A Clear-Cut Winner Emerges in Blind Tasting for Best Rye of 2020 – Which Whiskey Won?

Fred sat down to do his blind tasting of ryes to see which of his Whiskey-of-the-Year candidates would come out on top.

The contenders were: Barrell Batch 3 Rye, Sonoma Rye, Sazerac Rye 18 Year, Dad’s Hat Pennsylvania Rye, Elijah Craig Rye, Rabbit Hole Founders Collection 6 Year Rye and James Pepper 1776 Rye. He made note that some other very good rye whiskeys didn’t quite make the cut for this tasting, including Pinhook, Angel’s Envy and Wilderness Trail.

Interestingly, one of the seven whiskeys involved jumped out immediately and ended up taking the crown – but that doesn’t mean it was necessarily an easy task for his well-trained palate. In fact, about halfway through the tasting, as Fred was getting down to the final four, he let his feelings about the tasting be known in his own way: “Fuck, this is hard.”

Along the way, he flicked away a critic of his ascot (“Hollywood neck tie???”) and reiterated he won’t be singing on any of the live streams, which is probably best for all involved.

But of the winner, he said, “What Glass C does is what only the greatest whiskeys of all time do: And that is that it completely just mesmerizes – mesmerizes – my palate. Like, every single inch of my palate, inside my mouth, is getting some kind of tingle or sensation, and it just, like, takes me. I really am at a loss for words for it.”

So, without further ado, here’s how the blind tasting ended up:

7. Glass B, Sonoma Rye – Sweet aroma, cherry, sawdust, cedar; meaty, fleshy, lot of savory notes, butter. “Its own style. Too sweet for me.”

6. Glass E, James Pepper 1776 – Nose is not pleasant; flavor flattens compared to the others. Basic rye bread with butter profile, very basic. “It almost feels like it’s not supposed to be on this table. Good every-day sipper.”

5. Glass D, Rabbit Hole Founders Collection – Earth, spice, pumpkin pie, hint of marzipan, roasted pine nut note. Oakiness, astringency emerges.

4. Glass G, Barrell Batch 3 – Pepper highway, baking spices, pepper keeps coming. “Just seeing in-your-face, here’s some spice kind of flavor. I kind of like it. Spice bomb of epic proportions. (But) it’s a one-note wonder.”

3. Glass F, Elijah Craig – Reese’s cup, chocolate city, ginger, earth, tastes like Christmas. “Wooooh. Well, hello Glass F. … Very impressive.”

2. Glass A, Dad’s Hat Rye – Fresh cut grass, herbal candies; tastes like rye toast with gorgeous spicy jelly note. “Big and right up on ya. Glass A is legit. A is a great whiskey – not a good whiskey, a great whiskey.”

1. Glass C, Sazerac 18 Year Rye – Beautiful cherry note, cherry pie. “God, that’s beautiful. I really love this one. So good. Sumbitch. C is your clear-cut winner.”

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One Reply to “A Clear-Cut Winner Emerges in Blind Tasting for Best Rye of 2020 – Which Whiskey Won?”

  1. I tried the Sonoma Rye recently and wasn’t crazy about it. I was surprised to see it on this table. It was too alcoholy for me yet normally I like those type ryes. Oh well, the beauty of subjectivity!

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