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A Revered Legacy Reborn: How Liberty Pole is Reviving Old Monongahela Rye Whiskey (and What it Tastes Like!)


Old Monongahela Full Proof Pennsylvania Straight Rye Whiskey

PRESS RELEASE


Washington, PA 5/7/2024—Distilled in the heart of the Monongahela (ma-NONG-ga-HEE-la) Valley of western Pennsylvania, a region steeped in the rich heritage of rye whiskey craftsmanship, comes a tribute to tradition and innovation. Today, we proudly announce the arrival of “Old Monongahela Full Proof Rye Whiskey,” a testament to the time-honored and once world-famous Monongahela Rye style reintroduced to modern whiskey drinkers.


Based on a storied recipe beloved for centuries, our “Old Monongahela Full Proof Rye Whiskey” pays homage to its historical roots while embracing the essence of contemporary distillation. At the core of its character lies a high rye mash bill made with 74% total rye, composed of 61% Pennsylvania grown rye and 13% malted rye. This distinctive blend is further enriched with 13% wheat and 13% malted barley, resulting in a classic style of pot distilled Pennsylvania rye whiskey.


What sets our “Old Monongahela Full Proof Rye Whiskey” apart is not only its recipe but also its craftsmanship. After 8 years of focusing exclusively on fine tuning our pot distilled whiskey, we honor the tradition of Monongahela Rye by sweet mashing and double pot distilling each batch. The process of pot distillation is essential and ensures the preservation of those herbal, spice, and fruity grain flavors in a rich, viscous and flavor forward whiskey.


Old Monongahela Full Proof Pennsylvania Straight Rye Whiskey

Following this traditional distillation process, the spirit is placed into 53-gallon barrels made from local Appalachian oak by the West Virginia Great Barrel Company at a low barrel entry of 108 proof. This low entry proof guards against astringency that can occur in high barrel proof whiskeys while extracting those dark leather and caramel notes that we want to be front and center in our whiskeys.


The inaugural release of “Old Monongahela Full Proof Rye Whiskey” marks a milestone in our journey, showcasing a blend of six barrels ranging from 3.5 to 4.5 years old.

Bottled at a proof of 108, mirroring its barrel entry proof, this expression captures the true essence of Monongahela Rye, promising a sensory experience that transcends time and tradition.


“We are thrilled to introduce ‘Old Monongahela Full Proof Rye Whiskey’ to enthusiasts and connoisseurs alike,” says Jim Hough, Co-Founder of Liberty Pole Spirits. “With every bottle, we invite you to embark on a journey through history, savoring the legacy of Monongahela Rye while embracing the spirit of innovation that defines our craft.”


This release will be available at the distillery and for shipping to PA addresses on May 17th for $64 for a 750mL bottle. “Old Monongahela Full Proof Rye Whiskey” invites discerning palates to indulge in a taste of tradition reborn. Join us in raising a glass to the timeless allure of Monongahela Rye, reborn for a new era of appreciation.


For more information, please visit libertypolespirits.com or contact Jim Hough at jim@mingocreekcraftdistillers.com


About Liberty Pole Spirits Liberty Pole Spirits is an 8-year-old family-owned distillery dedicated to crafting extraordinary whiskeys that celebrate tradition, innovation, and the rich heritage of the Monongahela Valley. With a commitment to quality and a passion for craftsmanship, we strive to create exceptional pot distilled whiskeys not often found in the American whiskey category. Liberty Pole whiskeys will also be available for shipping to 40+ states through our partnership with Big Thirst in just a few short weeks.


 

This was a project I have been looking forward to since I first caught word of it from the Hough family. I've always loved the Old Monongahela rye whiskey style after getting to try some revered examples from a bygone era. Prohibition all but destroyed the category, but it's craft distilleries like Liberty Pole, rekindling some of the old low-and-slow processes, that give me hope for the category to be reborn in a meaningful way. Wondering if this whiskey tastes any good? Care for the perspective of someone who has tasted the old stuff? Well, you're in luck, as I'm glad to have a bottle here before me for exploration. This was provided to me by Jim Hough for the purposes of giving this a review with no strings attached. Per my editorial policy, this has no bearing on my final rating.



Let's dive in, shall we?


 

Company on Label: Liberty Pole Spirits (Mingo Creek Distillers)

Whiskey Type: Pennsylvania Straight Rye Whiskey

Mash Bill Percentages: 74% rye (61% PA rye and 13% malted rye), 13% wheat, and 13% malted barley

Proof: 108°

Age: 3.5 years (a blend of 3.5-4.5 year barrels)

Further identification: This is batch # D24, the first ever release of this bottling, available now at an MSRP of $64


 

Nose: Light earthy clay, wax, paper, and well-aged whiskey aromas do well to honor the vintage scents I have stored deep in my mind. The mash bill has been perfectly mellowed by the wood interactions you would expect from the Appalachian oak they used. I find it doesn't have a ton of volume, but what it does produce is enjoyable in the nose. On subsequent inhalations, I find a lemon satin crème bar. With time and patience, the nose further improves in depth and approachability. Late in the glass chocolate raspberry icebox cake swings in with a distinct sweetness. Graham cracker and just a sprinkle of sugar give this exceptional depth for the patient observer. The empty glass smells of a verdant forest floor, leather-bound books, and breakfast doilies littered with confectionery treats.


Palate: My first sip offers juicy red fruit like raspberry, plum, and a hint of nougat on the back end. It's distinctly sweet, with subtle undulations of balsam fir, black tea, allspice, and good wood influence. Another sip offers terroir-lead sweet funk, and I'm quite happy for it. The palate begins to sing an octave higher, with those floral and citrus tones just starting to vibrate in excitement. It tingles on the tongue as I close my eyes in appreciation. Lemon biscotti, pressed flower petals, and that vintage clay note tie everything together really nicely. Strawberry shortcake tones sit wonderfully in the linger. My last sip is zesty and pervasive—the perfect embodiment of Pennsylvania straight rye whiskey. I find lemon curd mousse, egg whites, and a touch of toffee. The finish is where this finds its shine; it's long, subtle, and sweet with clay, caramel, and custard notes just shimmering in old school beauty.


TL;DR: A damn good representation of the Old Monongahela style; citrusy rye for days


 

Rating: 4.5/5

Liberty Pole is going to make a splash with this one. While I didn't find the brackish river of Alaska, the salmon being heated over an open flame with lemon, dill, and garlic that Sam Thompson 11 year Old Monongahela pure rye offered me, I really do appreciate the attention to detail with what went into making this whiskey. The end result is something I'll likely be shouting from the rooftops about for some time. What do you think? Time to chase this down?

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