Barrell Rye Batch 003 $80 - 93 Points

If my weakness for good bourbon has grown in recent years, then my infatuation with rye is at a point that other whiskeys are getting jealous. When made well, rye possesses all the transformative powers of bourbon, but comes across as more centered and, as a result, can achieve at once higher heights of clarity and more profound depths of intrigue and satisfaction.

Because rye has not enjoyed the same renaissance (and, therefore, demand) as bourbon, it remains in shorter supply. After experimenting with the handful of moderately-priced and readily-available bottlings, Rittenhouse became my house rye, and the standard by which other ryes are measured. But then this came along...

The color of pale amber maple syrup might suggest a spirit occupying the higher octave end of the scale, but one whiff suggests this is more than a one trick pony. Providing instant teleportation into the cool bowels of a dusty rickhouse, the bouquet is full-bodied and round, with scents of a busy bakery, sweet caramel and vanilla, and lighter, faster-moving high tones. Like its Bourbon Batch 024 sibling, it delivers a full spectrum of electric flavors in a likewise approachable manner, which really sing with a few drops of water. Nuts, butter, staves, hide, and tobacco make up the heart, but it's the focus that grips and holds your gaze. The finish is a count down to your next sip. Terrific. Would make a tremendous gift - or addition to your collection. A blend of straight ryes ranging in age from 4 to 14 years from Indiana, Tennessee, Poland, and Canada, bottled at 116.79 proof. Available in select states or online. 93 Points. (Sample)