Palm Ridge Reserve Whiskey – Distiller: Florida Farm Distillers. ABV: 45%. Age: under 1 year. Mashbill: Florida corn, malted barley, regular rye, and toasted flake rye (proportions undisclosed). Price: $50.
Palm Ridge Rye – Distiller: Florida Farm Distillers. ABV: 50%. Age: under 1 year. Mashbill: undisclosed (70% rye). Price: $50.
Florida Farm Distillers is a tiny operation run out of a converted horse stable by husband-wife team Dick and Marti Waters. They make a white whiskey, a rye, and a very young “bourbon-style” Palm Ridge Reserve. The latter got my attention when Jim Murray gave it a 94.5 in his 2015 Whiskey Bible, calling it a “beautifully crafted, truly adorable whiskey where fruit appears to constantly have its hand on the tiller.”
Both the Palm Ridge Reserve and the rye are very good–especially given their youth (under a year) and their maturation in 5-gallon barrels. Tiny barrels like these are notoriously finicky: you can go from a tasty young whiskey to an undrinkable Home Depot infusion in a matter of days.
Dick and Marti have gotten these just right. The Palm Ridge Reserve has a remarkably aromatic nose, with cedar and sandalwood, plus hints of the rye spice that brighten the fresh, juicy palate. The toasted orange wood chips used in maturation are playing a role too, and playing it well.
The rye, which has a 70% rye grain mashbill, comes on with a nose that’s astonishingly like a young Highland single malt, also bright and fresh, with a grain-forward note that recalls Coppersea Distilling’s fine young ryes. The palate balances green fruits with dry and savory flavors.
Hats off to two fine craft whiskies that capture a local character and do good work with small barrels. Tiny production means they’re very hard to find outside of Florida, but try them if you can. Cheers, friends! -BO
The distillers kindly provided samples for review. As always, our opinions are 100% our own.