To say that Kentucky Owl Rye Whiskey Batch 2’s price increase came as a shock would be an understatement. The retail price for Batch 2 increased to about $200 which was $80 more than Batch 1. This puzzled enthusiasts who wondered why there was such a hefty increase in price.
If anything, Batch 2 was a step backwards because even though the age stayed the same, the proof went significantly down. Batch 3 of Kentucky Owl Rye tried to remedy this somewhat by bringing the proof back up (this time to 114 proof) but it somehow lost a year off the age statement. The price also remained stuck at the $200 price point. Did something change with Kentucky Owl’s access to rye whiskey?
Kentucky Owl has never expressly said which distilleries they were sourcing their rye whiskey from, but many people have theorized the main component was Barton. Barton would’ve had two different rye whiskies available at the time for Kentucky Owl to source; a 53/37/10 low rye mashbill and a 65/35 mashbill that contains no corn (this is speculated to be the mashbill for EH Taylor Straight Rye).
However, Dixon Dedman has said that he’s sourced rye whiskey from many different distilleries to blend together for each batch. Sometimes he removes the liquid from one distiller’s barrel and dumps it into another for a few months to change up the taste profile.
All of this is to say that one batch of Kentucky Owl Rye Whiskey is not the same as the last. The rye whiskey inside could be made up of completely different distillery’s distillates or percentages of each. So although I’ve generally been a fan of these products, how will this batch compare? Time to take a drink and find out! I sampled this neat and in a Glencairn.
Nose: The nose is the epitome of “fresh.” There are notes of peppermint candies, fresh mint, wildflowers, cherries and orange zest. For being made up entirely of Kentucky rye whiskies, it somehow has escaped coming off as a bourbon (which is a plus in my book). The botanical and floral scents easily overpower the more traditional vanilla and caramel flavors I would find from a barely-legal rye whiskey recipe. One strange scent that sticks out is a lot like Nestle Quick powder, which makes for a fun throwback to my childhood.
Palate: The “Fresh” theme on the nose carries over to the tongue with flavors of herbs and mint along with gingersnap cookies. There is a good deal of spicy notes that are balanced out by the sweetness that comes from toffee and honey. Finally, the full array of baking spices come out in full force with cinnamon, clove, star anise and fennel seed. It’s one of the more complex and rich rye whiskies that I’ve had.
Finish: Heaps of mint, menthol and botanical notes remain long after the sip is complete. It’s a wonderfully satisfying rye whiskey through and through. Compared to other whiskey that has aged in new charred oak for a decade or more, I’m surprised by how “bright” this one finishes. And if you’re wondering if that is a good or a bad thing, I can assure you it’s fantastic all around.
Just missing out on achieving an “Incredible” rating, this rye whiskey is still very much worth the pricetag. In fact, the only reason why this did not achieve that rating is because I felt like for all the more every flavor felt perfectly balanced, it didn’t fully show off its high age statement. In other batches of Kentucky Owl, I have noticed some tannins like oak or tobacco make their way through.
But Batch 3 seemed to forgo those in favor of bringing forth brighter flavors. Once again, that’s not saying it’s a flaw, but I have experienced rye whiskies that can juggle both having bright notes and tannic notes together and they are world-changing.
Kentucky Owl Rye Whiskey was discontinued in 2020 after Batch 4 was released, but that doesn’t mean that it was killed off because the whiskey was no good. If anything, every batch of their rye whiskey was absolutely superb and demands your attention. For the price, this is surely a celebratory bottle. But I seem to be finding a lot of things to celebrate these days just so I can have another taste.
1 | Disgusting | Drain pour (Example: Jeffers Creek)
2 | Poor | Forced myself to drink it
3 | Bad | Flawed (AD Laws 4 Grain BiB, Clyde Mays anything)
4 | Sub-par | Many things I’d rather have (Tincup 10 year)
5 | Good | Good, solid, ordinary (Larceny, Sazerac Rye)
6 | Very Good | Better than average (Buffalo Trace, OGD BiB)
7 | Great | Well above average (Old Ezra Barrel Proof, Old Weller Antique)
8 | Excellent | Exceptional (Michter’s Barrel Proof Rye, Four Roses Barrel Strength)
9 | Incredible | Extraordinary (GTS, 13 Year MGP or Canadian Rye)
10 | Insurpassable | Nothing Else Comes Close (William Larue Weller)
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