Thursday, March 31, 2011

Stauning Rye First Impression versus a couple of other ryes

Last week Stauning Distillery in Denmark released their first bottling, a rye and as a rye fan I had to stock up :-)

It's distilled in 2009 and 2010 and the rye has been matured on 50 liter and 200 liter casks

The mash bill is malted rye, malted barley and unmalted rye. For some odd reason Stauning won't tell me about the exact mash bill, but they are thinking about it :-)

I think they should. Anyone following the american micro distilling scene know that origin, recipe and cask history is what the whisky fans are interested in these days. With a huge extend in bottlings available, mashbills and innovative experiments I feel it's important for us consumers to know what we are drinking. It's nice to be able to pinpoint your taste for further purchases. Maybe you DON*T like high rye mashbills but really like low rye mashbills, but it's better to know that than just "I like this whiskey and I don't like that whiskey". Good enough if you always got the same bottle on your shelf, but who has that?. I don't for sure :-)
Rant over

1. Stauning Rye / first impression
Distilled 2009/2010 Bottled 2011 52.5%
850 bottles

Nose : Vodka, or something similar to other unaged distillates like grappa, raki or vodka, with a faint spicy woodiness

Palate : Gin-like, the rye spicyness often makes people associate it to gins, so this is not uncommon, especially with young ryes, where the rye and not the wood is dominating. 

Finish : Very good, looong and powerful. The finish is surprisingly fantastic, considering the nose (unaged spirits) and palate (young rye). The true rye flavour emerges... creamy oily rye flavours with a slight woodyness. The finish is really enjoyable and more-ish

Water : A bit of water doesnt harm this rye, it can in fact take quite a bit of it. It actually removes some of the impressions saying this is a very young whiskey, and highlights the qualities of the finish, with vanilla tones coming out more clear

Rating 73  - The finish is well worth an 80 score thou

EDITED summer 2011 aftera few retastings

Yes, a hard one to rate as the very long and delicious finish really makes a huge difference to a whiskey where I initially thought "This clearly needs a couple of more years"

I am really looking forward to Stauning Rye when older, this first impression isn't putting me off at all! 

Read more about Stauning here, their first malt whisky isn't ready yet

PS : Danish whisky distilleries usually comes out at horrible and very silly prices, especially first editions. I still think this should have been slightly cheaper than 495 Dkr for 50cl but it's actually nice to see something bottled at a somehow fair price. I know it's not cheap to start up a distillery, but if you insist on bottling very young whisky at the prices of single casks 70's Ardbegs I think you more interested in money than bottling quality whisky. This is the first product from Stauning. 
It's wellknown that scottish whisky needs 3 years in cask by law, but there's no law regarding whisky in Denmark. Rye is an american style of whiskey and there's no minimum age requirements for ryes in America, but a "straight rye" must have been in a cask for at least 2 years. I am still thinking about why the term "straight" is used :-)

2. Old Potrero 62.2% 
2yo single malt whiskey made from 100% malted rye
Bottling date 20/4 - 2001, barreled 9/12 -1988 bottle 422/4005

Old Potrero is from San Francisco and is made by the Anchor Distilling Co. Anchor is a lot more known for their Brewing Co. making excellent craft beers 

Old Potrero is more clearcut in it's rye expression. It doesn't show the same extent of youthness in the whiskey, but this is probably twice the age and has been matured in a warmer climate, which does speed up the maturation. Last time I checked the weather is considerable better in the Bay area than at the west coast of Denmark. The finish is no way near the finish of the Stauning. In this whiskey its the finish that reveals this is a young whiskey!

Rating 81

3. WhistlePig Rye 10yo 50%

WhistlePig (Canadian word for Groundhogs) is a canadian rye bottled by an american company. It's supposed to be distilled at Alberta Distillery in Calgary known for Alberta Premium. Hiram Walker also prodcues a 100% rye (malted) so thats a 2nd guess

100% ryes are made as flavouring agents for blends in Canada

This is bottled as straight rye, so being canadian this whiskey must obey all the straight rye regulation which are american. This means more than just mashbill, also alcohol strength of distillate and wood policy has to follow the same rules as applys to bourbons

(read about that here : )

This is a very good example of how rye whiskey taste. It's delicious but somehow onedimensional. If you like this dimension..great for you. I do, as it's the rye dimension, and I am a rye fan. 

We are back to longer finish with a bit of fudge butterscotch in it, the years in new wood is showing its face. It's remarkable less effected than bourbons at similar ages. Canadian enviroment when maturing or is the rye opposed to corn ? I don't know

Rating 82

If Stauning are considering going 100% rye or 100% malted rye I would say they should also consider whiskey/whisky with a lower rye mash bill. My favourite "younger" rye products have been Bourbons with a high rye content like IW Harper and "blends" from High West like Rendezvous Rye and BouRye. Don't forget that a Rye has to be just 51% rye to be a Rye according to the American rules. As well as a bourbon has to be at least 51% corn. It's the last 49% that's the art :-) and it seems like I prefer a rye a content of 30-50%

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