Liberty Pole Spirits Rye is made no by the Mingo Creek Craft Distillers, LLC of Washington, Pennsylvania. It takes its name from the Whiskey Rebellion of the 1790s tradition of planting the “Liberty Pole” in the ground when the whiskey rebels met to oppose the whiskey tax. The artisan distillers of modern Pennsylvania have had to plant their own, modern Liberty Pole to get the laws changed to allow them to create their legal distilleries once again. Since the State of Pennsylvania created a business climate that drove out all of their distilleries by the end of the 20th century, I am glad to see the rise of new Pennsylvania distilleries, because the State had a very rich pre-Prohibition heritage as a distilling State. I am even happier that they are also making very good rye whiskey.
The Liberty Pole Spirits website is a very good place to find information about their whiskeys. In the case of their rye, it states that it is 61% rye, 13 % red winter wheat, 13% rye malt, 13% six row distillers malt. They use American ale yeast and ferment for 144 hours. They double distill in copper pot stills, with a barrel entry proof of between 113-117. They are using 25 gallon barrels made from quarter sawn American white oak. I could not wish for any more openness as to what they are doing to make their whiskey. I do hope they eventually move on to 53 gallon barrels, but they do seem to have the half barrel maturation process conquered as well as it can be conquered.
The whiskey has an age statement of 18 months, but I am told there are some whiskey in the bottle that is two and three years old. Of course the age statement reflects the youngest whiskey used to make the brand. It is good whiskey and worth the $42 a bottle that sells for at the distillery.
Liberty Pole Spirits Rye Whiskey
Age: 18 months
Nose: Rye grass, peaches, vanilla, fine leather and oak.
Taste: Rye grass, peaches, buttery caramel and baking spices – nutmeg and allspice. When tasted with a dried cranberry, the fruit comes forward with lots of ripe peaches and caramel, but the spice takes a backseat and almost disappears. When tasted with a pecan, the sweetness is reduced as the spice and oak come forward to dominate the flavor.
Finish: Buttery with oak and baking spices. The cranberry makes the finish short and sweet with lingering caramel and only a hint of oak. The pecan made the finish very long with lots of oak and the spice becomes peppery.
I am pairing this rye whiskey with a Nub Maduro cigar. I find the smoke to have notes of vanilla and cedar spice that should complement the sweetness and spice notes of the rye. It works very well with the rye adding a note of chocolate and fine pipe tobacco to the smoke. The cigar smoke brings out some sweet oak notes with the caramel and peaches of the whiskey. It works very well as a pairing which I will do again.
Photos courtesy of Rosemary Miller