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Fiddler Toasted Barrel Straight Rye Whiskey Review - Batch 23-001

ASW Distillery Fiddler Toasted Barrel Straight Rye Whiskey

ASW Distillery is a fantastic craft distillery out of Atlanta, Georgia. They're cooking up some really good whiskey (more than I have time to write about, to be quite frank) off their double copper pot stills. While their own whiskey is really damn good, they occasionally fiddle with some distillate from other sources as well. They self describe the fiddler concept on their website saying:

When we were getting our start, we knew we’d be making a whole host of whiskies from grain to glass. While those aged, we wanted one brand to allow us to showcase interesting whiskies from across the country (including our own) that we “fiddle with” to create new flavor profiles.

ASW Toasted Rye Specs

Through years of trial and error, much sampling, and rejoicing where appropriate, we’ve settled on a number of year-round expressions, all of which feature different flavor profiles and fiddling: from our own house-distilled, copper-pot bourbon, Fiddler Soloist Straight Bourbon, to our high wheat, foraged bourbon that we finish on hand-harvested Georgia oak staves, Fiddler Heartwood Bourbon, to our best-selling Fiddler Unison Bourbon, a marriage of the first two – along with other Fiddler expressions both past and future.

From their modest beginnings, the "Southern Pot-Still Pioneers" Justin Manglitz and Whit Hagemann continue to advance the world of craft spirits with innovative distilling techniques (mash-in!), crazy mash bills (100% malted rye!), and wild aging concepts (spiral cut barrels!). At the heart of everything is an incredible amount of passion that is apparent in the way that everyone on the team talks about ASW.

ASW Distillery Whiskey Bottles

I recently had the great pleasure of sitting down and chatting with Whit on an Instagram live I hosted through the Spirit Animal Society. As one might expect, the distiller himself is often the best person to ask interesting questions to. With Whit you won't get the marketing fluff, you'll get the deeply educated perspective of someone who is a whiskey enthusiast just like you and me. He's studied long under the great skill of Justin Manglitz and clearly shares his passion for making great whiskey. Speaking of whiskey, let's get on with this toasted rye review, shall we?


Company on Label: ASW Distillery

Whiskey Type: Straight Rye Whiskey Finished in Toasted Barrels

Mash Bill Percentages: 95% rye, 5% malted barley

Proof: 101.4°

Age: 6 years

Further identification: This is batch 23-001 of the toasted rye series, the first time ASW has released this type of label; this batch used barrels with a char level 1 and a heavy toast which held this blend for 6 months of finishing time - it is available now at an MSRP of $65


Nose: Lemon scone and rich earthiness greet my nose first. I'm reminded of a deep pocket of woods where it's just you and the forest smells; deep, dark oak bark is most dominant, but notes of pine boughs, swaying cedars, and moss covered rocks fill the mind with comfort. Diving deeper there are aromas of licorice, focaccia bread, raisin, and the smoke of a distant campfire. Patiently revisiting I find more anise tones, black cumin, black pepper, and faint salted caramel brittle. Overall I find this glass to be bright like seashells polished by many waves.

Moving on from a sip, I smell a good bit of breadiness that has woven itself into the fabric of this whiskey. Candy raisins and sun-warmed pinecones are delightfully clear in the well-rested glass. My empty glencairn smells of lemon lollipop, dutch oven baking, and the cold, fresh, beautifully clear air of Winter in the North.

Palate: Lemon frosting hits the tongue first in a soft splash before raisin, rhubarb, and bright red raspberry take over the delectable mouthfeel. Venturing in for another taste exudes an experience that is silky, creamy, and delightful on the tongue as juicy cakepop notes dance along to the sweet song of melting marshmallows. Nuances of graham cracker and molasses dance between the river of sweet fruit dripping down from a rotisserie stick perched above a campfire. I find the thick layer of caramelized sugar of a crème brûlée dish has been started, but the chef has been pulled away before they were finished. A longer sip and swish reveals medicinal cherry, angostura bitters, and grenadine that undulate in slow period but high amplitude waves long after sending the sip below. The experience is once again so comfortable, like the succor of a warm sip of mulled wine on the coldest of days. At last taste I find orange marmalade, maraschino cherry juice oft licked off the mixing spoon, and a blooming wave of light spice that shimmers as it eclipses the senses. The finish is long with hints cardamom, caraway seed, rising dough, and vanilla bean ice cream melting over a freshly baked pie crust.

TL;DR: Great balance between forestry, juicy red fruit tones, creaminess, and spice - a complex beauty


Rating: 4/5

Thankfully I do have one of these on my shelf. Admittedly I knew before this was even bottled that I wanted one of these for my whiskey study. I had the fortune of being able to taste this when it was first being vatted in the blending tanks while I was onsite selecting the first single barrels to hit the Massachusetts market. As such, enjoy some excellent bonus photography from the distillery below!



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