Now, me has before me Trybox rye dog, Delaware Phoenix (Cheryl Lins) Rye Dog, Cheryl Lins Rye Whiskey, High West 21 YO Rye Whiskey, and 23 YO Vintage rye. The first three are unaged or very young rye whiskies of an unknown rye content (but at least 51% and probably higher), The High West recipe is 53% rye grain. The Vintage rye is from Kentucky Bourbon Distillers and I have been unable to find the rye content in its recipe. I have tried to make them all around 95 to 100 Proof.
Cheryl's rye whiskies (I do not know how long the aged rye was in the barrel, nor the recipes) have the distinct, and to me quite arresting, flavor of the grain. Her aged rye is somewhat softer and has a bit less edge to it than her rye dog. Still, her rye dog has a jolt to it that arouses the palate with its intense flavors whilst revealing that it was a very 'clean' distillate, with no wayward flavors to distract the palate. Both are excellent whiskies. Her rye dog is formidable and suits the description Gary Gillman gave (in another post?) of the use of intensely flavored whiskies as intended for mixing (e.g. many strongly flavored Bourbons and Ryes), I think Gary was right on the mark in this observation.
Trybox, I believe is probably right around that 51% needed to call it a straight rye.......... on the bottle it notes that it contains corn and barley grains, and it is certainly much softer than Cheryl's ryes, still, (my opinion) Trybox rye is quite drinkable with a touch of water to tame its 125 proof.
Both the High West and the Vintage Rye owe a great deal to the softening and redirection of palate experience toward the wood. The rye spice (my opinion) plays off well against the tannins of the ultra aging. This explains, in my mind, why ultra aged rye whiskies are in general better than ultra aged bourbons (which are usually wheat and corn).
All of these whiskies, in my opinion, are worthy of comsumption, some may be best in the role of vatting, blending, or mixing with other whiskies or ingredients (Trybox, Cheryl's rye dog), while others can stand alone because of their uniquely challenging taste attack (Chery's rye whiskey). The High West and the Vintage rye will find favor with those of us who can and do appreciate the particular combination of ultra aging wood tannins, and the unique rye spice.
I can, do, and will continue to appreciate the unique qualities of TryBox and Chery's rye dog because (I think) of the quality of the distillate, which has no wayward edges to distract from the true flavors imparted by the grains. Trybox gives a heavy nod to its corn and barley components, whilst Cheryl's rye dog stays faithful to its rye sources.
There is no question that my palate favors the rye whiskey from Delaware Phoenix distillery, Cheryl Lins, master distiller. It is young, but clean, rye whiskey. Its adherence to the true grain flavors offers a unique whiskey experience, probably akin to what our ancestors enjoyed so many years ago. Occurs to me, as I think is the case, they were not deprived of first rate whiskey.
Methinks, some 'dog' whiskies are throwbacks to the days when an experience of the primal (fundamental) tastes of our ancestors were what was available - well before 'white bread', 'lite beer', 'prepared foods', and inoffensive 'super market frozen meals' - well before 'least common denominator' tastes were what producers sought. The rebellion against this mediocrity (in my opinion) began in England years ago with the Camra (Campaign for Real Ale) which spread slowly across the globe and demanded a return to truly flavorful beer. Americans began to take up the banner of more flavorful beers, next came Single Malt Whiskies....... which slowly affectly the American Bourbon scene, etc. etc. I may have the order of these transitions askew, but that I can, in a small Georgia town (a suburb of Atlanta) have access to so many beers and other alcoholic beverages is indeed a revolution.
It is true that few of you have access to the products from Chery Lins' distillery, but the products coming from other Artisanal distillers are out there (albeit not cheap), and they are influencing the major distillers (Trybox whiskey is a Heaven Hills product). BTW, Trybox Corn whiskey (which contains some rye), is like a softer version of its rye whiskey, and a good 'elemental' and clean whiskey.
Today's whiskey market is probably unrivaled in the variety of products available to the consumer. If you are in this hobby and 'game', be prepared to waste some money on some 'gimicky' products in search of those experiences that stimulate you palate and bring you a pleasurable drinking experienc.
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rage at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light. - Dylan Thomas