Single Barrel #417 selected by Seelbach’s (2022)
MASH BILL – 72% rye, 16% corn, 12% malted barley
PROOF – 112
AGE – 7 years 3 months
DISTILLERY – New York Distilling Co.
PRICE – $55
WORTH BUYING? – Yes
This is one of those rando purchases I sometimes make to trick myself into “saving money.” In early June I caught wind of a new Huling Station SiB from Seelbach’s, the go-to online source for interesting American craft whiskeys. I love Huling Station. But not wanting to pay shipping for just one bottle, I picked up this Ragtime Rye SiB as well. I knew nothing about it. But I like rye, and the Seelbach’s description sounded interesting. So now my shipping charge was spread over two bottles—plus another $55 for the bottle itself! Saving money…?
Chalk it up to the journey. New York Distilling Company and their Ragtime era rye caught my attention. I like New York. I like ragtime music. I like rye. A win win win?
The standard release Ragtime Rye is aged for 3 years on average and bottled at 90.4 proof. They also offer a Bottled In Bond version at the requisite 4 years and 100 proof. But at over 7 years and a hefty 112 proof, this SiB promised an amped up outing.
I like distilleries that use local grains from their local farms, and New York Distilling does that. They’re a small New York operation based in both Pine Island (where they distill) and Brooklyn (where they bottle and sell), and though the latter area is burdened by its hipster status, there is a reason people are attracted to it. Creative things happen there. Breuckelen Distilling is also doing interesting things in that borough. Some of the best art and performances in New York happen in odd corners there. And alcohol certainly has a history in New York in general. The cliche epicenter of both the Ragtime era (roughly the late-1890s through the 19-teens) and Prohibition (1920-1933) is a New York bar, with music and drink working their magic.
Perhaps Ragtime Rye would do right by its namesake and take me on a syncopated trip through time?
Here we are, a week and a half after uncorking and three pours into the bottle. These brief notes were taken using a traditional Glencairn.
COLOR – a lovely medium orange
NOSE – a bundle of dry rye and long-grass spices, black pepper, with a rich custardy caramel flowing beneath these herb and spice notes
TASTE – a thick syrupy texture, with flavors coming in waves: the dry herbs up front with unfinished oak, then the rich caramel and spices, then a decadent chocolate sauce note, ending back among the spices and herbs
FINISH – a wonderfully soft and fine prickly warmth, with lingering herb and spice notes floating on a deep current of the caramel and chocolate, a nice dash of sea salt, and some oak tannin adding edge without overwhelming
OVERALL – at once dry and syrupy, this is an herb, spice, and decadent candy lover’s rye
At uncorking I wondered if this rye was going to be too dry for me. And that’s coming from a fan of dry aromas and flavors, having grown up in the arid Northern California climate. But with just over a week to air out, today the whiskey strikes a wonderful balance.
The lack of fruit notes is more than made up for with that syrupy texture, reminiscent of caramel and chocolate sauces, which themselves figure notably into the taste in particular.
A great rye for a dry, sunny, cool Summer day—like the one on which I’m drinking it now. The sun is preparing to set and that famous San Francisco fog is just starting to roll on in, obscuring my view of Oakland and Mount Diablo across the bay.
In this rye I can taste the air on those mountain trails across the way, carrying wild drying grasses and the nearby salt sea air. So while Ragtime Rye hasn’t transported me back in time, it is transporting. Like a recent single malt I enjoyed from that other New York craft brand, Breuckelen Distilling, so too does this Brooklyn whiskey take me to my own coast and region. What is it about New York and California? Their people are very different. But their land seems to be in conversation. At least when one distills the grains grown on it, that is. Very interesting.
And very tasty. Sometimes good things do happen when you buy a rando bottle online to “save money.”