I’ve been watching Peerless Distillery for the last few years, mostly following them on social media. When they released their 24-month Rye, I was excited. And, earlier this year, I was able to taste Kentucky Peerless. I’m generally a fan of younger Ryes and found Kentucky Peerless to be very similar in taste to Willett’s Two-Year Rye, which I enjoyed.
Kentucky Peerless 3-Year will soon hit store shelves. I want to thank Peerless Distillery for providing me a sample for a no-strings-attached review.
As you may know, running a distillery is very expensive and starting a new one requires a lot of start-up capital and sunk costs. Many brands source whiskeys to generate income while waiting for their distillate to mature. There’s nothing wrong with that business plan, so long as the brand is being transparent. Other brands wait it out, not wanting to risk a possibly radical change during the transition from sourced to non-sourced distillate. Peerless opted for the latter.
Peerless has also jumped on the non-chill filtered bandwagon. They also do something a bit less common: they distill using a sweet mash versus a sour mash. If you’re unfamiliar with those terms, sour mash means the distillery saves a portion of the mash from an older batch and uses it to start the fermentation process of a new batch. Sweet mash, on the other hand, means that each batch starts with freshly developed yeast.
Peerless also uses a lower barrel entry proof of 107, with the theory that adding water prior to aging means the water becomes an ingredient instead of adding water after dumping the barrel when proofing it down dilutes the flavor.
Peerless is priced in the super-premium category. That makes the big question, “Is this worth it?” Time to #DrinkCurious to get the answer.
In the glass, this barrel proof Rye is a deep amber. It left a thin rim on the walls of my Glencairn that to a fat, wavy curtain to drop back to the pool.
One of the notable differences between the 24-month and the 3-year is a lack of ethanol punch from the 3-year. An aroma of caramel was initially picked up when my glass was at chin level. Underneath that was a familiar floral rye. Raising the glass to my lips added cinnamon. When lifted to just under my nostrils, semi-sweet fruit, and when I inhaled through my mouth, vanillas and cinnamon rolled over my palate.
The mouthfeel was lighter than I expected. I recalled a young Rye sharpness from the 24-month, and it is amazing how another 12 months in the barrel changed a whiskey. Picking up flavors was easy, and the palate was a complex rollercoaster of dark chocolate, clove, stone fruit, oak, and, finally, back to dark chocolate. It was, however, difficult to determine what hit the front, middle, and back of the palate.
At 109.1°, it definitely tingles the hard palate but there is only a muted burn. The finish was a tandem of dark chocolate and oak that gently warmed the throat.
Bar, Bottle or Bust: I was okay with the 24-month, but believed it was overpriced for what it was, especially since I could pick up a similarly-tasting Willett for a third of the price. Assuming a similar price-point as the 24-month, I’d normally be uncomfortable with paying that amount for a three-year. However, this is downright delicious and I’m enjoying the heck out of it. Peerless Distillery did well here, and I’m already curious what the four-year will bring. If you’re unsettled about paying $110 or so for a three-year Rye, try it at a bar. But, I think you’d come to a similar conclusion when I rate this as a Bottle.