Tag Archives: mgp

Henry Clay Straight Rye Review

Old Henry Clay Straight Rye Whiskey – Producer: James E. Pepper Distillery. Distiller: MGP. No age statement. Mashbill: >90% rye (likely 95% rye, 5% malted barley). Price: $20.

Where are the great whisk(e)y bargains these days? Here’s one. I’d been feeling a little self-conscious about the number of $50+ bottles I’d been reviewing in recent weeks–many of them excellent, but price-wise, out of reach for most–and along came the Henry Clay Rye to shake things up.

Henry Clay is a no-age-statement straight rye from James E. Pepper, better known for its 1776 rye and bourbon line. Pepper is reviving an old brand and reopening an old Lexington, KY, distillery that operated from 1879-1958.

In the meantime they’re sourcing very good rye and bourbon from the old reliable MGP. Henry Clay is their entry-level bottling, at 43% ABV and about $20. It’s a steal.

It’s from a high-rye mashbill–at least 90% rye grain, as opposed to the 51% rye of Sazerac or Rittenhouse, say–but has excellent balance.

The nose is bright, fresh, and fruity, with white grape and lychee early on. Almost like a young armagnac! Some leather, some orange rind. Some white pine. Very slight hint of fennel, stopping well short of the brash anise or black licorice notes to be found in some other high-rye-mashbill ryes.

The palate adds a robust but perfectly integrated spice to the nose’s fruitiness. It’s on the lighter-bodied side, but substantial enough for its ABV. Sweet oak and a hint of white chocolate. The price mounts toward the end of the palate, then fades on the finish. Earthy but citrusy. Key lime. A bit on the short side.

This is as good a straight-ahead MGP-sourced rye as you can ask for, at a very accessible price. Eminently sippable, brilliant in cocktails too. Hats off to James E. Pepper!

Cheers, friends! – BO

Redemption Wheated Bourbon Review

Redemption Wheated Bourbon – Producer: Redemption. Distiller: MGP. ABV: 48%. Age: 4 years. Mashbill; 51% corn, 45% winter wheat, 4% malted barley. Price: $46.

I’ve been thinking lately of some of the more surprising whiskies I’ve had in 2017. To be sure, I didn’t expect to fall head over heels in love with the Glengoyne 12, and my rekindled adoration of Glenmorangie came as a bit of a surprise.

But in terms of American whiskies, I think the most pleasant surprise of the year so far has been the Redemption Wheated Bourbon. This 4-year-old gem has a mashbill of 51% corn, 45% winter wheat, and 4% malted barley. It’s the unusually high percentage of wheat that makes this one so interesting.

The Redemption Wheated Bourbon is contract-distilled by MGP to Redemption‘s specifications, as are their other offerings. I’m a fan of their flagship rye, though their recent barrel-strength releases have been iffier.

This limited edition release had me from the beginning. The nose is a bit like Thanksgiving to me. Wisps of sage remind me of the stuffing I usually make. The vanilla layer brings to mind certain pies that I’m supposed to wait to eat (ahem). And the cereal grain reminds me of the handfuls of bread products I shove in my mouth to stave off starvation while my turkey slowly roasts.

Do you get the sense I’m anticipating this holiday a bit?

There’s a soft, creamy vanilla at the forefront of the palate. It melds beautifully with the more substantial nutty flavor further on. There’s dark coffee bean, hazelnut, and a touch of brisket as well. The finish has bits of sage, along with orange zest. It lingers just long enough for me to miss it when it’s gone.

I really enjoyed this one. Here’s to pleasant surprises yet to come. Cheers, friends! – TM

A company representative graciously provided a sample for review. As always, our opinions are 100% our own.

Barrell Rye Batch 1 Review

Barrell Rye Batch 1 – Producer: Barrell Craft Spirits. Distiller: MGP & undisclosed Tennessee distiller. ABV: 58.5%. Age: 4.5 years. Mashbill: see below. Price: $80.

When it comes to bourbon and rye whiskeys we all have our favorites, but sometimes there’s nothing like satisfying the urge to try something new and different. The question is where do you go to find that “something different”?

The previous batches of Barrell Bourbon have been a part of my answer to that question, so I was eager to give the new Barrell Rye Batch 001 a go.

Although Barrell is in the process of building its own distillery in Louisville, it continues to do an amazing job sourcing and bottling cask strength whiskeys (and rum) from different distilleries. Each batch is a unique blend of whiskeys that provides a new experience with every release, and this inaugural rye batch is no exception.

This is a unique blend of rye from MGP and an undisclosed Tennessee distillery. There is a higher component of the MGP rye, which has an interesting 51% rye/49% malted barley mash bill.

Sweet caramel, toffee and butterscotch lead on the pleasant nose and are followed by a soft rye spice. The palate has a similar sweet and spicy profile but there’s an additional complexity of malt and citrus. As the palate transitions to the finish, the familiar MGP mint notes become evident and intermingle beautifully with the malt flavors. The finish is a little subtle but quite sustained with rye spice and malt.

For its first rye batch, Barrell could have released your typical and familiar sourced rye, but instead we get something both different and delicious. Cheers! -JTR

Barrell Craft Spirits graciously provided a sample for review. As always, our opinions are 100% our own.

Buy Barrell Craft Spirits online at Mash + Grape

High West Bourye 2017 Review

Producer: High West. Distiller: MGP. ABV: 46%. Age: 10+ years. Blend: it’s complicated. Price: $80.

A few years back, Baldo and I sat down for lunch in my town of Evanston, IL. The restaurant, a very good and basic Italian, had High West’s Bourye as an option. “Grab it,” Baldo said, “you’ll love it.”

Well, it’s two years later and I can’t say he was much off the mark. The 2017 version of the Bourye is a blend of straight bourbon and ryes ranging from 10 to 14 years old, all from MGP. There’s a high-rye rye, a low-rye rye, and a high-rye bourbon in the mix. (Got all that?) And like previous releases, it’s got a welcoming profile that’s good for the novice and experienced consumer alike.

You definitely get that rye on the nose, but there’s also vanilla, raisin, and a hint of blackberry. The palate is really nice, with an initial nutty overlay that’s quickly conquered by the swelling fruits of blackberry, raspberries, and a touch of currant.

I wasn’t mad for the finish, which was too abbreviated for me, but I quite like this one overall.

My main quibble is the price point. I like the whiskey enough where it could be a staple of the collection on taste alone, but it’s just not an $80 whiskey to me.

Cheers, friends! – TM

Buy High West whiskey online at Mash + Grape

High West graciously provided a sample for review. As always, our opinions are 100% our own.

Redemption Rye Review

Redemption Rye – Producer: Redemption. Distiller: MGP. ABV: 46%. No age statement (2.5+ years). Mashbill: 95% rye, 5% malted barley. Price: $30.

The holidays tend to jam me up a bit. One second, it’s Halloween and I’m growing my holiday beard. The next it’s February 3rd, the beard is gone, and I’m realizing that I’ve got a logjam of photos and reviews with which to bless the whisk(e)y world.

So today, we’re discussing Redemption Rye. Now, I’ve made little secret that I think Redemption’s plunge into the world of barrel proof whiskies left something to be desired. All heat, no heart. But I truly dig their flagship whiskies.

The rye, which comes in a nifty new bottle (as do all their standard releases now), is distilled by Midwest Grain Products (MGP) in Indiana, the spirits giant that also sources rye to Bulleit, Dickel, High West, and any number of small non-distiller producers.

The Redemption Rye has a nice floral nose that isn’t afraid to allow the spice to show a little leg. On the palate, there’s a touch of mint that I have always dug, which dances ever so nicely with that carnival caramel corn and baked orange that I’ve come to associate with Redemption. And I do love the finish. It swirls and leaps at the front, before settling in for a taste that at the very end reminds me that maybe it’s time for another dram.

It’s not a fancy whiskey, and my general love for it goes against my overall mixed feelings of the MGP factory products, but what can I say. The heart wants what it wants.

So here’s to an evening sipping an old friend and being quite happy to do so. – TM

Redemption kindly provided a sample for review. As always, our opinions are 100% our own.

High West Midwinter Night’s Dram Review

Producer: High West. Distillers: MGP and Barton. ABV: 49.3%. Age: see below. Price: $100.

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: High West is sourced whiskey done right. (Yes, they’re distilling too, quietly and in no rush, though when they’re ready to release something of their own, I have a feeling it’ll be worthy of the name they’ve already made as a bottler.) Their selection of stocks, often from the ubiquitous MGP, is excellent, and their instincts for blending and barrel finishes are all but unerring.

Witness the latest Midwinter Night’s Dram. It’s High West’s justly praised Rendezvous Rye–a blend of 6-year-old MGP rye and 16-year-old Barton rye–finished in port and French oak barrels, bottled at a potent 49.3% ABV. They apply the Shakespearean conceit to the release numbers on the Mindwinter’s: this is Act III, Scene I.

The core of it is every bit as good as the recipe suggests: the finish adds a round, raisiny warmth to the bold rye notes of the Rendezvous. But there’s more to it than that. Think late-season grapes in the afternoon, heavy with months’ worth of sunlight–and the green vine, and the dusty leaves, and even a bit of the wood from the arbor. Evolves and unfolds in the glass for as long as you’ll give it. Cabernet-soaked oak and slightly bitter blackberries on the finish.

The best finished rye I’ve ever had. Willett’s XCF was an intriguing entry in this genre, but I’d pick the Midwinter’s over it, hands down.

Bring on the blizzard–any month of the year. Cheers, friends! – BO

High West kindly provided a sample for review. As always, our opinions are 100% our own.

Buy High West Whiskey online from Mash + Grape