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Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Tuesday Tasting: Great Stuff from Kentucky

Tuesday Tasting is a regular feature of Lyke2Drink that explores some of the best beers, wines and spirits on the market. This week we taste four new whiskeys from Kentucky.

They make whiskey in Kentucky. Very good whiskey. There are a precious few distilleries in the Bluegrass State, but they turn out some of the best brown spirits you will find anywhere. This is especially true when the distillers produce a special bottling or dig deep in their rackhouses for aged barrels.

Happily, I occasionally receive samples of these whiskeys for articles I am writing. Recently some samples arrived that were really extra special. In fact, one bottle might be one of the rarest whiskeys in the world.

Let me explain. A bottle of Rittenhouse Very Rare Single Barrel Rye, a 25-year-old rye, arrived for tasting. A 25-year-old rye by itself is a fairly rare whiskey. Then Larry Kass from Heaven Hill Distilleries contacted me to say a mistake had been made. My first thought was they might want the bottle back. Instead Larry told me that the bottle did not contain the contents of a single barrel, as promised on the label, but mistakenly contained a blend of barrel numbers one and three. So what I had instead of a great single barrel rye was an extremely small batch whiskey the distillery had not planned to release. Even better was knowing a second "correct" bottle was on its way.

Rittenhouse Very Rare Single Barrel Rye: Barrel #1, barreled on Oct. 11, 1984. Heaven Hill released 21- and 23-year-old expressions of this whiskey earlier in the decade. Glowing cherry wood color. Wonderful vanilla nose. For a 100 proof whiskey this is extremely smooth.

Rittenhouse Very Rare Blended Barrel Rye: Barreled on Oct. 11, 1984. Barrels #1 & #3. For an "error bottle," this is darn good whiskey. Pretty much the same color as the single barrel #1 whiskey. The vanilla nose is there, too, if slightly muted. This rye is smooth, but has more smoky characteristics.

Woodford Reserve Master’s Collection: This is the fourth release in this series and uses oak that has been seasoned for three to five years. At 100.4 proof you can certainly cut it with a little water, but you will at least take a small sip first. Dark mahogany color with a slightly sweet nose. Nice oak and dark fruit flavors. Finishes with a touch of spice.

Old Forester Birthday Bourbon: Distilled in 1997 and bottled in 2009 this 97 proof whiskey is the latest in the series started by in 2002. Nice glowing amber color and slightly sweet nose. The whiskey has big oak up front. As it opens follow up sips give hints of nuts and toffee, with a lingering cherry note around the edges at the finish.

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