Tag Archives: spirit reviews

Spirits Review: Dry Fly Washington Bourbon

Dry Fly is a distillery that seems to be bound and determined to push the envelope while still retaining the highest standards possible. Every product they have released has been distilled to a fantastic level of quality, while breaking out of the molds that most seem bound and determined to stay in. They have a vodka that is not flavorless, a gin that includes hops and apple in the botanicals, and a whiskey made from winter wheat.

This last weekend marked the Seattle release of Dry Fly’s newest product, a 101 proof Bourbon distilled from corn, unmalted wheat, and barley, and as luck would have it, I happened to be driving though Seattle right as it went on sale. Unfortunately for those who were not in Seattle or Spokane for the releases, all 480 bottles were sold within hours, and I am told that the next release is not until late next year. But, back to the bourbon.

This is not your average bourbon, perhaps having more in common with your great-great-grandpappy’s bourbon. Aged for only three years, this golden liquid is bold and in your face. The aromas are packed with spices and a faint oakiness. On the tongue, you get big sweet flavors of caramel and vanilla, the alcohol hiding in the fringes, despite the hefty proof. The flavors fade out with a long spicy finish laced with cinnamon and oak. All in all, a fantastic bourbon that will only continue to improve with age. Cheers to Don, Kent, Patrick, and the whole Dry Fly family for another fantastic product!

***Update***
Today the first bottle of Dry Fly Bourbon ever produced, sold at an eBay charity auction benefiting the Spokane chapter of Ronald McDonald House Charities for $2650!

Rating: ★★★★½

Spirits Review: Bulleit 95 Rye Whiskey

A couple of years ago, when I was first starting to get into cocktails, one of my observations was that a awful lot of classic drinks called for rye whiskey as a base. Well, here in WA state, the rye selection was abysmal at best. In my particular area the only option was Old Overholt. Not a bad whiskey by any means, but all those bourbon lovers had their selection, why couldn’t the rye lovers have theirs. Well times have changed and we have an ever expanding selection to choose from. I myself have more ryes than any other variety of whiskey, and that is an exciting thing.

On March 1st, Bulleit released their latest product, a 90 proof rye whiskey with a grain bill of 95% rye and 5% malted barley, aged between 4 and 7 years. The product is said to be distilled at Lawrenceburg Distillers, the same distillery that produces Templeton Rye. So how does it stack up? Lets take a look.

Bulleit Rye pours a light amber color indicative of a much younger whiskey. It has aromas of dry spice, some cherry, tobacco, and a kind of yeasty ester that I can’t quite place. The taste is superb. Very crisp taste with a punch of peppery spiciness. The muted smokiness that is present in Bulleit’s bourbon is absent here, which is a little disappointing as it is something that I was expecting. A little caramelized toffee with some vanilla and oak flavors. The finish is long, with no sweetness whatsoever. I felt as if the mouthfeel was a little thin somehow, but all in all, an excellent rye whiskey at $32 here in WA. Cheers!

Rating: ★★★★☆

Spirit Reviews: Templeton Rye Whiskey

When Prohibition outlawed the manufacture and sale of alcoholic beverages in 1920, many enterprising residents of a small town in Iowa chose to become outlaws – producing a high caliber and much sought-after whiskey known as Templeton Rye.

After many years, Templeton Rye is once again being produced by using the original Kerkhoff family recipe. While legally rye whiskey’s grain bill needs to contain only 51% rye, Templeton uses a mash bill of around 90% rye and 10% malted barley. The whiskey is fermented with a proprietary yeast strain, is double distilled, and is aged in new American white oak 53 gallon barrels for at least 4 years.

Templeton Rye pours a deep yellow-orange in color which belies its age. Its aromas start with the spice of the rye, along with some dried grass and brown sugar flavors. The taste is full of caramel, toffee, and allspice with a peppery finish that lingers on the tongue. There is really no alcohol burn to speak of, which makes this a great whiskey to sip neat.

If you are looking for a good whiskey to mix up those classic cocktails, a rye is what you want, and this particular one fits the bill perfectly. Currently Templeton Rye has very limited distribution, but hopefully that will be expanded soon. If you find a bottle, grab it. You will be glad you did. Cheers!

Rating: ★★★★½

Spirit Reviews: Ron Zacapa Centenario

Ron Zacapa Centenario is considered by many to be the best rum in the world. With a Beverage Tasting Institute high score of 98, it is one of the highest ranking rums in the world. After winning the International Rum Festival’s top honor five years in a row, it was retired from competition and now serves as a benchmark by which other rums are judged.

Zacapa rum is produced in the mountainous region of Guatemala. Distilled from the first pressings of sugarcane, the rum is then aged using the Solera process at an altitude of a mile and a half above sea level. The Solera process has been used for centuries by wine makers to achieve a consistent product from year to year. How this system works is that barrels from one year are stacked upon barrels from the preceding year. At bottling time, a percentage of liquid is drawn off from the oldest barrels on the bottom. Then they are refilled from barrels one year newer, up to the top of the stack, where unaged rum is added. This allows the rum to be blended several times and aged in different types of barrels. Lastly, the oldest barrel in a 23 barrel stack will have rum far older than 23 years as the bottom barrels are never fully emptied. As a result of using this process, Ron Zacapa rum is actually a blend of rums from 6-23 years of age, blended for consistency. So lets get on to the rum!

Ron Zacapa pours a rich, coppery brown, with legs that cling to the glass. It has such a soft nose for such a well aged rum. There are no funky aromas, but instead gentle molasses, sweet honey and vanilla, with some slight citrus notes to round it out. The flavors are so deep and complex that I could actually just smell this rum forever, but it’s in the glass, so I best proceed.

This rum is super complex with tons of flavors going at it. The first sip is rich caramel, toasted nuts and very mild oak flavors. As it goes down your throat you get a taste of butterscotch, some spicy notes, and just a hint of coffee. Zacapa rum has a very light texture, which is interesting for a rum of its vintage. While I am a fan of it, some feel that this rum is far too sweet.

All in all, I would have to agree that this is perhaps the best rum in the world. While I have by no means tried all the rums out there, of all the widely available rums this is by far the best. Although it really is best served neat, I would also recommend this for some simple, understated cocktails where the rum takes the center focus. At under $50 a bottle, you should do yourself a favor and make this a rum to have. Your tastebuds will surely thank you. Cheers!

Rating: ★★★★★