Rye & Sons Rye Whiskey Review

Drink Reviews whiskey
Rye & Sons Rye Whiskey Review

Pretty much any professional whiskey distiller will tell you that rye whiskey is more technically arduous to produce than the likes of bourbon, as the rye grain is known for being a finicky, labor-intensive mess to work with. And yet, the segment does have a notable advantage or two, with perhaps the biggest being this: Young rye often feels relatively “mature” at a significantly lower age statement than otherwise comparable bourbon. This is part of why the average rye whiskey on the shelf tends to be younger than the average bourbon, which helps to offset the relatively higher price points for rye. With that said, there are of course some young rye releases on the shelves–craft ryes especially, from small distilleries–that can feel rushed and overwhelmingly grainy, unable to overcome their own youth. And I was pleasantly surprised to find that Rye & Sons Rye Whiskey, the new vintage release from sommelier André Hueston Mack and Pinhook Bourbon Master Blender Sean Josephs, is not one of them. Despite apparently being quite young, and with a price tag that is eminently affordable, this bottle has composure that is beyond its years.

It’s funny to begin another review this way, only a few days after I tasted Luxco’s Rebel 100 Straight Rye, and marveled at its merely $20 price tag. In that piece, I observed that dynamite values in the rye whiskey world were increasingly hard to come by in 2022, and yet here I’ve run across not one but two new examples in the course of a week. It’s great to see these kinds of alternatives emerging, at a time when so much of the market seems to be limited releases with MSRPS of $100 or more.

Kudos, then, to Mack, the founder and award-winning winemaker of Maison Noir Wines, for choosing to go this particular route in designing a rye whiskey “for everyone,” one that ultimately ended up with an MSRP of $28. Like other releases from Pinhook, Rye & Sons is built around the vintage year plan, with one annual blend of the rye whiskey that will be available in each calendar year. This one is a sourced rye, “distilled in Danville and Frankfort, KY,” and bottled at a pretty robust 48.75% ABV (97.5 proof). It’s labeled as straight rye whiskey, but overall age range is unclear. It’s clear enough, however, that this is relatively youthful rye, although thankfully it doesn’t feel hampered by this.

So with that said, let’s get to tasting.

On the nose, Rye & Sons revels in toffee sweetness and big orange zesty notes, with a nature to the sweetness that reminds me of something confectionery–I don’t know what made me jot down “rock candy,” but I did. There’s a trace of chocolate and mint, along with some grassiness and resin that hints at the rye grain a bit more strongly.

On the palate, this one turns in a more unexpectedly sweet direction, with lots of vanilla and orange (creamsicle), sharing space with grilled peaches and toffee, and the suggestion of salinity. At the same time, however, it’s not one-dimensionally sweet by any means, as the profile retains plenty of rye spice and fresh cracked pepper, along with clove and something more like cola spice. Overall, the profile is a tad on the sweet side, and it doesn’t dive deeper into the more savory nuances of rye whiskey, but for a bottle that is likely a mere 2-4 years old, it’s more than complex enough. Or to put it another way, I’ve had a whole lot of young rye that was less purely enjoyable than this. Ethanol presence is quite mild and well integrated.

Overall, this is simply an easy to enjoy and very versatile young rye, calling out for all kinds of classic cocktail applications. At $28, it’s an undeniably good value, able to compete directly against high-value ryes from giants of the whiskey world. In a tidy package like this, you really can’t ask for much more than that.

Distillery: Pinhook Bourbon
City: Sourced, KY
Style: Straight rye whiskey
ABV: 48.75% (97.5 proof)
Availability: 750 ml bottles, $28 MSRP

Jim Vorel is a Paste staff writer and resident liquor geek. You can follow him on Twitter for more drink writing.

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