This post sponsored by the Glencairn Whisky Glass

About 7 or 8 years ago, I was a judge at the ADI conference at the Starlight Distillery in Indiana. That is where I met Scott Harris. He and his wife Becky founded the Catoctin Creek Distillery about that time and I had a chance to taste the new-make spirit for their rye. I liked it. It showed real promise. They had everything fundamentally correct and I enjoyed the flavors I tasted in the rye spirit. I have been looking forward to tasting their aged rye ever since that meeting. 

A few weeks ago, they sent me three bottles of their rye at different proofs. I like them. They are all 100% rye whiskeys and non-chill filtered. They don’t say whether they are using enzymes or malted rye for the conversion from starch to sugar, but I suspect that it is enzymes. If they malted rye, I would think they would mention it on the label. I don’t know their barrel entry proof, but I suspect that it is around 110 to 115 since the cask strength version is 116 proof. There is no age statement on these whiskeys so they are at least 4 years old, but there could be older whiskey in these bottles.

The cigar I am pairing with these whiskeys is an Esteban Carreras “Brownstone” cigar. I find the smoke full of umami flavors of Worcestershire sauce and earthy hay and tobacco with hints of vanilla and dried fruits. I think it will pair well with these rye whiskeys.

Catoctin Creek Roundstone Rye

Proof: 80

Age: No Age Statement

Nose: Rye grass, Buttered pecans, lemongrass and vanilla.

Taste: Very buttery with rye grassiness, vanilla, baking spices and a little oak. When tasted with a dried cranberry an herbal note comes out – think of an herbal butter on Italian bread. Tasted with a pecan and citrus comes out – either a sweet orange or tangerine note.

Finish: Long with buttery baking spices. The dried cranberry made the spices in the finish very peppery but it is a floral white pepper, not black pepper. The pecan brings out the oak making it a very dry finish.

The cigar made the whiskey less buttery and more peppery. The whiskey made the smoke stronger in vanilla flavor and sweeter.

Catoctin Creek Roundstone Rye

Proof: 92

Age: No Age Statement

Nose: Rye grass, lots of oak and a little herbal butter and vanilla.

Taste: Rye grassiness, vanilla, a little berry fruit – black or raspberry with a nice tartness, a hint of butter and oak wood. When tasted with a dried cranberry some citrus comes out and a little wintergreen mint. When tasted with a pecan there is that sweet orange or tangerine citrus note with butter and oak wood.

Finish: Long with dry oak wood and some of the tart berry flavor. The dried cranberry made the finish longer with a hint of the wintergreen added to the oak. The pecan made the finish very long and dry with oak and pepper spice.

The cigar made the whiskey spicier and reduced the butter flavor.  The whiskey made the smoke stronger with cedar spice.

Catoctin Creek Roundstone Rye Cask Strength

Proof: 116

Age: No Age Statement

Nose: Most complex nose yet – Rye grass, vanilla and caramel, butter, candied fruit and oak.

Taste: Rye grass, caramel, candied pears, butter and oak. Tasted with a dried cranberry and a lemon zest citrus comes forward with a little baking spice and candied pear. Tasted with a pecan and it becomes very peppery – black pepper and oak dominate the flavor.

Finish: Long and dry with lots of oak and white pepper. The dried cranberry sweetened the finish some and shortened it, but still peppery. The pecan enhanced the oak and made the pepper a black pepper.

The cigar made the finish of the whiskey more of a baking spice but still peppery – maybe nutmeg or mace with the white pepper. The whiskey made the cigar smoke less earthy with more vanilla and cedar spice.

I like these whiskeys. I think that if they do an older version, say 8 years old, it will make them even better as the barrel gives up more vanilla and caramel. They pair well with the cigar and dried cranberry, but I think I will avoid having nuts while drinking these whiskeys.

Photos Courtesy of Rosemary Miller