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Cocktails, 365 Rating: ★★★★☆
Ransom Distillery of Sheridan, Oregon is mostly known for their wonderful Old Tom Gin. And while the Old Tom is outstanding, it’s somewhat of shame, as Ransom has an impressive lineup of other small batch spirits that tend not get the same level of attention.
Their most recent release (January, 2016) is Henry DuYore’s Rye Whiskey – not to be confused with Henry DuYore’s Straight Bourbon, released back in 2013.
From the Ransom site:
Henry DuYore’s Rye Whiskey speaks to our aspiration to release spirits that balance the character of their grains of origin with the influence of the years passed in oak barrels. An abiding fondness for the flavor of rye inspired us to produce our own bottling. With this Rye Whiskey, we sought to temper the admirable innate feistiness of rye with the rich, supple flavor of malted barley.
I’ve had a love affair with ryes the past several years, including a surprising affinity for Crown Royal’s Northern Harvest Rye. I also adore all the excellent work that Tad and the Ransom crew produce back west.
Henry DuYore’s Rye Whiskey has 77.8% rye/22.2% barley mash bill, so its on the softer end of rye whiskey. Thirty-five percent of the rye is distilled in Oregon at Ransom in 265 and 660 gallon Chalvignac-Prulho alambic copper stills. The remaining 65 percent is distilled in Lawrenceburg. The rye is then aged 18 months, blended, and bottled at Ransom.
(Side note: it’s incredibly refreshing when a distillery is so open about the origin of their distillates.)
The desired rye content proved a challenge for the craft distillers.
Rye proved to be a worthy adversary for the old fashioned Ransom mashing system, which we originally designed for the more cooperative malted barley. The texture
of the rye grain made it impossible to push our housemashed base wort above 50 percent rye, so we selected a well-made rye white dog to bring the rye to the forefront of our blend.
Surprisingly sweet for a rye. The spice isn’t immediately noticeable, but rather you get a blast of sweet dough and malted barley. Vegetal hints throughout with a softer pepper on the end.
Dark rye bread, with heavier sugars. The “loaf” like scent on the nose deepens, creating a wonderful, sweeter-than-expected flavor. Henry DuYore’s Rye falls somewhere in the middle when it comes to the rye/barley percentages. (Compare to Sazerac’s 51-percent rye bill or WhistlePig’s jaw-dropping 100 percent.) That mid-range bill comes through. Tasted neat, Henry DuYore’s rye is wholly unique, with sweet sugar notes up front, following hints of pepper on the end.
On the Rocks
The sugar cane notes become much heavier with the addition of ice. The rye even pushes into a strangely rum-like zone on the very first sip. This is quickly dispelled by the spice from the rye on the back end, as well as the return of the vegetal notes that were on the nose, but strangely absent while tasted neat.
Henry DuYore’s Rye Whiskey largely flattens out with the addition of any ice or water, so if you really want to appreciate it I recommend drinking it neat. Neat – it’s brilliant. On the Rocks, it’s merely good.
But how does it hold up against competing flavors when mixed in a cocktail?
Ransom themselves recommend using the rye in a Manhattan. Who are we to question the distiller’s recommendations?
Henry DuYore’s Manhattan
- 5 oz Henry DuYore’s Rye Whiskey
- 1 oz Carpano Antica Formula Sweet Vermouth
- 5 dashes Angostura bitters
Combine all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with cubed ice. Vigorously stir the cocktail and then strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a maraschino cherry.
Even up against the heavier flavors of the Carpano, it provides a wonderful underlying base. Definitely get your hands on this if possible!