This sings a tune of balance, with caramel, coconut, chocolate, barrel char, and campfire smoke harmonizing at the opening. Next comes an amazingly complex series of herbal notes: dill, oregano, and thyme. That’s when cinnamon bread, coffee, and crème brûlée take over; each note super concentrated and rounded. The long finish presents a hint of cinnamon. This is a must-have sipper. (450 bottles)
Redemption repeats their barrel-proof MGP-sourced 95% rye, now at 7 years old. Has a year significantly changed last year's 90-point outing? Oak is more subdued and the pepper floats on sweet, light caramel. It is still quite nice at full-bore, no water needed. Sweet vanilla and bitter rye oil blend surprisingly well; this is hitting the bells, and it's better integrated. Big, swaggering, and sporting big-barrel maturity. Can go toe-to-toe with almost any rye out there.
Redemption delivers a 10 year old, barrel proof rye (sourced from MGP); the bottled whiskey is mingled from only six barrels. Nose of hot, bitter rye spice and caramel with oak. Great whambam! feel of sweet whiskey followed immediately by oily, spicy rye, which then controls the flavor and finish without dominating. Not over-oaked, and these older MGP barrels are finally showing what 95% rye can do. At 6 years, it could be a high-rye bourbon; this simply shouts rye. Fascination.
Big vanilla and toasty oak meet the generous sweetness of overripe plums and cooked fruits, like canned peaches and marmalade. The deep char aromas suggest toasted marshmallows and bananas Foster, with glints of rose petal. The flavors pour forth like dense fruit preserves, coupled with sweet dried corn, whole-grain toast, and waxy notes of paraffin and honeycomb. A richly layered, complex rye with dried herbs and strawflower on the finish.
Redemption Barrel Proof High Rye 9 year old, 54.6%
Rye Whiskey | $100
First impression: spice and herbs completely own the moment. Then caramel, vanilla, and the cadre of baking spices develops into identifiable clove, cardamom, ginger, crushed poppy seeds, and cinnamon. Then the spice turns to another style: pepper, with hints of earthy black pepper and habañero jelly. Slight hints of vanilla, powdered sugar, and marshmallow appear just before a medium-to-long finish with a spicy caramel chew.
6 year old MGP rye at full Booker’s-style unfiltered proof. Strong barrel/warehouse reek, some pepper, and a hint of dill. Shock: drinkable at 61%. Rich barrel flavors: oak, light maple, and custardy vanilla, albeit quite hot. Mint and pepper zip around the mouth; now on the tongue, now on the roof, racing down the throat, a big, active whiskey. Finish bubbles on with pepper and prickle, daring you to stick in a quarter and ride it again. An experience.
Chocolate, vanilla cream fried pie, and herbs offer insight into this opening round of a fabulous whiskey. Cornbread, pecan pie, roasted walnuts, and chocolate-flavored coffee hit mid-palate, followed by cinnamon roll, pumpkin spice, and mint. But the finish falls slightly short, only offering a hint of caramel.
Redemption High Rye Straight Bourbon (Batch 122), 46%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $30
The nose offers caramel custard, chocolate, and maple syrup. An oak-driven palate has lots of heat and integrated spice, but is also loaded with chocolate, coffee beans, almonds, and maple syrup. The finish is the best part, with rich notes of chocolate, coffee, and spice, but plenty of finesse. Water brings out more chocolate on a slightly tart but rich finish. Lots of assertive flavors, but with a gentle, smooth texture.
At first the nose is dominated by wood—pencil shavings and Popsicle sticks—but it soon reveals violets, blueberries, grape Kool-Aid, and peppery spice. The palate is dry, with nuts, herbs and spices, mocha, and semi-sweet chocolate; a few drops of water help with integration and bring out more fruit, including lemon meringue pie. It finishes nutty and dry, with coffee beans and a touch of lemon.
Initially, floral and fruit meet oak and a cadre of baking spices. Then it’s a plethora of vanilla in several forms, from icing to pudding, followed by notes of butterscotch, fudge, Oreo cookies, and pecan shell. Sweet cigar tobacco and honey follow this home to a short to medium finish with a hint of peach cobbler. Ideal for cocktails.
Sweet and smoke open this interesting whiskey that bounces from sweet to savory throughout. Vanilla and caramel meet burnt oak and charcoal smoke, followed by cinnamon, nutmeg, and a lot of coffee. Hazelnut and salt water taffy jump in for a quick note just before a medium finish with a hint of smoke.
Very grassy, with dry earth and pink peppercorn layered in, but none of the heat you’d expect from unaged 92 proof rye. Very well-behaved on the tongue; oily, bittersweet, with the 95% rye mash rolling like an unhurried river, one long, smooth wave of rye flavor. A whiskey like this could be called too simple, but this is strikingly single-minded. A likely candidate for cocktails at the price.
Think of an herb garden. It’s pronounced with herbs such as parsley, dill, and hints of basil and mint. Fruits develop (canned peaches and pears), followed by earth, floral, and oak. Then a medicinal note sets in, forming as cherry cough syrup, striking an unbalanced, astringent mouthfeel with hints of mint and salted chocolate. A drop of water softens the medicinal approach and returns the herbal, fruity, and earthy richness. Finishes medium with a hint of dill.
The back label of this whiskey describes it as “feisty,” and feisty it is! Brandishing 95% rye (another Canadian flavoring whisky that was diverted?), bottled at 46%, and at a relatively young age (around two years old), this whiskey lets you know you are alive. It’s very spicy, with crisp evergreen, warming cinnamon, clove, rooty licorice, dark chocolate, and suggestions of gin botanicals. Spicy, vibrant finish. I’m having fun drinking this au naturel (the whiskey, that is), but this would also zing in a cocktail, the same way smoky Islay whiskies make their presence known in a blended scotch. Value Pick.
Warmth. Bakery flavors set in right away, illustrating both sweet and spice: cinnamon bread, vanilla, yellow cake batter, gingersnaps, no-bake oatmeal cookies. Then, hints of smoke, dark cherries, chipotle pepper, and a slight hint of butterscotch. As is, it disappointingly finishes short, with a hint of cardamom. Water adds caramel complexity to the previously short finish.
Aged “over 2 years” and with over 38% rye in the mashbill (high for bourbon). It’s fresh, youthful, and brisk, with sweet corn, bright fruit, brittle mint, cinnamon, and a dusting of cocoa, leading to a slightly aggressive finish. A bit too youthful, actually, for sipping—it would benefit from a few more years’ aging. Save this one for your next Manhattan. Its sibling, Redemption Rye (of similar age), fares better (84).