see this new addition to the Stranahan’s range hit the shelves.

The Nose:  A surprising amount of sherry right off the bat. There’s candied almonds, fudge brownies with nuts, spiced orange, cherry pie filling, and raisins. Notes of fruitcake, lemon oil polish, and subtle malt syrup follow. Subdued oak with a bit too much of that lemon furniture polish applied, along with baking spices – vanilla bean, nutmeg, clove and candied ginger – and a faint hint of oiled leather.

The Palate:  Initially quite zippy with a familiar oily mouthfeel and…lots of sherry. More candied almonds, cherry cough syrup, plump raisins, and juicy citrus. After that, maple extract, burnt sugar, a bit more dry fruit cake, along with salted mixed nuts, and melted dark chocolate. Stronger youthful oak –  grippy, rough-sawn boards.  Hot cinnamon, vanilla bean, clove, ginger, and black pepper. This gets a little hot and quite bitter towards the end.

The Finish:  Slightly numbing and a little too bitter with cola, burnt sugar, tannic oak, woody cinnamon, ginger and black pepper dust.

Thoughts:  Fairly decent, but also a little confusing. For a slightly older than four year old whiskey, I thought this lacked the richness of the Diamond Peak. And at the same time thought it was a little too influenced by those old Oloroso casks. The nose had an interesting complexity, with a paler, more amontillado-like feel. The palate was more Oloroso-like, though still relatively fresh and lively seeming. The wood influence grows throughout and, by the finish, gets to be a bit too astringent. As I said, the Stranahan’s profile seems a great match for sherry cask maturation, but in this case, the sherry influence felt perhaps too heavy, and overwhelmed the richer aspects of the four year old malt, amplifying some of the younger, woodier harsher aspects. While this one is not quite there, the general idea is a worthy addition to the brand and I’m certainly looking forward to future batches.

Stranahan’s Sherry Cask Colorado Single Malt Whiskey, +/- 2017, Batch #1

47% ABV

Score:  80


 

Stranahan’s Diamond Peak Colorado Single Malt Whiskey – Review

*Sincere thanks to Stranahan’s and Exposure PR for the sample.

During a trip in 2016 to Denver’s Stranahan’s Distillery, I had the opportunity to spend some time with Rob Dietrich, the head distiller. Rob’s a character to be sure, and he’s a good storyteller. Over the years, he’s effectively been the face of the brand. He began working at Stranahan’s in the early days of the company, and when the distillery was sold to Proximo Spirits in 2010, he took over the lead role from the departing Jake Norris. In my write-up of that trip, I mentioned that, as much of a character as Rob is, he’s also pretty humble about it all – he sees himself more as a steward of the brand than a “master distiller.” That does not, however, mean that he hasn’t left his mark. When he became the head distiller, Stranahan’s had just the one yellow-labeled Original expression. Under Rob’s guidance, three other expressions have joined the range.

The first of these, Stranahan’s Snowflake, showcases the whiskey after it’s been finished in a variety of wine and spirits casks. It began life as a twice-a-year special release, and today is a coveted limited edition, sold at the distillery only on one day in December. Rob’s second creation, this Stranahan’s Diamond Peak Colorado Single Malt Whiskey, debuted in 2015 and from the beginning was slated to have much wider distribution. Compared to the Original, the Diamond Peak is sort of a distiller’s reserve/select kind of thing – this is Dietrich’s interpretation of the Stranahan ideal. The whiskeys used are at least four years old in contrast to the Original’s two-to-five year old age range. As with the Original, whiskeys used in the Diamond Peak have been matured in new American white oak barrels that have first been toasted, then charred to a #3 char.

The Nose:  A fairly rich and fruity nose. Initially, there’s tart apples with caramel sauce, cola, clover honey, and a bit of overripe cantaloupe. Close behind, French vanilla ice cream, and semi-sweet chocolate chips in warm chocolate chip cookies. There’s just a hint of slightly sweet, slightly beery toasted grain. The oak is polished and integrated with warmed cinnamon, vanilla bean, subtle clove and faint peppercorns

The Palate:  Really nice, creamy, oily mouthfeel. Much of the sweetness from the nose carries over – dark honey, vanilla syrup, cherry cola, and bruised apples. There’s lots more chocolate here, both milky and dark, with hints of nutty fudge and gingerbread. The oak is sturdy and strongly tannic with lots of cinnamon and vanilla bean, clove, candied ginger, and nutmeg.

The Finish:  Lingering and more-ish. A bit of that cola-esque sweetness fades early, leaving cocoa nibs, grippy oak, ground pepper, and baking spices to fade more slowly.

Thoughts:  Really good stuff. The Diamond Peak is my favorite Stranahan’s expression thanks to its balanced mix of dark sweetness and vibrant oak. This one progresses nicely, nose to finish, from a sweet fruity whiskey, to a spicy oaky one, with enough youthful complexity to keep things interesting along the way. While the average price of around $70-$75 is about $20 more than the yellow label Original, the Diamond Peak would be my pick if you’re looking to check out the brand. Recommended.

Stranahan’s Diamond Peak Colorado Single Malt Whiskey, Batch #21, +/- 2017

47% ABV

Score:  85


 

Stranahan’s Original Colorado Single Malt Whiskey – Review

*Sincere thanks to Stranahan’s and Exposure PR for the sample.

The summer before last, I had the opportunity to visit Denver, CO and Stranahan’s Distillery for their first Cask Thief event. It was a great opportunity to see a bit of the area and get to know this elder statesman of American single malt whiskey a little better. Granted, Stranahan’s isn’t really all that old, having got its start in 2004, but the American single malt scene is a fairly young one, so in that regard, the distillery is an old-timer. At the aforementioned event, we had the chance to try, straight from the cask, several different, somewhat unusual barrels which painted an even more complex picture of the whiskey being made there.

Here we are a year and a half later, and with the release in late 2017 of Stranahan’s Sherry Cask expression, I figured it was as good a time as any to revisit this stalwart craft brand starting with their flagship yellow label Stranahan’s Original Colorado Single Malt Whiskey. Over the years, this whiskey has been released in batches and has had both its age and flavor profile evolve somewhat as the maturing stocks grow. Stranahan’s borrows more than a bit from beer brewing in its production, especially in the wort and wash phases which in general favor a more sanitized, filtered process versus what you regularly see in single malt Scotch production. Distillation occurs in squat, hybrid pot/column stills, while maturation happens in new American White Oak barrels that have been first toasted, then charred (at a #3 level char for those counting) by Independent Stave. Currently, the Original is made up of whiskeys ranging from two to five years old. Please note that there is a bit of variation between batches, and while I was not given the exact batch number for this sample, it’s from either #190, #191, #192, 193, or #194. I know…that doesn’t really narrow it down. In any case, they’re now on batch #202, so do with that what you will.

The Nose:  A fruity sweetness and quite a bit of wood influence. Honeycrisp apples dipped in warm caramel sauce along with candied orange slices and a bit of cherry cola. Vanilla bean ice cream, cocoa powder, and a hint of lemon zest. The oak is rather prominent and a little edgy with hints of fresh sawn boards. Baking spice notes, almost gingerbread-esque, with sticky vanilla bean, warm cinnamon, faint clove, and nutmeg, along with a faint whiff of dried mint.

The Palate:  Lightly oily mouthfeel, with lots of sugared sweetness initially. Toasted marshmallow, more caramel apple, vanilla syrup, and crème brûlée. The chocolate is back as well, but it’s darker now, and barely sweetened. The strong oak carries through, too with rough sawn boards, tannic and grippy. There’s continued vanilla bean, clove, and cinnamon with Tellichery peppercorns and a hint of star anise. A subtle, almost herbal grainy quality carries through to the finish.

The Finish:  Burnt sugar sweetness, more marshmallow and caramel, fade first, with tannic oak, vanilla bean, cinnamon, and peppercorns lingering the longest

Thoughts:  The Stranahan’s Original is still a good whiskey. It’s a young, oaky whiskey, but it manages to not seem as young as it is, and pulls off its barrel-forward flavor profile by incorporating a balanced, sweetness, and just enough hints of the raw distillate to keep things interesting. It’s not the most earth-shattering, complex whiskey in the world, but it remains straightforward and distinctive, nicely establishing the distillery’s house style. Price seems to vary pretty widely for this one, from around $45 to $65 with occasional options outside that range. I think it’s a good whiskey to explore on the low end of that scale, but on the higher end, I think I’d opt to shell out a bit more for the even more refined Diamond Peak.

Stranahan’s Original Colorado Single Malt Whiskey, +/-2017 (See above for batch # info)

47% ABV

Score:  83


 

 

Jameson Caskmates IPA Edition Irish Whiskey – Review

*Sincere thanks to Irish Distillers, Jameson, and Ketchum for the sample.

For this year’s St. Patrick’s Day’s Irish whiskey review, I thought we’d take a look at  St. Francis. Ok, perhaps more specifically, the Franciscans, the religious orders and sects that follow the teachings of St. Francis. What the hell, let’s narrow it down even further and talk about the water sources used by those often monk-ish followers. Alright, maybe just one water source, like maybe a spring or a well? Oooooo, wouldn’t it be great if there was a brewery that was named after a water source used by the followers of St. Francis?

Ah, well, what do you know…the luck of the Irish!

The Franciscan Well Brewery in Cork was founded in 1998 by a man named Shane Long on the former site of a Franciscan monastery that dates back to 1219. It’s one of the oldest “craft” breweries in Ireland and has been an important and well-regarded part of that scene. In 2013, the brewery was purchased by Molson Coors, though operations are still helmed by Mr. Long.

I mention all this not because I’m interested in St. Francis or wells, at least not any more or less than what’s considered socially acceptable, but because the Franciscan Well Brewery figures pretty significantly into Jameson’s Caskmates series. Back in 2014, the distillery released, in Ireland only, an experimental expression that consisted of their standard blend finished in ex-Jameson barrels that had been turned over to Franciscan Well to age their stout in. The resulting whiskey was met with enough approval, that a second, much wider release of the Caskmates Stout Edition happened in 2015. A couple of years later, in late 2017, the Jameson Caskmates IPA Edition Irish Whiskey was released. Collaborating once again with the Franciscan Well Brewery, this one has gone through pretty much the same process as the stout edition except the stout has been replaced by an IPA. In this case, Jameson has one again handed a number of barrels over to the brewery, who aged their Chieftain IPA in the barrels for while, and once they were emptied, handed the barrels back over to Jameson. The barrels were then filled with the standard Jameson blended whiskey and aged for an undisclosed amount of time. It’s worth noting that the brewery (and several reviews) describe the Chieftain IPA as a more easy-drinking, approachable, Irish take on the usually heavily hopped, relatively bitter IPA style.

The Nose:  Quite sweet, light-ish, and somewhat different. Floral honey drizzled on ruby red grapefruit pulp, tart applesauce, and a bit of lime. On the less fruity-sweet side of things, there’s some subtle, faintly herbal fresh hop notes, semi-sweet chocolate, and lemon oil. The oak is quite subdued with sanded boards, vanilla, and anise candy.

The Palate:  Lightly creamy mouthfeel with more honeyed sweetness right away. More citrus as well, with lemon zest, pulpy grapefruit, and a hint of Rose’s lime juice. A subtle herbal hoppiness present here as well, but it’s relatively faint and integrated. Some bitter chocolate and a few salted nuts provide a nice counterpoint to bright fruity sweetness. The oak has more tannic bite and spice, with vanilla bean, ginger candies, and white peppercorns.

The Finish:  That bright, honeyed citrus continues for a while, as does the slightly peppery, ginger-y bit of spice.

Thoughts:  Interesting, and ultimately pretty enjoyable. The standard Jameson is a fairly simple and light canvas with which to paint a finish on, so one would assume it wouldn’t take too much to add to its flavor profile. And the IPA Cask manages to not add too much, which actually works out well. While the nose is rather reserved and somewhat uninspiring, the palate makes up for it with a very pleasant, juicy, slightly herbal, citrus-y burst. There are some subtle, hoppy beer notes, but mostly the influence of those finishing casks seems to come through in that faint herbal quality and the bright, fresh-squeezed citrus quality. Lively, easy-drinking stuff that, for around $25-$30/bottle is certainly a worthwhile step up from ye olde basic Jameson.

Jameson Caskmates IPA Edition, Irish Blended, +/-2017

40% ABV

Score:  83

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Sources:

 

 

 

Isaac Bowman Port Barrel Finished Straight Bourbon Whiskey – Review

*Sincere thanks to Sazerac and A. Smith Bowman Distillery for the sample.

The A. Smith Bowman Distillery in Fredericksburg, Virginia is a bit of an odd set-up. It can trace its roots back to 1935, when, right after Prohibition ended, a man named Abram Smith Bowman opened up a distillery in what is now Reston. The distillery’s biggest seller was their Virginia Gentleman Bourbon. In 1988, faced with soaring real estate prices so close to Washington D.C., A. Smith Bowman relocated south to Fredericksburg. In 2003, the business was purchased by Sazerac. This is when things start to get a little different.

If I understand it all correctly, Sazerac basically outsources the production, through the first distillation, of all A. Smith Bowman bourbons to its Buffalo Trace distillery. Then that first run spirit is sent to A. Smith Bowman for its second distillation and maturation. Adding to this rather unique approach is Bowman’s interesting array of old and new pot stills (not often used in the bourbon world), and column stills. They also warehouse their barrels by standing them on their ends instead of on their sides (also not often done in the bourbon world.) So, while the mash and first run distillate used might not have much of a distinct character on its own, A. Smith Bowman does put its own unique stamp on the whiskeys it produces.

The Isaac Bowman Port Barrel Finished Straight Bourbon Whiskey continues the distillery’s tradition of naming its bourbons after members of the Bowman family. Isaac Bowman was the great, great-uncle of the distillery’s founder, and was one of four brothers who played a significant role in the American Revolutionary War and early American history in general. After serving as an officer in Clark’s Northwestern Campaign, Bowman was captured in 1779 by a Chickasaw tribe and was presumed dead. Held first as a prisoner, then later reportedly adopted by another tribe, legend has it that Bowman eventually somehow escaped to Cuba and by 1782 had made it safely back to Virginia. After that, he settled down, became a farmer, and had 13 children. To be honest, after a wartime ordeal like Isaac’s, I would think it might be difficult to settle down in such a manner. Although, perhaps after a time like that, maybe moving out to the country, growing some turnips and making a small army of kids is just what the doctor ordered.

In any case, released at the end of 2017, the Isaac Bowman Straight Bourbon is part of the A. Smith Bowman standard range, an everyday version of their highly regarded A. Smith Bowman Port Finish release from a couple of years ago. While the official verbage does not give an age, some sources claim it’s in the four to six year old range. The bourbon has been finished in a variety of ex-port casks – some American Oak from several different states and some European Oak from France – for a period of three to six months.

The Nose:  A taut and guardedly complex nose. Those sour apple flavored honey sticks, and cherry cough syrup lead the sweet side of things along with a little navel orange, orgeat syrup, and a hint of vin Santo. Behind that, there’s semi-sweet chocolate chips, chocolate mint leaf, candied nuts, toasted grain, and caramel corn. The oak and spice are relatively subdued with nutmeg, clove and faint star anise..

The Palate:  Quite a unique palate for a bourbon. Initially there’s a bracing mix of cherry juice, oranges, and raisins, with hints of light molasses and dark honey. Lots more nutty chocolate here as well; candied almonds, dark chocolate, salted peanuts, and a hint of mint chocolate. Stronger, more tannic oak notes than the nose – sanded boards. There are more prominent spice notes, too, with cloves, warming cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, and black pepper on warm popcorn.

The Finish:  Lengthy, with tart cherry, brown sugar, salted nuts, grippy oak, nutmeg, ginger, and barrel char.

Thoughts:  Quite good and quite unusual, which, seeing as unusual can often be not that good, is quite good and unusual in and of itself. The port finish plays a major part in flavoring this whiskey, but it manages to do so in a fairly refined and integrated way. The fruit and nutty chocolate notes, especially on the palate, are not completely unfamiliar in the bourbon world, but they do stand out as being different while at the same time working well with the more expected oak and spice. I’ve not tried that A. Smith Bowman Port Finish release, but on the few other occasions I’ve tried other wine or port finished bourbons, I’ve usually ended up enjoying them. The Isaac Bowman is no exception. With a relatively reasonable price tag of around $40, definitely recommended.

Isaac Bowman Straight Bourbon Whiskey Finished in Port Barrels, +/-2017

46% ABV

Score:  86


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Tattersall Distilling Straight Rye Whiskey – Review

*Sincere thanks to Tattersall Distilling and Steve Gill for the sample and information.

The inspiration for Tattersall Distilling’s Straight Rye Whiskey is the nearly extinct Monongahela Rye style that begin life in the late 1700’s along the Monongahela River in southwestern Pennsylvania. The Monongahela style was defined by its heavy use of rye, a crop which farmers had an abundance of, but initially no real means of efficient transportation. So, often faced with a surplus, the Northern European settlers of the area did what they always did, they brewed it and they distilled it. Corn was not yet a common crop in the region, so the whiskeys of this time were usually almost all rye with perhaps a bit of malted barley to aid in fermentation. Thus, with its very high rye content, Monongahela ryes were known to be more robust, and grain forward, often quite young, and brash compared to the milder Maryland style rye.

Tattersall co-founders Dan Oskey and Jon Kreidler started dreaming about creating a rye shortly after they began dreaming about creating the distillery. It’s a spirit that they say has been in the plan since day one. Tattersall’s lineup is diverse and numerous compared to most craft distilleries, but most of their stuff goes from the still to the bottle in a relatively short amount of time. This straight rye whiskey on the other hand has taken over two years to create. It is a decidedly Minnesotan product, and while it’s not the first to showcase its local-ness, it is another important demonstration of how much potential the state has to be a unique distilling powerhouse. The grain was grown and harvested from a single farm located in Cambridge, MN, fairly close to the Twin Cities. The spirit was aged in casks made in Minnesota by Black Swan Cooperage from Minnesota-grown oak. The mashbill for this whiskey is 85% rye and 15% malted rye. The use of malted rye is going to produce a different, possibly heavier flavor, and may also help a bit in fermentation. Tattersall’s Straight Rye has been aged for two years in 30 gallon barrels. This initial run (around 2,000 bottles) will only be available in Minnesota with other markets getting in on the action when a larger second batch is comes out in the fall.

The Nose:  Sweetness and grain. The sweeter side is Demerara sugar, tangerine peel, cherry cola, and baked apples with cinnamon. The rye is strong, sturdy and upfront, but not overbearing with toasted grains and rye crackers. Behind that are notes of roasted walnuts, unroasted coffee beans, and a little burnt sugar. There’s a beguiling herbal quality as well, dried herbs and subtle hint of damp, mossy rocks. The oak is present, but not too strong with allspice, vanilla bean, clove, and a faint hint of aniseed.

The Palate:  This has a really nice, creamy mouthfeel. More dark sugars early along with cherry cough syrup, cola, and blood orange. Roasted salted nuts. and baker’s chocolate lead to more strong, integrated rye – toasty grains with herbal, greenish overtones. The oak is stronger and more prominent throughout the palate with astringent, grippy tannins, sharp-edged wood, vanilla bean, Vietnamese cinnamon, young ginger, and a little clove.

The Finish:  That dark sugar and cola sweetness is quickly taken over by the tannic oak, and toasted, herbal rye. Peppery toasted grain lingers the longest.

Thoughts:  This grew quite a bit on me in the span of one glass. Initially, it seemed young and reserved, but as it quickly opened up, it became much more expressive and complex. Given co-founder Dan Oskey’s lauded career as a bartender/cocktail guru, it should come as no surprise that this is well-executed stuff and really pretty satisfying on several levels. True to style, it’s youthful and brash, but also fairly balanced and smooth. It certainly holds its own as a straight sipper, is quite nice over ice, and thanks to its strong rye character and high ABV, also makes for a dynamic base spirit in cocktails. Tattersall has picked a style of whiskey that suits both their distillate and, probably, their desire to get a whiskey on the shelves relatively quickly. They could easily have gone the route of so many other craft distilleries and bottled this closer to 40% and priced it for $50 or more. Instead, with its relatively high ABV and relatively low price of around $35, the Tattersall Rye is a rare and special thing in the craft spirit world…a damn good first whiskey that’s well worth the money. Definitely recommended, especially if you’re a Minnesotan.

Tattersall Distilling Straight Rye Whiskey, +/- 2018

50% ABV

Score: 85


Sources: