Thank you /u/boyd86 for the sample.
Apologies for a quick story before I go into this one. I need to explain my bias. It’s for my… idiom.
So a few years ago my wife, some friends, and, most importantly for this story, I stopped by Dillon’s Distillery. All four of us knew only that they sold a variety of white dog, gins, bitters, and even a limoncello. We were in the area for wines, and this was a stop I was excited about.
We walk in, my wife goes to use the little girls room, and we start talking with the staff. She starts pointing out they have White Rye Whisky, and that we could buy mini casks to age it.
I decided to speak up. For better or for worse.
“Oh, that’s nice, however… have you ever considered releasing a higher proof white whisky?”
“Well, if you age it, it loses alcohol and isn’t technically whisky anymore, and…”
“Well that doesn’t matter.”
And then she walked away. And would not serve us anymore.
Now I should have stated that the amount of flavour of a lower than 40% alcohol isn’t my thing. I take the blame there, my argument should have started stronger. That said, I wasn’t prepared to be cut off and ignored.
Suffice to say, when my wife came back, my friends and I were very confused and awkward. Eventually a different person came by and served us gin. We liked the rose gin, bought a smaller bottle of it, and left.
The whole situation left a bad taste in my mouth (not from the gin). I tell myself that it was just a bad employee who reacted poorly. I tell myself not to blame the company.
Sadly though, I’m human. And I can’t help but feel otherwise. We haven’t gone back. And when I heard that Dillon’s Rye Whisky was being released, I was honestly torn. I wanted to support a small distillery who, according to what I’ve heard, has been a leader in creating a better place in Ontario for Craft Distillers.
But… did I want to support someone who did the above? I didn’t think I could separate my bad situation to give it a proper review. After a lot of thinking about it, I decided I needed to. It was a bad employee.
So this is the first cask of Dillon’s Rye Whisky. It’s over 3 years old, aged in new American oak, and made down in Niagara, known as one of Canada’s many wine areas. It’s an interesting release, and released at cask strength.
So let’s see how it tastes, shall we?
Price: $30 for a 200ml bottle
Bottle: 523 of 960
Cask Type: New American Oak
Aged: 42 months
Mash Bill: 10% malted rye, 90% unmalted rye
Barreled: Feb 13, 2013
Bottled: Sept 13, 2016
Colour: 5YR 5/10
Nose: Wood, caramel, tangerine, alcohol, sawdust/wet paper, muskrat musk, ginger
Interesting nose on this one. The cask strength has lead to some really nice orange, spice, and caramel notes that I expect from older ryes.
That said, it also has this rougher side. From my recent trip to New York, I can see why some water down their younger malts. However I appreciate the full strength, even with the rough musk on it.
Taste: Vanilla, orange, ginger, burn, alcohol
Nice taste at first. Good amount of vanilla, orange, and ginger. Developed really nicely.
Then there’s quite a bit of burn and alcohol. More than I’d like. This needs more time to develop.
Finish: Ginger powder, wood, varnish
At first I’m quite happy with the amount of powdery ginger. Then some wood, which is okay. And then it’s really, really rough. Eventually just the wood and varnish stays.
Conclusion: Like a lot of young ryes, this needs more time. It’s quite raw at the moment. However I’m happy that we received it at full strength. This is how it is right now. Given 6 more years, I can see this being a very orange / ginger forward rye that could compete quite well.
I state my bias at the start to ensure that I’m not hiding anything. I liked the nose quite a bit. The taste and finish has a lot of rough elements.
I hope they keep making really good rose gin. And limoncello. This is a first draft. I’ll be happy to support them on the second run. Or maybe the fourth.
World Whisky review #187, Canada review #65, Whisky Network review #890