One of the quieter releases coming out this year from a major distiller, MGP’s Rossville Union Rye had invited liquor store owners in the states where their products were sold to come to Lawrenceburg, IN to select their own private bottling.
Rural Inn was the first store in Indiana and 3rd store overall to participate in this program. I was one of the people who got to go on this pick and the trip to MGP was magical to me. Others that have posted online about their experience described it as “an old factory” but that’s shortchanging the allure and history of the place.
The pick we were invited to do involved a bottling of Rossville Union Rye that would slot between their 94 proof Master Crafted Rye and their 112.6 Barrel Proof Rye. This new one would have a silver label and be bottled at 100 proof. During the tasting, we were given two glasses that contained the 94 proof and 112.6 proof rye in it so that we experience the profile of these products were first. Then we were given three glasses that contained the three different rye mashbills that MGP produces (a 95/5 rye/malt, a 51/49 rye/malt and a 51/45/4 rye/corn/malt).
Finally, we were given three glasses that had a special coded number and were told to pick our favorite from them. When we picked our number, we were informed that the three glasses were blended from those three different mashbills to create a particular, unique profile. One was sweet, one was savory and one was spicy. We had picked the sweet profile in the end, which amazed me because it tasted like the spicy 95/5 recipe the most.
It took 6 months for the Rural Inn to get their pick in. Priced at $53 for a 100 proof, NAS bottle, would this Rossville Union product deliver? Let’s dive in. This was sampled neat and in a glencairn.
Nose: Buttery gingersnap cookies lead the way with other baking spices like allspice and cinnamon and even Mexican oregano. There are some soft floral notes as well as a bit of toasted orange and lime peel. The trademark caramelized brown sugar that I get with most MGP ryes was also present as well a little bit of oak and vanilla.
Palate: The mouthfeel is a lot oilier than I thought it would be for 100 proof, which is a plus. A gingerbread taste carries over from the nose and is built up with other sweet treats like vanilla frosting, cinnamon stick, caramel sauce and golden raisins. In contrast to the baked goods sweetness, there is also some black pepper flakes, wet tobacco and a little bit of leather. There is a slight earthiness and bitterness to this rye too, which comes across much like a handful of dandelion salad greens. It’s not off-putting, but that may be a trait of a slightly younger distillate blended into this.
Finish: A lot of typical MGP rye notes open up upon the swallow. Opening my mouth afterwards develops a nice pine and menthol cooling effect while stone fruits appear with peppermint. The finish is not as sweet as other ryes out there that I’ve had, but there is still some sweetness present. The toasted orange peel from the nose shows back up in the form of candied orange peel now.
This is a very well blended rye. It’s got the sweet and spicy notes that I’m after along with an oily mouthfeel. However, at $53, I am quickly snapped back into reality that this is not a good value. With Bone Snapper Rye store picks coming in with an age statement (I can still get a 6.5 year old bottle) at cask strength (usually around 120 proof) for just $3 more, I’m probably going to pick that. Also, Bone Snapper Ryes almost always use the MGP 95/5 Rye Mashbill that made them famous in the first place and it delivers the perfect blend of sweet and spicy that these MGP blends are trying to customize for the customer.
I want to see MGP’s Rossville Union Rye label thrive and expand, but unless this was marked up more than it should be (which I doubt, the 94 proof is $36 and the barrel proof is $65), then this product is going to set on the shelf much like it’s siblings. It’s a sad reality for one of my favorite brands.
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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