T8ke and r/Bourbon 2022 Rye Selection
It seems wild that my previous Driftless Glen experience was 3+ years ago. They have come such a long way and I’m here to witness and experience that growth. Fast forward to 2023 and I’ve now reviewed two different single-barrel ryes this year alone with another 4 on the way!
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Distillery: Driftless Glen
Region: Baraboo, Wisconsin.
Age: 5 Years, 51 Days.
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: A unique coffee-forward nose with familiar rye spices start you off on a great path with this whiskey. Orange peel and lemon extract. Heavy clove with a touch of bitter herbs and spices like caraway or tarragon. Distinct pine sap resin from fresh-milled lumber. With that additional rest time the coffee notes I initially smelled started to become more noticeable. It’s a green coffee aroma just as you begin roasting the beans. Dilution also boosts the earthy elements. Candied walnuts and almond flour in light, fluffy butter cookies (Kourabiedes if you’ve had them!). It might just be my imagination but lastly, powdered sugar.
Palate: An unfortunate first impression is a thin texture that will take a bit to get used to. Sweet forward rye notes. Demerara sugar, toffee, caramel, and a touch of molasses. Peanut brittle comes to mind with some earthy, soil notes coming through. Water does a lot of heavy lifting here, bringing out the sweet components even further. Buttered, whole grain sourdough rye bread. Unexpectedly fruity with some tart raspberry or dried cranberry.
Finish: Grainy, cereal-forward finish that’s so bold and herbaceous, it’s like drinking a ‘Green Machine’ spinach and alfalfa sprout shake. The sweetness from the palate is sadly missing on the finish. At this point, I set my initial glass down to rest further. It certainly needed air or water, so I poured a second glass to play with dilution while that glass rested. Water certainly helps the finish along with some citrus oils, clove, and memories of holiday cookies. Bread and yeast notes are more accentuated with a rosemary focaccia flavor. There is a sweetness but it’s not quite maple, not quite honey, but maybe a tinge of both in a simple syrup. Think of a honey glaze on a freshly baked boule of bread.
Think less and let it rest. It’s not a complicated whiskey but the flavors mature with time and dilution. I enjoy the rye-ness of this selection but I miss that black tea note from my previous review. I think while it’s also on the sweeter side, it lacks a singular push be it from honey, molasses, or caramel. It just kind of tastes like an extract or a flavored syrup.
This is still miles better from those first few single barrels I purchased so long ago. I love how Driftless is in a full glow-up. Their whiskey has turned a corner for the better and the profile is there, just not this particular single barrel.
Final Score: 82