Starlight Honey Barrel Finished Rye Whiskey Review - Barrel FB232
It's Starlight Sunday once again in the Amongst household and I found myself reaching for something sweet as the last throes of Summer are upon us. Immediately the honey rye label caught my eye and I knew that is what I was going to be reviewing today. I'm looking forward to seeing if I made the right choice with this one! Let's get into it.
Company on Label: Starlight Distillery
Whiskey Type: Finished Rye Whiskey
Mash Bill Percentages: A possible blend of both their 85% rye & 15% malted barley and/or their 90% rye & 10% malted barley mash bills
Age: 4 (and a half) years
Further identification: Barrel FB232 is a gift shop release selected by master distiller T. Huber that was finished in an ex-bourbon barrel that has been aged with honey for an additional 3-8 months
Nose: Floral, citrus sweetness emanates from the glass. Chocolate tones present lively. The glass is bright and excitable upfront. Taking a deeper dive with the nose presents green flower stems, sweet smoke and just a hint of the honey sweetness you might expect to find. It's cheerfully perfumed & juicy sweet throughout in a way that delivers delectable piquancy. This glass is not a roulette wheel of flavors constantly evolving by any means, but a set rhythm of a head-bobbing beat of bright rye. I find bright molasses soaked oak on deep inhales that feels to me like a great level of maturity for a rye. Time for a sip!
Returning I find a slew of new herbal notes: clove, lemongrass, thyme and cardamom. Deep inhales reveal cacao nibs and airy oats as the glass thins out towards the bottom. Overall the glass continues to feel green and funky. Grassy notes hang out in the corners. The empty glass smells of funky espresso-soaked ladyfingers, caramelized nuts, and Betadine.
Palate: How interesting is that! The palate exhibits none of the same characteristics as the nose was putting off. My first sip is so oily, heavy and viscous with a molasses note running about the consistency of lemon pudding, Where the pre-sip nose was floral, the palate has turned things quite herbal. Another sip and swish reveals funky chocolate malts, heavy cinnamon bread, and butter. The linger is where the honey really starts to show up; it tingles softly before fading fast. I find subsequent sips to be like replays more than an evolution as the glass seems to maintain a level of sweet, delicious simplicity. My last sip is finally where the honey seems to crescendo. I find green tea subtly enhanced by the sweetness of a big spoonful of honey. The linger is the longest on a big sip with the bready, chocolate flavors sitting atop the tongue.
(Decent. I can go either way on it.)
All in all this was not exactly the pour that I was looking for today, but from an honest review perspective it still delivered something interesting & quite crushable for me. I wouldn't say this has the hallmarks of a complex whiskey, but the few punches it is able to throw were all quite enjoyable. I can definitely see this being a crowd-pleasing easy sipper that could certainly get you out over your ski tips as you reach for another glass as the most logical follow up to finishing your last. It is tasty enough that I'm going in for another sip. I'd recommend you give this one a try for yourself to see what you think. I'm sure there are other honey finished ryes or bourbons from Starlight out there that taste different than this one.
Bottle update - January 15, 2023:
As you go beyond halfway through the fill level to this, oxidation does wonders to this bottle. The subtle notes I disliked about this review above are all gone, and my post-rating notes were prophesized to perfection. My father and I am absolutely crushing through this bottle on a beautiful snowy Starlight Sunday. I'd consider the post-oxidation review of this bottle to be more akin to a 4/5 rating, though your mileage may vary. I just wanted to update this, as this release has certainly found a new place in my heart. Cheers!