Back in early 2019, before Preservation Distillery exploded onto the market with a wide range of Old St. Nick and Rare Perfection bottles, I got the opportunity to taste one of their early bottlings.
The bottle that sets in front of you is a distillery-only release that celebrated their newly constructed facility in Bardstown, KY.
A friend of mine trudged down there and pony’ed up over $150 for a bottle of 8 year old sourced rye (likely from Alberta Distillery in Canada) that came in at a paltry 82.8 proof.
In sheer amazement of why on earth someone would buy a rye whiskey that was so expensive that contained so little proof and was still relatively young, I had to have a sip to see if I was missing out on anything.
If Whistlepig was bottling cask strength, 13 year old Alberta rye for $80-90, there had to be some reason why people were lining up to pay the price for a rye with less of everything and more price.
Old St. Nick
For reference, the label Old St. Nick has existed for a while (possibly decades) in California and was keen on sourcing Kentucky whiskey of all kinds and selling it in the Japanese market where it thrived.
When the bourbon and whiskey boom hit the US, Preservation saw a very lucrative opportunity to make their inroads back to the US market.
The only issue was that they needed to source a lot of whiskey fast and for cheap so they could help fund their distillery and start up costs.
Our neighbors to the North were an obvious choice as most all of the mature barrels in Kentucky, Indiana and Tennessee were drying up, so rye whisky and strange Canadian whisky that kind of resembled bourbons were snatched up and bottled.
So how did their sourcing turn out? I sat down with this bottle and my trusty Glencairn to find out.
Nose: Classic Canadian rye traits of pine needles, fresh cut hay, and other herbal notes remind me of various Barrell and Whistlepig ryes, but were all very faint. If there is any sweetness at all on the nose, it’s reminiscent of butterscotch pudding.
Palate: As expected, the palate is extremely soft with no proof sting. There is a nice caramel sweetness and oddly viscous mouthfeel considering it’s so watered down, but the highlights end there.
As for rye spice or any kind of spice, there is virtually none. There’s a tiny hint of cherry juice, but the palate is very one dimensional with no tannic notes at all.
Finish: With a proof this low, the finish is almost nil. There are leftover flavors like bananas and cinnamon powder but it’s washed away soon after the sip is complete. Spearmint gum remains about the only dominant taste that lingers around, but that’s it.
There are two ways I could finish this review. One is to issue a generic warning about the dangers of being a tater. The other is flipping out and making a scene about this whiskey. I’ll try to find the middle ground and simply say this, if you are in a situation where you’re staring down a bottle of:
- 1.) Something that is new and relatively unknown
- 2.) Below 90 proof
- 3.) A limited edition release that is for sale in a setting where you had to make an effort to attend and
- 4.) At a price point that you could easily compare other great whiskies priced at or below that level…
…then just. don’t. buy. it.
There have been many distillers and NDPs that continue to bottle leftovers/flawed distillate/garbage that test the market time and time again to see if the taters out there will still fall for anything.
And they’re always proven right. So learn to walk away and not turn back. I guarantee that there will be another new release in the next 30 days that won’t make you regret your purchase immediately.
This bottle was one of them and frankly, many of Preservation Distillery’s products still are like this.
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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