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(rī)1 Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey

Review: (rī)1 Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey 77/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted on October 9, 2011

(rī)1™ (pronounced rye one) Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey is a rye whiskey produced by Beam Global Spirits. It is a blend of several different straight rye whiskeys of differing ages (minimum 4 years). It is bottled at 45 % alcohol by volume bringing a little more zip to the palate than a lower proof spirit.

I was gifted a bottle recently when my oldest son traveled to Boston and decided to pick me up something that I wouldn’t find here in Alberta. I decided that a review of this spirit here on my website would be a fun exercise.

In the Bottle 4/5

With the permission of the Beam Global team here in Alberta I borrowed the bottle shot (J-Peg) of (rī)1™ Rye Whiskey shown to the left. I like the bottle, but I am not enamoured with the label. Beam Global advertises this straight rye whiskey as an ultra-premium whiskey, but the label says bottom shelf to me. I guess they are trying to be sleek and minimalistic. The bottle captures that feel, the label does not.

In the Glass 8.5/10

I poured out a small sample of the (rī)1™ into my glencairn glass and began my review with a good look at the whiskey. It is a golden spirit which is consistent with a straight whiskey which has spent at least four years in new oak barrels. I gave my glass a tilt and a slow swirl and discovered a moderately heavy sheen on the inside of the glass which gave up medium-sized legs that ran back slowly down into the whiskey. Again this is consistent with my expectations.

The nose from the glass is full of wood and rye spice. The woody notes are manifesting themselves as banana peel which has a certain astringent spiciness similar to the sharpness of Appleton Reserve Rum. Dry rye grain notes are evident, which adds to that spicy flair, although I also sense some honeycomb in the breezes as well. Fresh sap filled pine planks are being cut somewhere in the background and green grassy tobacco smells well up as well.

The nose is very complex with woody oak, spicy rye, and sweet honeycomb and toffee. If you wait for it light baking spices finally arrive giving me an indication that allowing this whiskey to breathe will be a good thing.

In the Mouth 46/50

The initial entry into the mouth is a little rough. Fresh cut oak planks have imparted a some sharp sap flavours into the rye. There is a nice dose of vanilla, and some sweet honeycomb and punky toffee, but they seem to sit beside these sappy notes and do not serve to temper them. The rye spice seems a little lost in the sharp oak tannins, and my feeling is that this rye will be better served in a cocktail than neat or on the rocks.

In all, we seem to have a straight rye whiskey which displays some of the harsher aspects of fresh American white oak. This is spicy and sharp, and the whiskey certainly would have benefited from a longer period of aging to smooth and temper the bite. It is a pity that the complexity I noticed on the nose was to a degree lost in the woody sap flavours of the whiskey.

In the Throat 11/15

The finish is sharp and uncomfortable. There is a lot of hot spice, and a disconcerting burn in the throat. The sappy flavour of the fresh oak continues to heat the mouth well after the whiskey is consumed, and although some welcome flavours of caramel and honeycomb accompany the exit, the astringency of the whiskey dominates the finish.

The Afterburn 7.5/10

I discovered that I could not enjoy the (rī)1™ Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey on its own, as the sharpness of the whisky and the astringent flavours of the oak tannins defeated me. I did find however, that when I mixed the whiskey with ginger-ale and with cola that the transformation in the glass was remarkable. (rī)1™ makes a nice spicy Horse’s Neck, and a pretty good Buckeroo.

You may read some of my other Whisky Reviews (click the link) if you wish to have some comparative reviews.

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Suggested Recipes

The Buckeroo

Buckeroo

If you take the a typical whiskey and cola highball, and add bitters, it becomes a Buckeroo, and although the Buckeroo is typically made with bourbon, it tastes just as good with Rye Whiskey.

1 1/2 oz (rī)1™ Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey
dash Angostura Bitters
Ice
Cola
Slice of Lime for garnish

Build in a tall glass with ice
Complete with Cola
Garnish with a lime slice

Horses Neck

2 oz (rī)1™ Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey
4 to 8 oz Ginger Ale
Cracked Ice
peel from one lemon.

Place a spiral of lemon peel in a highball glass
Fill the glass halfway with cracked ice.
Add the rye whiskey
Add the ginger ale.
Enjoy !

The name “Horses Neck” apparently stems from the curvature of the lemon peel spiral which is reminiscent of a horses neck, or so I have been told.  The drink should be allowed to sit a few minutes before consumption to allow the oils from the lemon peel to be soaked into the ginger ale!

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As always you may interpret the scores I provide as follows.

0-25 A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49 Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59 You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69 Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74 Now we have a fair mixing rum or whisky.  Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79 You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84 We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89 Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94 Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+ I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.

Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be more familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and  Bronze medal  scale as follows:

70 – 79.5    Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5     Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95         Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+            Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)

 
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