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Redemption Rye Whiskey

Redemption Rye Whiskey


By Robert Plotkin

Rye whiskeys have a long and storied history in the United States and prior to Prohibition, it was our nation's whiskey of choice. George Washington distilled rye at his home in Mount Vernon and it was at the whiskey at the center of the Whiskey Rebellion of 1791. For more than century its production centered in and around Pennsylvania and Maryland, areas where large numbers of Scottish and Irish immigrants settled and applied their knowledge and expertise in distillation.

Following World War II, however, sales of rye whiskeys went into a protracted slump, a decline that reflected the steadily rising popularity of soft blended Scotch whiskies and light bodied bourbons. By the 1970s, rye whiskeys had all but disappeared from American bars.

Fortunately that trend has reversed and the bold, exuberant flavors of American ryes have again attracted a broad-based following. It's easy to understand why after a sip or two. They're broad shoulders whiskeys bred with a lot of personality, a character no doubt molded from our collective national self-image. A sterling example of this classic whiskey is Redemption Rye Whiskey.

The ultra-popular brand is distilled in Indiana from a mash bill of 95% premium rye and 5% malted barley, which is considerably more than the minimum government standard of 51% rye. After it exits the still, the whiskey is transported to Bardstown, Kentucky where it is aged in new, charred white oak barrels for an average age of between 2 1/2 years to 3 years. It is then filtered and rendered to 46% alcohol (92 proof).

Redemption Rye is a classy whiskey perfectly in step with contemporary tastes. The amber/reddish whiskey has a satiny, lightweight body and a wafting cinnamon, dried fruit, malt, toffee and toasted oak nose. Its aromatics are well worth the price of admission. The entry is spicy warm and immediately expands filling the mouth with the flavors of allspice, coffee, chocolate, vanilla, black cherries and toffee with pronounced rye grain notes. The finish is long, flavorful and decidedly spicy.

Redemption is a traditional style of rye whiskey that deserves being sampled neat, or over a few cubes of ice. The whiskey has sufficient vitality to shine on its own. But as great as it is sipped straight, Redemption Rye is that much better featured in a classic cocktail, such as the Old Fashioned, Sazerac or Manhattan.

Aficionados and whiskey enthusiasts will rejoice over Redemption Barrel Proof American Straight Rye Whiskey, which is precisely what the namesake whiskey tastes and smells like prior to being rendered to proof. The barrel proof release is distilled using the same rye mash bill as the Redemption Rye; however, the whiskey is left in the new, charred white oak barrels for a minimum of 6 years and bottled at a lip-tingling 60.9% alcohol (121.8 proof).

The barrel proof expression offers a rare opportunity of enjoying the whiskey exactly as it came off the wood. It has a deep amber/red hue, a medium-weight body and a generous spice and fruit bouquet. The palate is saturated with spice, fruit and the flavor of toasted oak.

The brand also makes Riverboat Rye, 80 proof, an unfiltered rye whiskey matured in new American white oak for less than 4 years. The lack of filtering gives the whiskey a slightly hazy appearance, which lends it an authentic look. The small batch rye is splendid to drink on its own or to use in a craft cocktails.