The @SpiritAnimalSociety is back at it again! This pick is awesome. We had a great time getting together with some of our top friends and fans to taste through a handful of Ry3 offerings that Karthik sent us from Phenomenal Spirits. Brett @saxybourbon and Abby, @_LostNemo_ were joined by @luckytimmy13, @trywhiskeywithfitzy716, @bourbonchick_6, @ra1nmannn, and @bourbonman81. We collaborated with a great Massachusetts retailer in Liquor Junction who has picked an awesome Ry3 before as well.
Not many people get to experience barrel picks; they are often extremely limited and exclusive... Well, that's not how we do things with the Spirit Animal Society. We've always tried to involve as many people as we possibly can on any barrel picking experience. This is still extremely challenging for us as there is usually only so much liquid that can be sent around for tasting before the barrels would all just run dry from thirsty barrel societies! We did the best we could with a few small flasks of the liquid gold that Phenomenal Spirits sent along. Thank you Karthik! You can read a little bit about his history in rum here.
If you'd like to hear about the tasting experiences / nuances read on below!
Ry3 Whiskey Rum Cask Finish Private Reserve - Spirit Animal Society Barrel Pick
Company on Label: Phenomenal Spirits
Whiskey Type: Finished Rye Whiskey
Mash Bill Percentages: Undisclosed proportions of 3 mash bills: 95% Rye / 5% Malted Barley (MGP), 100% Rye (Alberta), and presumably a 99% Corn / 1% Malted Barley (presumably MGP)
Proof: Varies per cask, all around 120 proof
Age: Undisclosed proportions of 3.5 year MGP rye, 4 year Alberta rye, and 15 year Light Whiskey
Further identification: These all come from batch PR#005 and are finished for a bit longer than usual due to it being Winter in the US; they spent 13.5 weeks in Ron Izalco rum casks (which are also ex-bourbon #4 char) that come from Independent Stave Company which supplies most of the big Kentucky distilleries
Rum Cask #49 - 121 Proof
Nose: Salt water taffy leads the way with soft metallic notes following. There's a rich black pepper note that's quite apparent here. There's quite a bit of lemon zest trying to escape the glass but a level dustiness seems to be holding it down for now. Swirling doesn't change much in the way that the troves of oak continue to bombard my nostrils. There's definitely some apparent heat to this and the back end of a big inhale exhibits a touch of bright banana. Vanilla swings back in and presents very mellow and enjoyable compared to #41. Oooh the citrus zest is the one I remember enjoying from this release; it almost tastes similar to the note I get out of Willett 4 year rye. The metallic note is back again with a slight oily nose-feel like a copper-pot distilled spirit often will have. Vanilla continues to be the most prominent note. The empty glass smells of very little, which is quite surprising.
Palate: This leads punchy with tart, figgy jam. There's a prevalent cinnamon spice in every corner and a soft herbal undertone. Muddled, dark fruit presents quite mixed up and jumbled. Vanilla frosting and a faint coffee bean slide under the overall feel of citrus zest and light grassiness. My last sip is a lovely sweetness of creamy caramel, pear, fresh earth, and hints of chocolate.
Rum Cask #20 - 119 Proof
Nose: This glass immediately feels softer than #49 with sugar cookie jumping out first for me. White linen and vanilla are there and the aromas remind me of a clean, warm towel after a cold jump in a Maine lake. Wow! The fruit just showed up for the main event now. Candied cherry, raisin and lemon gumdrops show off nicely. A bit of cinnamon spiced pineapple can be found on the back end of deep inhales. The softness yet subtle complexity of this one makes me like it the most on the nose alone. There's a deep, herbal complexity to this that I can't quite place, but I know I enjoy it. I still firmly believe this one has the best nose. The empty glass smells of cranberry, raisin, funky fig and sweet cinnamon candy.
Palate: Much more sweetness to this one compared to #49. Plum, peach preserves, and grape juice. This also carries a nice mouth coating and it lingers quite long. The lemon peel feeling of this is bright, breezy and floral. Yum yum yum. There's vanilla, silky Early Gray tea, a back end hint of pepper and all of it is neatly tied together in a sweet, creamy white wine bow. My last sip is punchy with the sweetest lemon squeeze of any of the samples. It lingers softly with tiny flashes of bubblegum, mint, tarragon, hints of sweet cilantro and the ever present sugary vanilla sweetness that ties this all in together.
Rum Cask #41 - 120.2 Proof
Nose: Lemon tea starts this glass off; I'm incredibly surprised at how varied these 3 are, all starting off on a different foot. This one is a nice medley of sweet and spice, but is the most non-descript for me. Quite hot on the nose after resting. This smells like it could be hazmat proof at times. I wondered if this was because my glasses were getting quite warm, but decreasing the temperature externally with ice around the glencairn really only mutes the spirit. Later in the glass I get an angostura bitters note. The empty glass smells of honey, tart wildflowers, and sawdust.
Palate: Funky at first then it blooms into a really deep oak spice. This one has very little in the way of sweetness that I can find, but the linger eventually fades into a lemon hard candy which tastes lovely. Another sip is very herbal tea forward. While this is certainly the easiest to sip on of the 3, I find it doesn't do much outside of the normal profile. I taste much of the same of what I am finding in the other two glasses, but just in plainer clothes. My last sip is the best of the glass with orange peel and a slight mint note.
Control Group: Liquor Junction Private Reserve Batch 003 - 122.8 Proof
Nose: Honey sweetness leads the way. Slight chocolate tones flash up at times. Pepper and gingersnaps are similarly punchy to the samples we were provided. The empty glass smells of prunes, pineapple, and soft linen.
Palate: Waves of lemongrass and honey pulse softly over the palate. This one is dangerously soft in every sense. The rum finish feels a bit more apparent on this one with that creamy characteristic really shining. Very cherry forward and a bit of barbecue grill smoke on the back end. My last sip is quite punchy, which makes me believe this would go absolutely fantastic in an old fashioned, which I think I'll also try tonight.
Ranking: Unanimous #20 > #49 > #41
I was incredibly impressed that everyone was in complete agreement on which sample was the best. I reserved my opinion all the way until the end and was very pleased to see it agreed with the entire tasting group.
Final bottling point of the cask #20 selection ended up at 119.4 proof! We believe this is a must-have for any whiskey enthusiast - even those who don't usually think they would like a rye... This is not your typical rye! If you'd like to potentially be a part of the next Spirit Animal Society pick - get involved with us on Instagram or join our Patreon! We have a couple other incredible offerings available in our store as well. Any of our other links can be found on the SAS linktree. Cheers folks! Hope to see you all and share some sips of this RY3 soon!