Lock

Review: Hochstadter's Vatted Straight Rye Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Photo courtesy of Hochstadter’s Whiskey.

Photo courtesy of Hochstadter’s Whiskey.

ABV
50%
Aging
4-15 Yrs; Virgin Charred Oak
Recipe
Various
Distiller Various

Now here is something rather interesting! This is a mixture of 4-15 year old straight rye whiskies from Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Indiana, and Alberta. It’s quite rare to see mixtures of vatted straight ryes from different distilleries - this is the only one that comes to mind. Moreover, this is another Canadian-American blend which is rare, but present in some premium examples like Little Book. I love the Hochstadter’s 16 year old, and the Lock,Stock and Barrel whiskies all from Cooper Spirits - so I have high expectations here.


Review (2019)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2019

A gorgeous nose, with a lot of depth. Oak, caramel, a farmy grain character, dried fruit, a light medicinal characteristic, orange, baking spice, and dark potting soil. Amazing! It really blends together well the traditional styles of American and Canadian rye. The palate is slightly sweet, but rich and juicy with loads of spices, oak, citrus, and dried fruit. There is a really nice tannic structures on the palate, and a slight touch of acidity – making this very drinkable. The finish has some pomegranate, oak, clove, and cherry. Oak dominates at the end, with rich woody and vanilla notes.

The empty glass is glorious. Loads of spices, dried fruit, but it’s still slightly yeasty and farmy in a good way.

This is terrific! If I lived in a place where I could buy this, it would be my everyday rye.

Very Highly Recommended (19% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Very high. It’s not often that you can find something this good for prices like this.


Review: Hochstadter's Family Reserve 16 Year Old Straight Rye Whiskey by Jason Hambrey

Hochstadter+2.jpg
ABV
61.9%
Aging
16 Years; Virgin Charred Oak
Recipe
100% Unmalted Rye
Distiller Alberta (Calgary, Alberta)

This whisky was released at the same time as (my revered) lock, stock, and barrel 16 year old - it is from the same cache of barrels from Alberta Distillers which Cooper Spirits acquired - a cask strength, intense rye whisky. Alberta rye at over 60% - I must try this! It costs a pretty penny, though, sadly.


Review (2019)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2017

Now there is a nose! Quite candied, with loads of arugula, some spinach, light medicinal overtones, candied orange, prunes, plums, loads of clove, dried blueberry, dried cherry, dusty asphalt, oak, sundried tomatoes, loads of cedar – it just gets better with time. It reminds me a bit of the heavy caroni rums with some of the spice and medicinal notes. We have some dustiness too!

The palate is very herbal, lightly medicinal, dried spices – very Alberta. It ends in a rich flourish of arugula. Lavender,  throughout – it is quite sweet, with notes of icing sugar – moreso than other Alberta whiskies I’ve tried. This whisky is so huge, and so deep! The finish is oaky, rich, and still very fruity – lots of dried fruit, berry notes, clove, icing sugar, nutmeg, sweet oak, and the slightest bracing of tannin.

It is a very different whisky than Masterson’s, when compared side by side. The masterson’s isn’t as sharp or deep, and has a lot less vibrancy (if you can believe such a thing). Unbelievably, it puts masterson’s to shame – and masterson’s is one of the best Canadian rye whiskies, which rarely gets outdone. That says something.

I still like this a tad less than the Lock, Stock, and Barrel, which I feel isn’t quite as sweet and is a touch more balanced. Compared to the Lock, Stock, and Barrel 18 – this is less oaky, and more muscular, with deeper fruity and spicy notes.

Exceptional (3% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date receive this, my highest recommendation).

Value: Average. Amazing whisky (some of the best), but 200 USD is a price, for sure!


Review: Lock, Stock, & Barrel 18 Year Old Straight Rye Whiskey by Jason Hambrey

Image copyright,  Cooper Spirits Company .

Image copyright, Cooper Spirits Company.

ABV
54.5%
Aging
18 Years; Virgin Charred Oak
Recipe
100% Unmalted Rye
Distiller Alberta (Calgary, Alberta)

I love Alberta rye. Pot distilled rye is my favorite style of whisky, I won’t deny it, and it can be an acquired style with all of the sharp spiciness and rich character. Alberta Distillers is widely acknowledged as likely the best rye distillery in the world, and it certainly distills a massive amount of it – perhaps the most in the world, but that is a conjecture without evidence.

Cooper spirits hand selected a number of barrels of 100% unmalted rye matured in new oak from Alberta years ago, releasing first a 13 year old, then a 16, and now this 18 – all favorites of mine, and right up my wheelhouse in terms of style.


Review (2017)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2017

These Alberta ryes get a bit more restrained with age, but incredible spirit lies unfolds as you continue to nose. They start off sharp, spicy, and vegetal and soften, growing in fruit and oak integration with age. This has terrific, creamy fruit that sits on top – and underneath – black tea, arugula, iodine, rubber, pear, dense oak, cola, black licorice, ginger, dried peach, dark chocolate.

The palate is huge, with a load of arugula, tannic oak, cedar, and clove. It’s amazing how much the rubbery and medicinal notes carry through. Amazing aged notes – the oak both holds the grip in terms of flavor but also in terms of both maturity and reining in the powerful rye. The tannins are just about to the edge – but they are not quite too much. Huge finish, about as full of big, spicy rye as you can imagine, alongside tea. It has more creaminess and caramel than the 16 year old, but it’s not quite as vibrant, playful, and unique – and doesn’t have the incredible light fruit which makes it not only a good rye, but one of the best and most unique ryes I’ve tasted. Also, this is much oakier. So, now I’ve compared it to perhaps my favorite whisky of all time – this is still an unbelievable rye, indeed, an 18 year old new oak rye from the best rye producer in the world. It is pricy, but it is something....

Remarkable.

Exceptional (3% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date receive this, my highest recommendation).

Value: Low. It’s a terrific whisky, but comes at a big price (about 230 USD).


Review: Lock, Stock, & Barrel 16 Year Old Straight Rye Whiskey by Jason Hambrey

LS&B 16.jpg
ABV
53.5%
Aging
16 Years; Virgin Charred Oak
Recipe
100% Unmalted Rye
Distiller Alberta (Calgary, Alberta)

This, a 3000 case release, was let loose in April 2016 - a 16 year old, 107 proof, 100% rye from the most renowned rye distiller on the planet - not something you see every day! It was double pot distilled, aged in new charred oak, and passed on to R.J. Cooper and Son (who also bring us St. Germaine elderflower liquer) who released a 13 year old 3 years ago. The press doesn't say it is from Canada but that it is“aged in cold weather” ! Ha! Terrifically presented, with a great string opener for the seal.


Review (2016)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2016

The nose is terrifically spicy and fruity, with interesting and complex spice – brown cardamom, rancio – and lots of oak and caramel. Orange peel, toffee, dried apricot, cacao, nutmeg, clove, with a slightly medicinal character. Slightly creamy, blackberry, and with time – more grain notes – rye, oatmeal, soba noodles….just brilliant. It’s more open and a notch above the 13 year old (also terrific) with a lot more complexity immediately apparent on the nose.

The palate is, unsurprisingly, oaky and big, with tons of arugula but tempered by spice and dried fruit alongside caramel, custard, cumin, blackberry, blueberry, and dried peach. Incredible and developing finish full of vegetal and spicy notes, yet still holding onto some custard and creamy notes. The finish also has some amarula, spinach, clove, and canned peach. And we have our friend arugula. Wow. It’s a lot brighter and more fruity than it’s slightly more spice and grain-centric darker younger sibling, the 13 year old.

Exceptional (3% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date receive this, my highest recommendation). This is my favourite Canadian whisky of all time, and in my top 2 favourite whiskies I’ve ever tasted alongside Compass Box Flaming Heart.

Value: High, but only if you like big, complex ryes as much as I do - this is the best of those that I’ve tasted. It’s an expensive bottle, so it has to be in your niche to value it as highly as I do, despite the high price (about $200 CAD).


Review: Lock, Stock, and Barrel 13 Year Old Canadian Straight Rye Whiskey by Jason Hambrey

ABV
50.65%
Aging
13 Years; Virgin Charred Oak
Recipe
100% Unmalted Rye
Distiller Alberta (Calgary, Alberta)

This whisky is another independent bottling of Alberta Rye - aged 13 years, and hard to find - it is available in the US but not in Canada or elsewhere, as far as I have heard. This, now, has been replaced by a 16 year old. However, on to it:


Review (2016)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: ~2014

Medicinal, spicy, grainy. A bit of a reserved nose – it takes some time to open up. Orange, root beer, heavy bread baked with molasses, black currant jam, barrel char, and a bit of terrific Alberta character peeping through with some time. Some nice brown cardamom too, oak (but not full of coconut and vanilla- rather just quite woody), arugula, and spinach. The palate has lots of orange, and is quite dark overall – lots of arugula, black tea, lots of spice, and a developing finish which is just fascinating. I wish we saw more Alberta rye at 50%. This is a fabulous bottle. The finish is full of arugula, spice, roasted flavours, and tannins lightly puckering up your mouth but fading quickly in a cleansing way. It leads to a whole lot of rye in your mouth. Wonderfully rich, too…just a step behind Masterson’s but it is certainly close. My favorite style of whisky, here….

Very Highly Recommended (18% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Average. It isn’t cheap (about 115 USD), but it is a good whisky and an old rye, at that.