It's no secret that barrel-aging whiskey has a profound affect on the finished product. Years of interaction with the wood imbue the spirit with color and oak-induced flavors. Over time, the spirit slowly matures and loses much of its youthful vitality and character.
That said, there's something to be said for whiskey so skillfully crafted that its a bona fide pleasure to drink without it first having to be locked away in oak barrels. This realization has sparked the growing trend of bottling white whiskey, or what back in the day was referred to as "White Dog" or "White Lightning."
Unflattering as those monikers are, white whiskeys are finding favor with enthusiasts and aficionados alike. When well made they're typically flavorful, exuberant and surprisingly refined, not at all like the breath-robbing firewater portrayed in the movies. Among the very best is Trybox Series New Make Rye Whiskey.
There are two reasons why this is an incomparable whiskey. The first is that it's produced at Heaven Hill Distillery in Bardstown, Kentucky, the nation's largest independent, family-owned and operated spirits producer and marketer and the world's second-largest holder of Kentucky Bourbon. It has also earned renown as the only American distiller that makes bourbon, rye, corn and wheat whiskeys.
The second reason is that the master distiller at Heaven Hill is and has been for the past 50+ years the inimitable Parker Beam. Heaven Hill's associate distiller, Craig Beam, is following in his father's footsteps.
Introduced in May 2011, Trybox Series New Make Rye Whiskey is an unaged whiskey distilled from a mashbill comprised primarily of rye with lesser amounts corn and barley malt. If aged it would become the distillery's landmark Rittenhouse Rye Whiskey. The whiskey is taken straight from the still and remains unadulterated, exactly how distillers Parker and Crain Beam first taste them. The term "trybox" refers to the copper and glass device attached to the still where the freshly made whiskey flows through.
Bottled at 62.5% alcohol by volume (125 proof)—which is the strength the whiskey would be upon entering the barrel—Trybox Series New Make Rye Whiskey is crystal clear with a medium-weight, velvety textured body and a brilliant bouquet brimming with the semisweet aromas of rye grain, fresh corn, citrus zest and dried herbs. The elevated alcohol content makes the entry quite warm, but when it's diluted a tad with spring water, the whiskey fully blossoms revealing a spicy, citrusy palate. The finish is long and warm with cinnamon notes.
Heaven Hill has also released Trybox Series New Make Corn Whiskey. It is unaged and is distilled primarily from corn with lesser amount of rye and malted barley. If aged it would be used in such hallmark bourbons as Evan Williams and Elijah Craig. The clear whiskey is medium-weight and generously endowed with the aroma of freshly shucked corn. It has a focused corn palate and warm, semisweet finish.
Many thanks to Parker and Craig Beam for sharing these young, unfettered whiskeys.