At least better than Jim Beam Rye...
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I have only had two ryes, Jim Beam Rye and Wild Turkey Rye. I like them both, but consider the Wild Turkey to be the better of the two. I am anxious to try more. Also, I read somewhere that the Beam Rye contains the minimum amount of rye (51%) in its mashbill. I haven't seen any Van Winkle whiskeys in Japan. I may have to order some.
You are correct, the JB Rye satisfies the minimum 51% rye content, but is certainly not a 100% rye. I believe I also read somewhere that in fact it was exactly 51% rye.
This is also verified in the flavour.....it does not differ too greatly from some bourbons I've tried, so the corn content is certainly up there.
Sorry, I realize that was a bit cryptic. 'Straight' is a technical term in American Whiskey law much like 'single malt' is in Scotland. For the longest time I had no idea what that meant. I thought that only one malt was used in the beer that the whisky was distilled from. I had no idea that it meant that all the malt whisky came from a single distillery. Skip ahead to paragraph (iii) for the part about 'straight whiskies' then come back to (1)(i).
(1)(i) "Bourbon whisky", "rye whisky", "wheat whisky", "malt whisky", or "rye
malt whisky" is whisky produced at not exceeding 160° proof from a
fermented mash of not less than 51 percent corn, rye, wheat, malted barley,
or malted rye grain, respectively, and stored at not more than 125° proof in
charred new oak containers; and also includes mixtures of such whiskies of
the same type.
(ii) "Corn whisky" is whisky produced at not exceeding 160° proof from a
fermented mash of not less than 80 percent corn grain, and if stored in oak
containers stored at not more than 125° proof in used or uncharred new oak
containers and not subjected in any manner to treatment with charred wood;
and also includes mixtures of such whisky.
(iii) Whiskies conforming to the standards prescribed in paragraphs (b)(1)(i)
and (ii) of this section, which have been stored in the type of oak containers
prescribed, for a period of 2 years or more shall be further designated as
"straight"; for example, "straight bourbon whisky", "straight corn whisky", and
whisky conforming to the standards prescribed in paragraph (b)(1)(i) of this
section, except that it was produced from a fermented mash of less than 51
percent of any one type of grain, and stored for a period of 2 years or more in
charred new oak containers shall be designated merely as "straight whisky".
No other whiskies may be designated "straight". "Straight whisky" includes
mixtures of straight whiskies of the same type produced in the same State.
So, if Jim Beam has a mashbill containing exactly 51% rye then that is the minimum allowed to be labeled a straight rye whiskey. My bottle doesn't have an age statement on it. My guess is it is at least 4 yo. It is not my favorite whiskey, but I quiet like it.
I just opened a bottle of Old Overholt Straight Rye Whiskey 40%. Aged just four years it is a young whiskey. Some floral, citrus note in the nose, some sweetness, not honey, in the taste with some vanilla from the oak. Not woody. It has a bit of the bite I get from rye (not that I have had that many ryes), but really is fairly smooth for all that. Maybe because of the fairly low abv.
I saw this at the discount the yesterday. I had seen it before but had thought it was a bourbon. Also, it was cheap, 1,600 yen or so. Then I noticed that it was a straight rye. I did a web search last night and was entranced by the history of this whiskey. Not that there is necessarily that much history in the bottle that I bought today... Still, if you see this on the shelf and you want to try a rye whiskey then I think you should give this one a go.
I haven't tried other ones. When I was buying Wild Turkey, Jim Beam and Old Overholt rye versions were sitting next to it, but at a price of 2/3 of Wild Turkey. So I snobbishly chose the later
I am eager to try Old Potrero. It's a 100% malted rye at cask strength. But being on a very young side I think it commands too high a price - $60+ for a few year old whiskey. Maybe when they get some older expressions Has anyone tried it?
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