Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Very Olde St. Nick Summer Rye

Distillery:Olde St. Nick
Age:"Many Summers Old" (NAS)
Proof:80 (40% ABV)
Price:JPY 5000

Olde St. Nick Distillery is an assumed name of Kentucky Bourbon Distillers. Kentucky Bourbon Distillers, despite the name, is a non-distiller producer, meaning that the company does not actually produce the bourbon that it bottles. It is also a export-only bottling for the Japanese market. For those interested, I have written more extensively about the brand elsewhere.

In addition to various bourbons, Olde St. Nick Distillery also bottles two ryes - a summery rye and a winter rye. As is normally the case with non-distiller producers, the origin of the rye is unknown.

"Winter rye" is a general term to refer to any type of rye that is planted during the winter. Because rye is more resilient, it can be grown in climates and at temperatures where other grains would perish. Some Canadian whiskeys are marketed as being made from winter rye and, therefore, more flavorful. While it is true that better wine normally comes from seemingly inhospitable soil, I am not sure where this is true when it comes to rye. "Summer rye," on the other hand, has no accepted meaning.

Although the distiller is unknown, I tasted it side-by-side with Rittenhouse Rye 80 proof and they tasted dramatically different. This leads me to believe that the producer is Midwestern Grain Products instead of Heaven Hill.

The nose has very strong notes of lychee and other citrus fruits as well as hints of mint and pineapple. The flavor delivers on the nose, starting out peppery and moving to sweet with lychee continuing throughout. The mouth feel is rather thin, but this is something that I find to be a characteristic of ryes. The finish is dry and smooth with very little heat.

I note that there are other bottlings that are higher proof and some that are age stated. As stated above, this was a non-age stated 80 proof bottling.

Verdict: Interesting if you like ryes or Japanese-export bottlings, but no need to seek this one out.

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