Southern Star Double Rye Review - North Carolina's Best Distillery You Probably Haven't Heard Of Yet
If you read my first Southern Star review on a cask strength wheated bourbon coming out of Statesville, North Carolina then you HAVE heard of Southern Distilling Company. When I found out this distillery also had a rye, I knew I had to reach out and see if I could try it. With the wheated bourbon shining as bright as it did, I had high hopes that their team and their stills were up for the extra challenge of figuring out how to do rye whiskey right. Southern Distilling Company was kind enough to provide me with this bottle at no cost to me so that I could review it with no strings attached. My evaluation methods always put honesty first & I don't ever let gifts impact my final ratings. Let's dive in on the Southern Star Double Rye notes.
Company on Label: Southern Distilling Company
Whiskey Type: Straight Rye Whiskey
Mash Bill Percentages: Assumed to be 51% Rye, 39% Corn, and 10% Malted Barley
Age: NAS (therefore a minimum 4 years)
Further identification: This is release number 009 that was distilled and produced by Southern Distilling Company; this bottle carries an MSRP of $34
Nose: Mmm, my favorite style of rye jumps right out of the glass; this pour is quite citrus forward. Juicy lemon, grapefruit and strawberry banana smoothie notes are soft yet powerful up front. Deeper inhales produce deeper complexities of cardamom, black pepper and just a hint of clove. As the sweeter citrus tones get consumed by my searching inhales, delicate layers of Werther's caramel and the woody-metallic combination of aromas the exterior of a whiskey barrel can produce rise to the nose. As I continue to nose through the glass I find things have taken on a simple 'clean' feel. Let's have a sip before moving on.
As I arrive back with my nose in the glass after a few sips I find the barrel influence to have been amplified. To me it smells like a woodshop hard at work: planing, chopping, shaving, drilling and other woodworking activities all producing shavings and dust. It smells like quality wood, not general construction lumber. Working through those layers I find touches of lavender and fresh beeswax. This glass is just right to be able to stick your nose all the way in and not get burned. The overall profile is generally quite sweet and constantly evolving. I can't find anything I don't like in this glass. The (sadly) empty glass now smells of delicate rose, light bread and salted caramel brittle.
Palate: Just like the nose - this immediately elicits a 'mmmh' from me. Lemon peel, cardamom and grapefruit translate perfectly from the aroma to the palate - it's as if you took a carbon copy of the ester calculus and layered it onto a dissolvable strip on my tongue. Another sip introduces bright, cool and sweet tones. Honeysuckle and juicy white grape flavors paint the picture of a perfect Summer sip. As I sip down lower in the glass I find a silky, creamy mouthfeel that pops with a flash of citrus zest before settling down slowly like a balloon with a pinhole leak. The finish is long and fruity with a wide array of tropical and citrus flavors. Sipping through this leaves the whole mouth coated in a beautifully delicious, oily film. My last sip is a doozy with lemon peel and light pepper dancing on the tongue before raspberry, plum and prosecco notes produce an effervescent, long finish. Delicious.
TL;DR: Well crafted whiskey with plenty of citrus tones
I'm once again incredibly pleased with how well this North Carolina whiskey drinks; it seems evident to me that they've got all of the important pieces of making good whiskey figured out. They must have a great water source, climate, a cooperage willing to do things right (long outdoor dry aging periods to remove tannins), and a wonderful distillation process. This double rye is beyond thoroughly satisfying and I look forward to trying their Hunting Creek rye next if this is any indication of how good their whiskey is.