I have been a lover of Blue Run since I first tasted their 13 year bourbon what seems like mere months ago, though it's been a few years now. The brand has exploded since then and I couldn't be more proud to see how they've expanded. I've always thought that a good part of the magic in whiskey comes from the people, and the Blue Run team is chock full of good people. All that love doesn't mean I'd ever give a whiskey a free pass on one of my reviews, so I'm here to give it an honest deep dive now (and see if it's personally worth 120 of my hard earned dollars!). I'd like to thank Mike Montgomery for sending along a sample of this release for me to review with no strings attached.
From the Seelbach's release notes: Blue Run Emerald Rye serves as the follow up to Blue Run Golden Rye Whiskey, a Gold Medal winner at the 2021 San Francisco World Spirits Competition. Emerald, a limited collection, was crafted from just 189 barrels and embraces the distinct, spicy characteristics of Rye Whiskey, yet with the approachability and depth of a fine Bourbon. Blue Run Whiskey Director Shaylyn Gammon expertly blended Emerald to highlight a myriad of Blue Run’s favorite flavor characteristics.
“This was an incredibly fun project to work on as I asked the Blue Run team what aspects of Rye Whiskey they truly loved,” said Gammon. “I then went about focusing my blend on those key attributes, zeroing in on fragrant herbs, fresh peppers, and robust spice. Those three prominent notes provide the foundation for a complex, deep flavor experience all the way through to the finish.
Adding to the complexity, several Emerald barrels were aged at different locations more than fifty miles apart in Bardstown and Frankfort. The difference in aging environments helped contribute to the blend’s approachability at this high of proof. In addition, Shaylyn crafted Emerald with whiskies born from three different mash bills with varying degrees of the core grain of rye, creating a rich liquid palette for her to work with when applying her award-winning blending skills.
Now let's get into this and see what kind of whiskey journey this glass can take us on!
Company on Label: Blue Run Spirits (Distilled at Castle & Key)
Whiskey Type: Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey
Mash Bill Percentages: Undisclosed blend of 3 Kentucky straight rye whiskey mash bills
Further identification: This is the Winter of 2022 release from Blue Run Spirits - a blend of 189 barrels contract distilled at Castle & Key by Jim Rutledge and blended by the legendary Shaylyn Gammon
Nose: Right away I find creamy caramel and intense floral characteristics. It's a shiny, bright and exciting start to the glass. Soft Spring earth just shaking the final frosts of Winter reveal fresh undergrowth of daffodil and white lily. It's a sweet and spicy perfumed mixture that is refreshing and distinct. Old Kentucky barrel funk surprises me here - this blend couldn't be all that old, but it sure smells like it could be. Leather meets black pepper and crashes in a bright, fuzzy, baking spice cabinet cacophony. The joy of 189 barrels culminates cohesively in a trove of woodshop projects. I'm in awe of the volume of the oak here. Time for a sip!
Coming back from a sip makes the chocolate tones that are interwoven into every layer of this glass much more apparent. Jasmine meets molasses in a funky tango. The nose begins to simplify into a wood-forward aroma that reminds me of just getting into American whiskey. Light florals return near the bottom of the glass as soft linen joins. I envision flower petals freshly pressed between two pages of a notebook. The air in the glass is light for barrel proof; it hangs there sweet but potent like an early Summer spent near a pine forest, the breeze meandering in any way it sees fit. The empty glass smells of ripe pear and a lemon drop cocktail served next to a campfire.
Palate: My first sip is a pleasant surprise given the differences to the nose; I'm immediately greeted with honeysuckle, wild mint, and dark walnut. There is a light sprinkle of cacao powder I wasn't sure I was actually finding on the nose, but now I am sure I was. Another sip produces a grand front to back wave of creamy vanilla frosting and chai tea. Inklings of cardamom, lemon peel, and butterscotch sizzle and undulate wildly in a unique mouthfeel that seems to linger forever. Right in the center of the tongue sits the cooling sensation of a mentos mint. Overall the sip starts creamy, suddenly turns dendritic sweet, and then the spice kicks into overdrive. An oozing honey sensation soothes the soul at the crescendo of the sip. It distinctly tells a story from start to finish. To me it shares whispers of the beauty of growing up in the early 90s - it has a blissful elegance in its simplicity... Like the hardest time ahead of me is beating the next level of Sonic the Hedgehog on Sega Genesis, and that is oddly calming. As the glass gets lower I find the flavors to have leveled off into a sweet honey and raspberry tea profile that is in a word: crushable. Allspice, clove and black pepper round out the experience and do well to remind me I am drinking a rye here. My last small sip here is measured in minutes as hints of plum, saffron and coriander gently nudge me back into reality as the fog of nostalgia finally passes. What an awesome pour.
Well, I am definitely buying a backup bottle of this one! I love rye this time of year - I was incredibly surprised at how sweet and floral it felt. We haven't even hit full Winter (a season I adore) here in Massachusetts, and this dram already has me longing for Spring. It's bright, inviting and everything I would love to share with whiskey drinking friends new and old. Excellent job with this blend Shaylyn! Through you I feel like I am learning that the Blue Run team really loves their spicy & complex whiskeys.
I think I like it better than Golden Rye by a touch, and it's more cohesive and complete than the cask strength variant of Golden Rye as well. This butterfly is soaring to new heights. Cheers!