Matt and I visited Castle & Key Distillery back in December. We were picking up a bottle and visited with Brett Conners in the tasting room. Matt had not been to the distillery and wanted to see this legendary facility. Unfortunately, it was a Wednesday and the distillery was closed to tours. We were offered a tour, but declined as we did not want to further disturb their work more than necessary. We did walk around the grounds and visited their event bar in the old train station that serviced the distillery in E. H. Taylor, Jr.’s time. Most of our visit was in the tasting room with Brett and his team of tasters. One of the things we tasted was some of the single barrel rye that they were selling in the gift shop. Matt and I were impressed with this rye and I purchased a bottle to bring home for review.
It is an interesting rye whiskey. It has a mash bill of 63% rye, 17% yellow corn and 20% malted barley. It is aged in new, 53 gallon Speyside Cooperage barrels in the brick warehouse that was built by E.H. Taylor, Jr. & Sons in the 19th century. It is bottled at barrel proof with no chill filtering. Here are our tasting notes.
Restoration Single Barrel Rye Barrel 1497
Age: Four Years Old
- Mike: Rye grassiness, vanilla, dried apricots with a hint of cinnamon spice, and sweet oak wood.
- Matt: Sweet with caramel, rye grass, plums and a floral note of lilacs and sweet oak wood.
- Mike: Rye grass, vanilla and fruit – dried apricots and cherries with some cinnamon spice and sweet oak wood. Tasted with a dried cranberry and some white pepper comes out to join the party. Tasted with a pecan and the vanilla becomes a rich, sweet, French vanilla with a little milk chocolate and pepper spice.
- Matt: Very sweet with rye grass, caramel and brown sugar, dates and oak. The dried cranberry added a little buttered toffee and marshmallow to the mix. The pecan added noted of peanut butter, caramel and black pepper.
- Mike: Long and dry with oak and cinnamon spice. The dried cranberry added white pepper to the finish. The pecan gave the finish some notes of milk chocolate and black pepper.
- Matt: Long and spicy with notes of oak, tobacco and cayenne pepper. The dried cranberry added a stronger note of cayenne pepper and oak. The pecan made the finish very spicy with lots of pepper (Matt loves a spicy whiskey!)
I would pair this rye whiskey with a cigar that has lots of earthy tobacco and cedar spice in the smoke. I think I would reach for something from Fuente, maybe an Untold Story. A short smoke, but filled with these flavors in the smoke.
Photos Courtesy of Rosemary Miller