Castle & Key Restoration Rye

I couldn’t help but find myself impressed with Restoration Rye’s bottle. It’s hefty, well-designed, and sports a weapons-grade stopper. Unfortunately, the stated age of “3” looks deceptively like an “8” and it’s not labeled straight. Let’s hope these are simple oversights.


Pour: Castle & Key Restoration Rye (2020, b. 1)
Proof: 103
Age: 3 years
Color: light amber
Nose: grain, pie dough, ethanol
Taste: peppered pear, Pledge polish, salt
Finish: moderately sour – bitter toffee, astringent oak


Overall: Look, I accept that youthful whiskey seldom tastes like well-aged whiskey, but Restoration Rye suffers from more than immaturity. It’s thin, lacking in sweetness, and wholly unpleasant from nose to finish. Restoration … it’s what your palate will need.

Rating: Rough.

Peerless Small Batch Rye

This is my second venture into Peerless Distilling Co.’s offerings. Today, I’m tasting Peerless Small Batch Rye Whiskey. Like the small batch bourbon, it’s bottled NCF at barrel proof. I assume batches and profiles vary. Let’s hope this rye fares better than the bourbon.


Pour: Peerless Small Batch Rye
Proof: 109.6 (barrel proof)
Age: not stated
Color: rich amber
Nose: sugar cookie, maple, buttered cinnamon bread
Taste: caramel creme, lemon frosting, vanilla extract
Finish: long & rich – English toffee, charred oak, cola


Overall: An exceptional pour. There’s complexity, depth, and a striking richness (almost syrup-like) that’s rarely found in younger Kentucky rye whiskeys. Peerless Small Batch Rye may not be cheap, but damn if it doesn’t taste expensive.

Rating: Legitimately impressive.

Pendleton 1910

For years, Pendleton 1910 was a bottle often seen but never purchased. After tasting a generous sample, I enjoyed it enough to acquire a bottle for myself. $40 for a 12-year Canadian rye whisky … not bad. Sure, it’s only 80 proof, but ABV alone hardly defines quality.


Pour: Pendleton 1910 Canadian Rye Whisky
Proof: 80
Age: 12 years
Color: rich amber
Nose: woody honey, Necco wafers, cream soda
Taste: vanilla syrup, gentle oak, mild baking spice
Finish: moderately short – maraschino cherry, brown sugar, rye bread


Overall: Quite satisfying. In many ways, a darker, woodier, creamier Crown Royal Reserve. I wouldn’t call 1910 Rye a bourbon substitute, but the sweet oak character is certainly relative. If WhistlePig’s rye isn’t your jam, Pendleton is a worthy alternative.

Rating: Alryet.

Three Chord Amplify Rye

Amplify Rye is a whiskey blend from Three Chord, an NDP founded by rock legend Neil Giraldo. The label states it’s a combination of Kentucky and Indiana distilled rye whiskey; however, it does not carry a straight designation or age statement. This could get noisy, folks.


Pour: Three Chord Amplify Rye Whiskey
Proof: 95
Age: not stated
Color: light amber
Nose: lemon peel, vanilla Tootsie Roll, watermelon rind
Taste: tangy cake frosting, honey syrup, hints of mint
Finish: moderate length – sweet grain, confectioners sugar, peppery dill


Overall: Believe it or not, it’s quite sippable. While Three Chord Amplify Rye is youthful, it maintains enough structure to appreciate neat. Also, at 95 proof I’d wager it’ll fashion a suitable cocktail. Too bad it’s $45. Too bad it’s not labeled straight.

Rating: B-side.

Willett Family Estate Small Batch Rye

Few bottles draw attention like Willett Family Estate. I suppose it’s because you rarely see them on retail shelves (at least in my area). When you do, they’re marked up significantly. You’d think a 4-year rye would be immune from this behavior. Unfortunately, not enough.


Pour: Willett Family Estate Small Batch Rye
Proof: 111.4
Age: 4 years
Color: honey
Nose: dried pear, graham cracker, pineapple candy
Taste: zesty apricot, sugar wafers, white pepper, tea
Finish: long – sharp vanilla, tangy ginger, hot peppermint


Overall: I’ll give this whiskey credit for being flavorful and unique. Outside of that, Willett Small Batch Rye (4 years) is burdened with youthful, underdeveloped character. Why they continue to bottle this expression at 4 years is beyond me.

Rating: Two more years! Two more years!

Col. E. H. Taylor Straight Rye

There was a time when one could find Col. E. H. Taylor Straight Rye collecting dust on retail shelves in my area. (True story.) Those days are over. Hell, it’s probably been two years since I’ve seen *any* Taylor tube sitting on a liquor store shelf. Such are the days we live in.


Pour: Col. E. H. Taylor Straight Rye Whiskey
Proof: 100
Age: at least 4 years
Color: dark honey
Nose: maraschino cherry, vanilla wafer, blood orange
Taste: fruity caramel, lemon-honey, sweet oak char
Finish: moderate length – creamy cake frosting, ripe citrus, holiday spice


Overall: It might surprise some on first taste, but E. H. Taylor Rye isn’t distilled by Buffalo Trace. It’s distilled by Barton from a mash bill containing no corn. Unsurprisingly, it’s one uniquely tasty bottled-in-bond whiskey. If found at its $80 SRP, buy.

Rating: Damn ryet.

High West Bourye (2016)

High West’s Bourye, a limited edition bourbon & rye whiskey blend, has been around since 2009. Over the years, the sources have varied, including runs with Four Roses and Barton, though MGP remains the sole source since 2016. Speaking of which, I have a 2016 release to review.


Pour: High West Bourye (2016)
Proof: 92
Age: NAS (9-17 years per High West)
Color: rosy copper
Nose: caramel apple, blood orange, brown sugar
Taste: fruity vanilla bean, dark citrus-spice, boozy punch
Finish: moderate length – beautifully rich oak, cherry pie filling, herbal tea


Overall: Likely the best bourbon & rye blend I’ve tasted. An incredible whiskey – mature and complex with a remarkably oily mouthfeel for 92 proof (ah, the wonders of NCF). High West’s 2016 Bourye was apparently overlooked, and it’s your gain in 2021.

Rating: Worth the hunt.

New Riff Single Barrel Rye

I’ve been a fan of New Riff’s bourbon for some time now. What they can do in a handful of years is remarkable. Until today, I’ve yet to experience their straight rye whiskey, and I’m doing so with their single-barrel expression, bottled NCF at full barrel proof. Cue the riff!


Pour: New Riff Single Barrel KY Straight Rye Whiskey 16-2074
Proof: 105.2
Age: 4 years
Color: amber
Nose: apple, honey-butter, lemon zest, floral spice
Taste: cake frosting, lemon-lime soda, hints of ginger
Finish: moderately long – toffee drizzle, peppery oak, faint leather


Overall: A zesty, enjoyable Kentucky rye. While there’s a trace of youth here, it’s not at all distracting. In fact, I’d argue the vibrancy enhances its character. New Riff Single Barrel Rye is flavorful, sips its proof, and as such, gets my recommendation.

Rating: Refreshing.

Old Carter Rye Batch 5

I had the pleasure of meeting Mark and Sherri Carter in the Spring of 2019. Warm-hearted folks with a genuine appreciation for exceptional whiskey and wine. I tasted four of their releases and quickly realized their talents. Here’s 2020’s Old Carter Rye (Indiana) batch 5.


Pour: Old Carter Straight Rye Whiskey batch 5
Proof: 115.5
Age: at least 4 years
Color: rosy copper
Nose: tangelo peel, fruity caramel, mint tea, dill
Taste: tart fruit cocktail, dense herbal spice, citrus punch
Finish: long & zesty – tangy oak, orange-vanilla frosting, white pepper


Overall: There are countless Indiana (MGP) straight rye whiskeys on the market today. Due to youth or imperfect barrel selection, the grand majority pale in comparison to Old Carter Rye batch 5. The downside is its $199 price tag, but I don’t regret a penny.

Rating: Delightful.

Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Barrel Proof Rye

Several days ago, I reviewed Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Barrel Proof, an excellent TN Whiskey (BOURBON). Today, I’m giving Jack Daniel’s “Special Release” Barrel Proof Rye a go. I’ve heard nothing but good things – different levels of good, but good nonetheless. Let’s pour!


Pour: Jack Daniel’s SiB Barrel Proof Rye 20-06941
Proof: 131.9
Age: not stated
Color: deep rosy copper
Nose: hummingbird cake, vanilla pudding, blood orange
Taste: rye pancakes, thick molasses, boozy citrus
Finish: long & intense – dark-fruity caramel, lemon-pepper, holiday spice


Overall: Folks, this is a grand slam. The viscosity, the depth, the complexity, the balance … it carries it effortlessly at a remarkably palatable 131.9 proof. It’s a single-barrel release, so there’s always that; but, if you see this rye don’t sleep on it.

Rating: Outstanding.

Wilderness Trail Settlers Select Rye

I was first introduced to Wilderness Trail in early 2019 with their bottled-in-bond bourbon. While a solid whiskey for the age (one I’ll revisit soon), it wasn’t a bottle I made immediate plans to purchase. But rye … wonders can be done in four years. So, I rolled the dice.


Pour: Wilderness Trail Settlers Select Rye (b. 15121)
Proof: 115
Age: 4 years
Color: rich amber
Nose: lemon squares, vanilla frosting, citrus tea
Taste: “prickly” caramel drizzle, herbal spice, sweet mint
Finish: moderately long – singed orange peel, clove gum, bright pepper


Overall: To classify Wilderness Trail Settlers Select Rye as impressive is merely scratching the surface. This is an incredibly tasty, high-quality whiskey. Not a hint of one note I’d consider typical craft; not an ounce of regret buying this bottle.

Rating: So damn good.

J. P. Wiser’s Rye

I spotted a J. P. Wiser’s Blended Canadian Rye 50ml mini bottle at my local bottle shop the other day and thought, why not? I’ve been continually impressed with Dr. Don, and Lot 40 Cask Strength is amazing. J. P. Wiser’s Rye should at least be solid, right? We shall see.


Pour: J. P. Wiser’s Blended Canadian Rye Whisky
Proof: 80
Age: not stated
Color: straw
Nose: dried apricot, pear, honeydew melon
Taste: lemon icing, cake batter, freshly cut pine
Finish: moderately short – fruit rollup, bitter-sour “zing,” astringent oak


Overall: Not exactly what I was expecting. Manageable, yet not very pleasant all the same. I’m no Canadian whisky expert, but I’m assuming J. P. Wiser’s Rye is an everyday mixing whisky. Even if, with that finish you might want to venture out a bit.

Rating: Seek wiser options.