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Old Tahoe Straight Rye Whiskey

Old Tahoe Straight Rye


By Robert Plotkin

The odds are you haven't heard of the Old Tahoe Distillery in Fallon, Nevada, but if you're a whiskey enthusiast, you soon will. It is the producer of Old Tahoe Straight Rye Whiskey, a superb craft spirit brimming with spicy flavors, captivating aromas and a reasonable price tag. Those qualities are made even more notable when you factor in we're talking about a straight rye whiskey. Rye is easily the most challenging of the grains to distill, so when you find a handmade rye whiskey that's loaded with character and easy on the wallet, grab it.

Old Tahoe Straight Rye is the vision of Mark Taverniti, an accomplished wine maker and the founder and CEO of ultra-successful Spanish Peaks Brewing Company. Eventually his passion for skillfully crafted spirits led him to Fallon where he founded the Old Tahoe Distillery with the intention of creating great straight rye whiskey. In Old Tahoe he has achieved his goal.

The whiskey is crafted in small batches entirely from a mash bill comprised entirely of premium rye grown on the historic Frey Ranch and Farm. The all-important water used in production is drawn from aquifers fed from runoff from the Sierra Nevadas. After the fermented mash is distilled in a traditional pot still, the young whiskey is placed in new American white oak. One reason Old Tahoe Rye is so exceptionally flavorful is the barrels are subjected to a proprietary method of charring, which results in the staves and the ends of the barrels having different degrees of char.

The whiskey is allowed to mature for a minimum of 3 years. Relatively speaking, rye whiskey matures quicker than those made from corn, wheat or barley. When Taverniti deems the whiskey has reached optimum maturity it's bottled at 43% alcohol (86 proof).

Old Tahoe is an excellent example of why rye whiskeys are on fire here and abroad. It has ideal clarity, an attractive, reddish amber hue and a satiny textured, medium-weight body. The bouquet needs around 10 minutes or more to fully develop, so be patient and you'll be well rewarded. Its generous helping of aromatics includes jasmine, cinnamon, caramel, fresh fruit, berries, and most prominently, rye. Old Tahoe has a soft entry that rapidly expands and bathes the palate with the flavors of vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, chocolate and spicy rye. The finish is long, flavorful and spicy warm.

Its expansive character makes Old Tahoe an inspired choice as the foundation of a classic cocktail like the Manhattan. While an ideal whiskey to feature in cocktails, do yourself the favor of first sampling this sensational spirit neat. You may become so enamored with it that you'll put down the shaker and kick up your feet.

The distillery also makes Old Tahoe Honey Flavored Rye Whiskey, the straightforward combination of Old Tahoe Rye Whiskey and spring honey. The 70-proof gem is so delectable it'll appeal to anyone over the legal drinking age. The golden/amber whiskey has a velvety textured body and a focused bouquet of cinnamon, rye bread, nutmeg and honey. Its spicy/honeyed palate is soft and loaded with appeal.

Old Tahoe Honey enjoys unlimited creative applications behind the bar. For example, it makes a sensation addition to a Hot Toddy, or pour some over its namesake rye whiskey ala the Rusty Nail.

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