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Cedar Ridge Bottled-in-Bond Straight Rye Whiskey - A Pocket-Sized Review of Release 001

Updated: May 9

Where do you start when you want to get to know a new distillery? Their flagship product? Their bourbon? Their rye? Their vodka? Their gin?

Cedar Ridge Bottled-in-Bond Straight Rye Whiskey from Iowa
Photo courtesy of Jes Smyth

For me, and the generous soul who shared this sip with me, the answer lies in bond. Bottled-in-bond. A simple recipe that has been followed since the Act was first introduced in 1897, producers must meet the following criteria for their product to be considered bonded:

The entirety of the whiskey composition must have been distilled at a single distillery (no blending from out of house!), during a single distillation season (half year interval, spring vs fall), at a proof no higher than 160.

The whiskey must have entered into a new, charred oak container (typically a barrel) at no higher than 125 proof and have remained in that container for a minimum of 4 years.

Bottling proof is to be an industry standard 100 proof and the exterior of the bottle must list the distillery where it was produced.

The bottled in bond designation on the label is therefore a testament to the fact that the distillery took all these standardized measures and followed them to a tee. It would only make sense, therefore, for this to be a great representation of what a distillery is capable of in a single distillation season. Evaluating bottled in bond expressions from different distilleries puts everyone on an even playing field, ultimately letting the nuance of the whiskey making process shine for those who take care to do things right. Will Cedar Ridge rye sing in the glass? Let's find out.


Company on Label: Cedar Ridge

Whiskey Type: Straight Rye Whiskey

Mash Bill Percentages: 85% malted rye, 12% corn, and 3% malted barley

Proof: 100°

Age: 4 years

Further identification: This is release 001 of the small batch bottled in bond rye from Cedar Ridge; a sample from bottle 1292 was generously provided by Jes Smyth; the latest batches can be found for around a $45 MSRP


Nose: Lemon hard candy leaps out of the glass upon first lifting it to my nose. Warm pine bark, silly nilly pink vanilla cotton candy, and a touch of the ever-present underlying Cedar Ridge funk. After a long rest, level, silky vanilla tones swirl in sweet waves. Black pepper, allspice, grenadine, and light maple sugar all develop in a rather reserved fashion, like they're hiding from the nose under a heavy blanket. Time for a sip!

Returning from a sip offers wonderful oily copper-tinged esters bopping around. I find the ones that contribute more creamy and delicate fruity tones, like ethyl lactate and ethyl butyrate. The stills at Cedar Ridge have left a lot of good character here, and the maturation has perfectly melded the original mash bill into something approachable and delectable. In the waning moments of the glass, the subtle barrel funk returns with little else, especially no sharp edges or complaints. The empty glass smells of warm, buttery salted pretzels.

Palate: Ooh! Much like the nose led, I immediately get that distinct Perle di Sole lemon hard candy. It's puffy, fluffy, and light in the mouth. Delicate—just like the cotton candy parallel drawn from the depths of the aroma. Another sip... and by golly, wouldn't you know it... creamy vanilla! This is proving to be a masterclass in consistency between the nose and palate. Visions of Vermont maple syrup, canned peaches, and a savory generality one might find in a boutique deli all invade the mind on the thought-provoking linger. I picture this sipping perfectly from the comfort of a cozy cabin in Vermont while the snow piles up outside. Its lightness sticks in the mind, urging the observer towards subsequent sips with the promise of more of that fleeting flavor. Sipping through late in the glass offers hints of strawberry daiquiri and a kiss of lime. Wild mint and bergamot offer subtle complexity for the patient observer. My last sip is the bittersweet end, as beets, earthy raspberry leaf tea, and a kiss of strawberry mint finish out a wonderful sipping experience. The finish is long but tenuous, with a whisper of chocolate.

TL;DR: A subtle, well-blended rye; a masterclass in synchronization between nose and palate


Rating: 4/5

I really enjoyed this pour. Juxtaposed next to some other craft distilleries and big-name blenders, this continues to shine ahead of a lot of the competition. I hope they have kept up the consistency with this one as the years of experience Murphy Quint and team have under belt continue to tally. I'm looking forward to trying more from Cedar Ridge in the years to come. Long live craft whiskey!



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