Blue Run Holiday Cask Strength Rye Whiskey Review
I'm running a little behind on reviewing these Blue Run releases! So many bottles, so little time! I was specifically asked to do a review on this cask strength rye whiskey from a great @SpiritAnimalSociety member, @suburban_ontherocks. I'm always stoked when @ra1nmannn gets a chance to meet up with me as we usually swap a pretty epic amount of bottles. This last meetup was no different when I got two of the High Rye 12 day holiday single barrel releases. It also reminded me of sharing my first pour of this bottle at the adamant request of @ra1nmannn himself as he was already quite fond of it.
I'm looking forward to tasting through this one tonight, it feels like a good pour given the setting here in New England: an impending snow storm that will probably drop at least 2 feet of snow on us! Great time for a rye. Let's see how this one tastes!
Company on Label: Blue Run Spirits
Whiskey Type: Straight Rye Whiskey
Mash Bill Percentages: Undisclosed
Further identification: Batch: Holiday, Date 11/02/21, Bottle 1423 of 2604; this is the cask strength version of Golden Rye release
Nose: Immediately there is a whammy of maple sugar upfront on the nose, followed by a soft wave of grill smoke and basil. Soft squeezed lemon juice is just the right amount of sweet. Soft cinnamon swirled banana bread lifts loftily through my nostrils. There's little to no heat on this one at all despite the proof. There's something like a funky pound cake that has been sufficiently smothered in sweet cream cheese frosting to not come across as too funky here. A swirl of the glass builds in stronger vanilla notes, a little bit of pepper and a layer of synthetic leather. The nosing experience is quite mellow with nothing overpowering ever reaching the edges of the glass. Time for a sip!
Coming back from the palate there is a great silky, creamy nose-feel that continues to persist and build. I'm also starting to find some of the sharper notes that were not quite formed earlier in the glass. There's a stronger dry black peppercorn, verdant green undergrowth, and a spiced oak profile that I'd imagine puts this rye somewhere between 4 and 6 years. Subtle stone fruit can be found on the back end of deep inhales, producing tart plum, raisin and raspberry jam aromas. Later in the glass a bit of bubblegum presents itself as well. The empty glass smells of chocolate, flaky vanilla wafer sticks, honey, and a wonderful lightly toasted oak.
Palate: Immediately this pour makes its presence known on the palate with lemon peel, pine needle, intense baker's chocolate, and creamy peppermint. Another sip startles up the taste buds into full attention now. There is a nice wave from front to back on the palate with a long linger of tumultuous liquid plum. Cinnamon bun, molasses, and an ever-so-slightly medicinal cherry flavors build well. I can tell for sure this is one of those pours that builds as you sip more and relies on some extra swishing or frequent sips to really shine. Doing so builds more of the sweet fruit flavors I am loving. Woah, this sip just gave me an epiphany moment over 3 quarters of the way through the glass. This is delicious! Another longer, savoring sip makes allspice nestle into the level oak while syrupy plum arm wrestles with cinnamon and blackcurrant. There's definitely some distinct earthy characteristics to this pour that make me feel quite grounded. I don't find myself daydreaming on this one, but focused and calculating as I sip through it. There aren't many extra frills to this whiskey, just a solid profile that undulates between soft & silky notes and blasts of sweet fruit & occasional spice grenades. My last sip is touched with soft thin mint cookies, lemon zest, and honey.
While fairly low in complexity for a rye for most of the glass, it does drink really, really easily which is something to watch out for given the cask strength bottling proof! If you have the patience to sit with this one a while it will reward you. I would recommend this to someone who is new to rye as an exploration pour, but seasoned rye lovers will likely be looking for more traditional notes that appear to be blended out on this release. This is a bourbon lover's rye for sure!