Revisiting: Rubicon Rye

2019 release

MASH BILL – 100% rye

PROOF – 96

AGE – NAS (finished 6-18 months in a second barrel)

DISTILLERY – Dry Diggings Distillery

PRICE – $72

WORTH BUYING? – Yes indeed

I first posted about Rubicon Rye over two years ago, in a flight of Dry Diggings whiskeys that also included their Bodie 5 Dog and 31n50 Barrel 4. The current bottle on the table is my third in as many years. I also enjoyed a 2018 set of 375ml bottles of various Dry Diggings Rubicon Rye single barrel experiments, each offering insights into the impact of varying levels of barrel charring and aging. So it’s a rye I’ve spent time with. As it hails from the area where I grew up in Northern California, for that reason as well it holds a special place on my shelf.

In my first encounter with Rubicon Rye, I was struck by its incredible range of rich colors and fruit flavors, and the depth achieved in very few years via careful blending, a second barreling, and the radically dry and hot Northern California weather. It has remained a consistent pour over the three+ years I’ve been drinking the brand. I revisited the lovely Dry Diggings single malt, Bodie 5 Dog, a little over a year ago and that was a pleasing reacquaintance. So it seemed about time to return to the Rubicon.

These brief notes were taken about a month after uncorking, and a handful of pours into the bottle, using both traditional and Canadian Glencairns.

COLOR – deep reds and oranges like fire at night

NOSE – reaches right out of the bottle on uncorking and the glass on pouring, with rich bing cherries, dry rye spices and grasses, dry caramel fudge, and toasted oak

TASTE – Like the nose it’s juicy and dry at once, with multiple cherry notes given texture by the rye and oak spices

FINISH – warming, with lingering cherry and spice notes

OVERALL – a consistently lovely whiskey, equally sweet and spicy

I just like this one. It’s both cozy and bright, sweet and dry. The promise of the vibrant color comes through in the tasting experience. There is energy and depth. It’s complex enough without getting complicated, making it equal parts “crowd pleaser” and a “connoisseur’s rye.”

Obviously I enjoy this neat. It would no doubt make an amazing Manhattan. It’s very easy to drink, the 96 proof adding just enough oomph to lift those rye and wood spices up from the dense sweet cherry notes.

The overall presentation—simple label and solid bottle—is no nonsense, old fashioned and straightforward. The thick bottle almost seems to magnify the vibrant colors within. Minimal filtering has left billowing clouds of wood sugars floating in the whiskey, visual evidence of the thick rich flavors inside. I appreciate how it is at once youthful and mature, a smart kid with panache.

Like all Dry Diggings products, Rubicon Rye is not easy to come by. They aren’t big into distribution, preferring the personal touch with their customers and to avoid distributor’s mark ups. I’ve only ever picked up their products via an in-person visit to the distillery. But their website now features expanded online ordering, with certain geographic restrictions. If they can deliver to your neck of the woods, and you’re a fan of fruity, spicy ryes, this Rubicon is worth the shipping.

Pick up a bottle of their Engine 49 bourbon or rye while you’re at it. I’ve not yet posted about those here on the blog, but I have a strong memory of a wild flight night when a bottle of Engine 49 Barrel Strength Bourbon held its own alongside some Wild Turkey and Elijah Craig, and that ain’t no small feat.


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