23 June 2016

Catoctin Creek Roundstone Rye

It's organic.
It's kosher.
It's family owned.
It's independent.
It's 100% organic rye mash.
It's fresh American Minnesota white oak.
It's 40% ABV, 80 proof
It's unchill filtered.
It's natural colour.
It's from Purcellville in the USA.
It's Catoctin Creek Roundstone Rye

After pouring a dram I sat down to smell and taste it.

First impression after cleaning my palate with chocolate and a good rinse of water is very interesting. Nothing like I have ever tasted. 

Smooth, spices I like, no "bourbon" sweetness, dry?, rye smell mixed with smell I know from my work but can't put my finger on (Calque drawings cub board), citrus fruit (not sure which) , white pepper, galia Mellon, liqourice? No noticeable smoke. Spice in the finish that's really pleasant for me.  

First thoughts are I like this stuff! It's spicey what I like, warming at the swallow and long after. It lacks the overly sweetness of bourbons. This totally blows my sherry theory out of the water, unless the rye is of such influence that it overpowers wood influences that are alcohol interactions with a fresh American oak barrel. The alcohol in this is smooth, it doesn't overpower the taste and mouth by numbing it. I actually like this and it's a surprise! Nothing like a bourbon, nothing like a barley single malt, but with recognition of notes that I know. 

Questions to answer

After first tasting this dram I formulated some questions:
  • Is the rye influence so big it overpowers the wood influence? 
  • How big is the wood influence? 
  • What was the Char level?
  • What was the barrel size?
  • How long did it mature? 
  • Where did the pepper (nose and pallet) come from? 
  • What if I taste this side by side with a sherry matured whisky? 
I asked the distillery if they could take a look at my questions and could provide an answer. They did:
  • Is the rye influence so big it overpowers the wood influence?  Yes, we are grain-forward, which you get with a younger whiskey. 
  • How big is the wood influence? Hard to give a number, but I'd estimate 60/40 for rye/wood.
  • What was the Char level? 3 as you know.
  • What was the barrel size? 30 gallon, Minnesota white oak.
  • How long did it mature? <3yo +/- depending on weather.  It varies batch to batch.
  • Where did the pepper (nose and pallet) come from? Characteristic of rye grain... same peppery note in pumpernickel --same grain!
  • What if I taste this side by side with a sherry matured whisky?  Then you will have a very good time. Sláinte, prost, and cheers!
The answers sparked three more questions:
  • What does "Grain-forward" mean?
  • What is Minnisota White Oak?
  • What is pumpernickel?

The aging is "about two years". Please see statement by Scott Harris in the video link 

What do the answer to the questions allow me to learn?

I have also tasted a Koval "Millet" Whisky and from this I learned that the grain is, or can be, of significant influence in the total taste of a dram. If Rye, at 60/40 influence has the highest influence as a grains, then it follows that something else is on the other end, but the on the wood influence scale. Which one I'm don't know yet, but the "Millet" and "Corsair Tripple smoke" are the ones I am looking at now.

Roundstone Rye 92 proof

The immediate nose is banana, the rest of the nose is there as it is in the 80 proof, but more spicey. The added 6% of alcohol gives a nice oomph that I absolutely like without numbing the palate. I have a light preference for this expression over the 80 proof because of that. 

Roundstone Rye Cask prood

This dram tells me the others were initially at 58% ABV and were bottled at lower strenght. How does this help me? It helps me because I now have a reference of how a 58% ABV rye spirit reacts to a level 3 char 30 gallon American White Oak barrel.

This dram has all the other two in it and more since you will be able to play with the ABV as you see fit. Find that sweetspot you like. Is it worth the extra money in order for you to water it down if you see fit? I cannot answer that question, but I do know you have the option.

If you want to try this dram for yourself please check my "hunting for" blog for online retailers http://iladdie.blogspot.nl/2016/04/hunting-for-cotactin-creek-roundstone.html?m=1

More to come later! Fun stuff!!

As a Dutchman I have no trouble pronouncing Catoctin, but if you want to find out how it's done please check the video below.

For more about the Distillery 

This video from the Whiskey Guy is also highly interesting

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