Town Branch Single Barrel Reserve Straight Rye Whiskey
Rye — Lexington, KY, USA
Reviewed August 8, 2022
Liquor Barn barrel select, barrel #2675, bottle #59, barreled December 2015, bottled May 2021, 50.5% ABV. Finally, I found a single barrel of this rye. I have been to the distillery over most of the summer asking about a single barrel rye, and was left to drink whatever else sounded good at the bar while planning my next trip in this search. This distillery has always been a little "off" to me, and it wasn't until writing this review that I think I've figured out why. Usually American distilleries will start "side project" distilleries once they become successful, sometimes as a friendly competition, to double profits, or just to experiment in different spirits or climates, usually done so in different countries. In the case of Town Branch, THEY are actually the experiment, with the "sister distillery" in Europe actually being the flagship safe route. Either way, the new rye whiskey in the square bottle is miles improved from the tall bottle with rounded shoulders, and having finally found a single barrel, I'd love to see exactly where the flavors travel. A typical dark caramel color of a rye whiskey aged this long, but still slightly darker than the batched version of this same whiskey. Sweet molasses and bold cinnamon battle it out on the nose, with the outcome being a malty, spicy confusion of scents in the end. I'm trying to ignore the abysmal low amount of rye in the mash bill, but the sweet corn on the nose makes it very difficult to do so. Hoping this doesn't turn out to be a bad barrel, since I do enjoy the batched version just fine. Yikes. The flavor is full of spicy malt, like this were some kind of single malt whiskey with some capsaicin added. Low rye is one thing, but just barely over legal requirements for rye is embarrassing, and the flavor really shows that. Even the gum burn leaves so much to be desired, and trying to reach by applying some air only makes the sugary sweetness of the corn stronger, truly making me forget that I'm even drinking rye whiskey. Despite the malty sweet finish, after enough time, there is enough rye left in the air and gums to not be a hateful attempt at a proper rye whiskey. For the life of me, I don't know how the standard batched rye whiskey, that I had just a few weeks ago at most, can be this many galaxies away in taste just because it's one barrel. A shame really, but it makes me happy that it didn't cost very much, and I still have something to add to my barrel pick section regardless. Still, this was definitely regretful how much time was spent searching for this, and had I remembered how low the rye percentage was initially, I may have stopped the search, but the call for barrel picks, and at this price point, means I still would likely have picked it up anyway.