top of page

Writers Rye Chapter 2.1 Review - Aaron Goldfarb's Single Barrel Selection from New York Distilling Company

New York Distilling Company Writers Rye Chapter 2.1 - Amongst the Whiskey Review

New York Distilling Company is a Brooklyn-based distillery that has been open since 2011. When Brooklyn Brewery co-founder Tom Potter, his son Bill (now chief blender & distiller), and Director of Spirits Education & Mixology Allen Katz got together to revive distilling in New York (a noble mission!), it was a no-brainer for them to do things the local way. Thankfully rye is a hardy grain and it grows pretty well in the Northeast, which is a large reason why New England has been a rye hub since as far back as the 1700s. Years ago New York Distilling Company chose to lay down huge swaths of Pedersen Field Race rye out in Seneca Falls to support their rye products. After 6 years and 7 months of aging, this particular barrel was ready for selection by none other than local spirits writer Aaron Goldfarb.

New York Distilling Company Writers Rye - Aaron Goldfarb and Robert Simonson

Since this release, a lot has changed at New York Distilling Company. They've moved from their original Williamsburg location over to Bushwick, where they now have triple the space they used to operate out of. They've also added some new products, like Jaywalk Rye which highlights an heirloom grain called Horton rye. Since they've been crafting, growing, and mashing this grain over the last 8 years, Allen Katz envisions this as being their rye of the future. It seems that they plan to retire the Ragtime Rye recipe which is featured in Writers Rye. You heard that right; the mash bill featured here may be going away for good, so if you're interested in trying this craft concoction, you may want to act fast!

Writers Rye and "Dusty Booze" by Aaron Goldfarb

Now, how about that name? Writers Rye? Where on earth did New York Distilling Company get a name like that? From two inspiring local writers, of course. Aaron Goldfarb and Robert Simonson both write for the New York Times and are also well-established spirits authors. They've been featured in countless other journalistic endeavors in their venerable writing careers. Goldfarb has just recently published another book called Dusty Booze that I'm looking forward to reading.

In 2021 Brooklyn-based friends and fellow spirits journalists, Robert Simonson and Aaron Goldfarb crossed the borough to Williamsburg and picked their first two barrels of New York Distilling Co. rye whiskey, something that would eventually be dubbed "Writer's Rye." A year later, they would return to pick two further rye barrels, one of which you hold in your hands.

With a local bond as strong as theirs, it's a heartwarming partnership to see in this day and age. And so it was, a barrel a piece for the neighborly gentlemen. A barrel of well-aged whiskey typically, and I'll use that loosely here, yields between 180-220 bottles when packaged in the 750mL format. That's a lot of whiskey for either of those spirits writers to consume on their own. I'm glad that they relinquished ownership beyond what was reasonable for personal consumption, as it has offered me a chance to try what each of them loved about these rye whiskeys. In addition to having the opportunity to have their faces adorn the typewriter-styled label, each writer also chose some copy to include on the final product. Aaron chose a snippet from his recent book "Brand Mysticism":

This was a sort of antiadvertising aimed at twentysomethings who didn’t want to be advertised to. We sold them mostly in hip downtown nightclubs in New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. Soon people who didn’t live in those places were asking friends to ship them cartons. In a way, we had presaged how the whiskey business would eventually work, with collectors having friends search the globe to find limited releases for them.

Am I being advertised to now? Dang, that Goldfarb is good. I have to admit, I'm not easily convinced to take a leap of faith on a $70 bottle anymore. Thankfully for New York Distilling Company and for my own whiskey knowledge, sharing samples is commonplace in the whiskey community. Thusly, I was introduced to this resplendent rye via a two-ounce taste from my dear friend Jes Smyth, and for that, I am grateful. I have to admit it was a sample from Simonson's barrel, though, so let's dive in and see if I'm as agreeable with Goldfarb's selection.


Company on Label: New York Distilling Company

Whiskey Type: New York Rye Whiskey

Mash Bill Percentages: 72% Pedersen Field Race rye from Seneca Falls, 16% corn, 12% malted barley

Proof: 112°

Age: 6 years (& 7 months)

Further identification: This is barrel #647 which was distilled & filled 9/9/2016 and bottled 4/21/2023, ultimately yielding 192 bottles; it is available now at an MSRP of $69.99


Nose: Hot chocolate and cooled coffee aromas greet the nose first. Deep molasses, caramel, nougat, and graham cracker tones deceive the senses away from the belief that this is a rye whiskey. Milk duds and confectioners sugar again lull the nostrils into a comfortable configuration, unaware of any evidence of proof. A swirl of the glass aggravates a sleeping spice that now rushes into the nostrils like the shock of entering a new, unfamiliar room. The greeting is vaguely metallic, as if some large steam-operated machinery were near at hand. In this newly invigorated glass, I smell slightly savory, slightly herbaceous tones. A delicate balance between the sweetness of the bakery and the barbecue joint sits in patient deliberation. The beef is on in the slow cooker, and a mix of parsley, rosemary, basil, and sage are all simmering in the drippings. The volume knob still seems to be turned fairly low, so I'll venture into a sip to see if we can give the pull cord a yank on this funky whiskey machine.

Returning one's nose to the glencairn reveals orange peel, clear as day, much to the disbelief of the observer on how it could have possibly been missed before this moment. More of those subtle graham cracker tones offer a strong foundation for flashes of milk chocolate, almond extract, and a hint of geranium. Late in the pour, those well-integrated oak characteristics really start to shine with vanilla tones proliferating. The glass remains mostly reserved, introverted, and reticent all the way through, much like most writers I know, myself included. I wish it had a little more heft personally, but what it does really well is inspire thought; nostalgia, retrospection, and imagination all flourish in this glass. The empty glencairn smells of chocolate-covered caramels and whipped egg whites.

Palate: My first taste offers what I would call a delicate explosion. Lemon peel zips across the tongue like a fast-burning fuse before a chocolate ball pops, filling the mouth with amaretto, nonino amaro, and slightly minty honey. This liquid silk splashes around the mouth in a cacophonous and semisweet rage. Another sip offers hints of Northern terroir with the malt characteristics offering a bit of a Hebridean feeling that vibrates across the tongue, well-met with an upturned brow and intrigue. The mouthfeel is slightly oily with the lingering feeling of a piece of melted chocolate in the mouth being the best descriptor I can conjure to make its impression into a decipherable parallel for one who has not experienced this whiskey before. It's very much its own thing, this whiskey. The New York rye, the effects of aging in the Northeast, and some local terroir effects have clearly imparted some unique characteristics you'll only find out of a New York Distilling Company barrel, and I love that. My last sip is well balanced with dark red cherries meeting in a warm pool between the crust of a freshly baked pie. The finish is quite long, but delicate once again with shy notes of mint tea, lemon zest, and rhubarb.

TL;DR: A shy dram offering just hints of everything it carries, yet somehow never lacking complexity


Rating: 4/5

Writers Rye Chapter 2.1 / Goldfarb

I'm a fan of this rye for sure. Craft rye in general has always had a place in my heart. It has to be made well though. It is clear that New York Distilling Company has gone into this project with good intention; I smell and taste all the hallmarks of a good whiskey where care has been given to cooperage choices, distillation, and maturation. Kudos to all involved in this release! If this whiskey sounds good, you should definitely also check out my review of Chapter 2.2 which I liked just a touch more than this single barrel.



bottom of page