Rye Whiskey 2014

Best Rye Whiskey 2014


The Great Rye Whiskey Tasting of 2014


The Tasting:
The Fifty Best held a “blind” tasting of 20 American rye whiskies with 20 pre-qualified judges. Strict tasting rules were applied. The order of service was established beforehand by lottery. Each of the ryes were poured into fresh glasses from new sealed bottles, and served slightly above room temperature. Only ice water, neutral unflavored unsalted crackers and bar snacks were available to cleanse the palate. The judges tasted through two flights of 7 ryes and one flight of 6 ryes.

The judges wrote down their impressions of each product on score sheets. The scoring was done on a 5-point system, with 5 as the best. Double-Gold and Gold medals were awarded according to a set range of final point scores received from the judges. The scores were exceptionally high overall, and there were no Silver or Bronze medals awarded in this tasting.

The tasting notes that follow are summaries of the judges’ opinions, with all replicated commentary eliminated. The states of origin are identified for each brand.


Here are the final results:

Knob Creek Rye


Knob Creek

Nose: Cherry, cola, sarsaparilla, brown sugar, toffee, vanilla, nougat, creamy, egg nog, banana, fruity, pollen, licorice, anise.
Palate: Dried cherries, citrus, ginger, herbs, walnuts, rye flour, clove, black pepper, oregano, pine, dry oak, light smoke, silky, balanced.
Finish: Vanilla, caramel, buttery, sweet, pepper, spicy, oaky, smoky, mellow, delicate.

Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal

Batch No. 12
Heritage Distilling Co. (Washington)

Nose: Toffee, buttery, vanilla, vanilla Coke, root beer, dried fruits, toast, grain, clove, spice, pine.
Palate: Apricot, cherry, plum, dried fruit, cola, honey, brown sugar, toffee, cookies, cocoa, roasted nuts, almond, vegetal, herbal, rye, dough, grain, spicy, crisp, clean, well balanced.
Finish: Honey, vanilla, cherry, zesty, mild spice.

Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal

Batch No. 12 Rye

Ranger Creek .44 Rye

Ranger Creek .44
Ranger Creek Brewing & Distilling (Texas)

Nose: Nougat, toffee, honeysuckle, honey, vanilla, sugar cane, cherry, plums, maple, walnut, leather, tobacco, oak.
Palate: Cherry, apricot, dried fruit, caramel, vanilla, toffee, marzipan, ginger, white pepper, sandalwood, mint, clove, nutty, wheat, rye flour, dough.
Finish: Clove, peppery, tropical fruit, roasted tobacco, leather, oak wood.

Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal


Nose: Cocoa, bitter chocolate, apple, apricot, clove, mint, cayenne, herbs, grain, malt, sweet nuttiness, sherried scotch, leather.
Palate: Apricot, strawberries, pineapple, green apple, honey, creamy, toffee, macadamia nuts, nutty, grain, sweet corn, ginger, green pepper, green olive, potato, light tobacco, hickory, oak.
Finish: Honey, spice, zesty, grassy, light, nice, smooth, well balanced.

Double-Gold Medal
Double-Gold medal

Sazerac Rye

Monterey Batch 20 Rye

Monterey Batch 20
Fog's End Distillery (California)

Nose: Butterscotch, brown sugar, caramel, vanilla, honey, sweet cream, buttered popcorn, marshmallow, maple syrup, brittle, peanuts, nutty, cherry, banana.
Palate: Sugar cane, cotton candy, butterscotch, treacle, buttery, creamy, honey, vanilla, caramel apple, honeysuckle, banana, slightly nutty, almonds, clove, grassy, oak, well balanced.
Finish: Vanilla, creamy, buttery, nutmeg, mint, peppery, fresh tobacco, oak, smooth.

Double-Gold Medal
Double-Gold medal

Wigle Deep Cut
Cask Strength Organic
Wigle Whiskey (Pennsylvania)

Nose: Caramel, sugar cane, brown sugar, honey, molasses, banana, starfruit, floral, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, spice, nutty.
Palate: Brown sugar, sugar cane, honey, nougat, treacle, dried fruit, orange zest, cinnamon, pepper, green pepper, black pepper, spice, peppermint, cut grass, wood.
Finish: Cola, lemon, tobacco, spicy, pepper, creamy, smooth, gentle fade.

Double-Gold Medal
Double-Gold medal

Wigle Deep Cut Cask Strength Organic Rye

Feisty Monongahela Style Rye

Monongahela Style
Feisty Spirits Distillery (Colorado)

Nose: Toffee, caramel, honey, vanilla, sugar cane, grain, cinnamon, lemony, citrus, apple, green apple, herbal, floral, walnuts.
Palate: Tropical fruit, grape, cherry, plum, apricot, herbs, black pepper, coffee, nougat, nutty, walnuts, tobacco, sherry, charred oak, wood barrel, sweet wood, woody.
Finish: Creamy, vanilla, sweet caramel apple, pepper, smooth, clean, superb.

Double-Gold Medal
Double-Gold medal


92 Proof
Catoctin Creek Distilling (Virginia)

Nose: Cocoa, vanilla, cloves, green tea leaves, cut grass, floral, subtle.
Palate: Honey, vanilla, pistachio, banana, date, fig, dried dark fruit, walnuts, herbal tea, herbs, peppermint, spice, toast, leather, zesty, lovely wood.
Finish: Spice, peppery, rye, grain, medium.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

Roundstone Rye 92 Proof

Legs Diamond Aged Rye

Legs Diamond
Aged Rye
Nahmias et Fils Distillery (New York)

Nose: Molasses, honey, caramel, caramel corn, butter cookie, cream, citrus, walnut, clove, nutmeg, white pepper, black pepper, slight mint, leather, charred oak, light peat.
Palate: Green apple, dried fruit, toffee, nougat, rye flour, nutty, leather, oaky, gentle, delicious.
Finish: Toast, pepper, light, smooth, delicate, well balanced, delicious.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

Dark Horse Reunion
Barrel Strength
Dark Horse Distillery (Kansas)

Nose: Toffee, honey, caramel, cola, sarsaparilla, cherry, banana, apple, lemon, nutmeg, herbal, roasted filberts, tree bark.
Palate: Sugar cane, honey, caramel, creamy, buttery, nougat, empire red apple, ginger, green pepper, spicy, walnuts, grain, oak.
Finish: Spice, pepper, zesty, light grassy, grain, hint of maple syrup, wood, very smooth.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

Dark Horse Reunion Barrel Strength Rye

John Jacob Rye

John Jacob
Fremont Mischief Distillery (Washington)

Nose: Light citrus, sugar cane, dried fruits, nuts, dried grain, flour, mint, white pepper.
Palate: Honey, buttery, vanilla, caramel, toffee, light maple syrup, cherry, prune, dried fruit, pistachio, clove, spice.
Finish: Creamy, spicy, tobacco, slightly smoky, smooth, delicate.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

Elk Rider
Heritage Distilling Co. (Washington)

Nose: Honey, brown sugar, molasses, banana, coconut, poppy seeds, nuts, grain.
Palate: Cherry, apricot, dried fruit, molasses, mint, spice, clove, black pepper, black tea, bark, mineral, zesty, assertive.
Finish: Zesty, mint, light pepper, nice, smooth, gentle.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

Elk Rider Rye

Redemption Barrel Proof Rye

Barrel Proof
Bardstown Barrel Selections (Kentucky)

Nose: Vanilla, toffee, honey, molasses, cola, cherry, caramel, fresh baked cookies, cotton candy, egg nog, wheat, green apple, herbal, fresh.
Palate: Molasses, brittle, butterscotch, nougat, maple syrup, cherry, pine resin, black olive, cinnamon, clove, spicy, toasted oak.
Finish: Zesty spice, peppery, black pepper, dried mango, buttery, cinnamon, cloves, grain, oak, rich.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

Ceran St. Vrain's Taos Lightning
KGB Spirits (New Mexico)

Nose: Honey nectar, honey, brown sugar, caramel, cherry, dark fruit, prune, light strawberry, orange, ginger, cereal, grain, oak, mahogany, tobacco, leather.
Palate: Honey, molasses, vanilla, toffee, plums, orange, citrus, apple, ginger, peppery, spice, tobacco, resin, woody, oaky.
Finish: Buttery, spice, pepper, umami, savory, smooth.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

Ceran St. Vrain's Taos Lightning Rye

Five Fathers Pure Malt Rye

Five Fathers
Pure Rye Malt Whiskey
The Old Pogue Distillery (Kentucky)

Nose: Dried fruit, banana, orange liqueur, molasses, nutmeg, clove. nutty, rye bread, flour, maple, oak, woody.
Palate: Plums, dark fruit, dried fruit, honey, vanilla, raw sugar, chocolate, cocoa, black licorice, nutmeg, roasted nuts, nutty, clove, allspice, peppery, hot pepper, spicy.
Finish: Spicy, pepper, toffee, buttery, grain, citrus, tobacco, zesty.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

Wigle Small Cask Series
Bottle Proof Organic
Wigle Whiskey (Pennsyvania)

Nose: Sweet apple, caramel, toffee, molasses, Vienna fingers, pound cake, nutty, white pepper, dried tobacco, leather, woody.
Palate: Sugar cane, molasses, chocolate, cinnamon, Grand Marnier, roasted nuts, slightly nutty, malty, grain, oak, cigar tobacco.
Finish: Cherry, spicy, tobacco, smooth, mild.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

Wigle Small Cask Series Bottle Proof Organic Rye

Stein Distillery Straight Rye

Stein Distillery
Straight Rye

Nose: Citrus, ripe orange, apricot, nutty, grain, honey, sugar cane, fermented corn, oak, mint.
Palate: Creamy, buttery, brown sugar, nougat, orange, ginger, mint, spicy, herb, roasted nuts, toast, woody, oak, leather.
Finish: Honey, grain, slight oak, light, smooth.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

Ole George
Grand Traverse Distillery (Michigan)

Nose: Cherry, berries, apricot, honey, sugar cane, citrus, grape, ginger, basil, herbs, almond, fresh cut grass, cedar.
Palate: Toffee, caramel, nougat, cream, vanilla, honey, dried fruit, cocoa, mint, spice, pepper, caraway, almond, walnut, oak, leather.
Finish: Creamy, buttery, honey, citrus, toasted.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

Ole George Rye

Copper Fox Rye

Copper Fox
Copper Fox Distillery (Virginia)

Nose: Vanilla, toffee, brown sugar, butterscotch, buttery, sweet red bell pepper, mint, patchouli, nutty, leather, oak, smoke.
Palate: Plums, banana, vanilla, toasted rye, pepper, clove, ginger, coffee, nuts, hint of peat, burnt wood, charred oak, woody.
Finish: Dried fruit, toast, nutty, tobacco, tanned leather, subtle, elegant.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

New England Distilling (Maine)

Nose: Brown sugar, cinnamon, floral, basil, mint, clove, licorice, leather, smoky.
Palate: Dried fruit, vanilla, butterscotch, roasted nuts, walnut oil, walnut, clove, green apple, citrus, dried tea leaves, musk, oak, wood, smoke, very smooth.
Finish: Dried cherries, tea, creamy, flour, toast, nutty, pepper, mild spice, nice, smooth, exciting.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

Gunpowder Rye




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