Old Line Bourbon Selection “English Toffee”
Back in early 2020, I had my first experience with Driftless Glen. I had previously never heard of the distillery but was curious about the craft scene at the time and took the plunge. Let’s just say I wasn’t very impressed. Both bottles were eventually used in cocktails as they had distinct unpleasant characteristics of youthful whiskies.
I was hesitant to buy another bottle until ages reached roughly 6 years old and well, that time has arrived. Eager to see how their spirit evolved in the last 3 years and happy to see they moved to the more common 53 Gallon barrel size.
Distillery: Driftless Glen
Region: Baraboo, Wisconsin.
ABV: 60.5%. Cask strength.
Age: 5 Years.
Cask type: New Charred Oak.
Color: 1.5, Auburn. Natural Color. Minimal filtration.
Tasted neat in an Glencairn glass with 10+ minutes of rest. Small amount of dilution was added with additional rest of about half an hour.
Nose: Glorious rye spices with a cinnamon forward nose. Cloves, caraway, and toasted almonds, and very light star anise. Sweet grassy notes. Sweet lemon iced tea, sauteed green onions, and grilled lemongrass. Toasted oak and fresh green lumber. A lambic sour and a fermented pineapple tepache aroma pops up occasionally. After an extended rest, there’s a vanilla bean paste I don’t know how I initially missed. Distinguishable and leans into the maple syrup sweetness even. I’d advise against adding water to this dram as it brings out unpleasant astringent alcohols.
Palate: Tannic vanillins wash over your palate with your first sip. The rye character builds slowly as you chew this whisky bringing out that wonderful grassy woodiness. A touch of mint and fruit build at the back of your palate. Mandarin oranges and orange bitters. Clove, cinnamon, and some black tea bitterness. Water really pumps up the heat and oak. Not to an unpleasant level but far more prominent and sets the balance slightly askew.
Finish: The wood, grass, and mint follow through to the finish. More lactic and fermenting fruit notes peek through. I am getting a familiar dry erase marker note that must simply be a characteristic of Driftless Glen rye to me. It’s less noticeable than the old picks but it’s lurking in the background. Where dilution enhanced faults on the nose and palate for me, it blooms this absolutely wonderful tobacco flavor on the finish. I did not find this note elsewhere and was very surprised after adding a touch of water to my glass.
This sample surprised me. I am impressed with how far Driftless Glen has come in such a short amount of time. This rye is delightfully fruity and spicy with all the herbal black tea goodness that I appreciate in my ryes.
At times I felt like it was rather simple and straightforward but as I let it sit, it evolved in my glass. It builds character and each subsequent sip is better than the last. It was easy and enjoyable to drink but if you peel back the layers, you’ll find some complexity that is fun to explore.
Final Score: 88