La Crosse Distilling High Rye Light Whiskey Review

Light Whiskey.  If you don't know what Light Whiskey is, it is essentially distilled between 160° and 190°, then aged anywhere from around five seconds (like Pabst's new whiskey) on down to however long in either "used" or new uncharred oak barrels. Light Whiskey has been around for about as long as I've been alive - I'm an old fart. But, Light Whiskey isn't all that common. It was essentially created to compete with vodka, gin, and other "light" spirits back when Bourbon was starting to lose its appeal.

I've had Light Whiskeys before. They're certainly different from anything else I've had. But, I've never taken the time to review one. That's now changed with La Crosse Distilling's High Rye Light Whiskey. As the name suggests, it is made with a high-rye mash, which is also blended with wheat. The mash comes from local farmers in La Crosse, Wisconsin and then distilled in-house. Everything at La Crosse Distilling is 100% certified organic, their facility is powered by geothermal energy, and they've been open since September 2018.

The label suggests this Light Whiskey is aged "at least one day" and the website confirms it is "kissed" by White American Oak for a single day. It is bottled at 90° and the suggested retail is $29.99.

I'd like to thank La Crosse Distilling for providing me a sample for a no-strings-attached, honest review.

La Crosse Distilling recommends using this whiskey in a cocktail or by adding a few drops of water. For the purposes of my review, I'll try it both neat and with a few drops of distilled water. Time to #DrinkCurious.

In the glass, the appearance was like a Pinot Grigio. As you'd imagine, it was very light in color. It left a thinner rim on my Glencairn but generated a fat, wavy curtain that dropped back to the pool.

The nose was very much like newmake. Again, that's expected from something that is technically aged. The rye really shined through. Beneath the rye, I picked up buttered popcorn. Inhaling through my lips brought a sweet moonshine flavor. Two drops of distilled water enhanced the buttered popcorn aroma.

Sipping this neat, the mouthfeel was just like drinking a glass of water, with the same viscosity and weight. I expected it to be softer and was pleasantly surprised. There was a definitive rye spice, but the wheat mellowed it and took down all the anticipated sharpness. With the additional water, the mouth thickened.  The spiciness diminished but yielded floral notes.

Neat, the finish was long but delicate. As it built, I was able to pick up that "kiss" of oak. When it subsided, there was no burn whatsoever. This was obviously proofed correctly. With the added water, the oak exploded. When the oak dropped off, the finish became peppery and kept building, giving it a longer finish versus the neat pour.

Bottle, Bar or Bust:   I said at the start of this review that I've had Light Whiskeys before and haven't reviewed them. Part of the reason was that I'd never buy one on my own. I haven't enjoyed Light Whiskeys. Saying all of that I found La Crosse High Rye Light Whiskey to be a much different experience. This one hovers somewhere between a Bottle and Bar.  I could see sipping this on a hot summer's day, maybe after mowing my lawn while hanging out on the deck and watching the sunset (even if my deck faces east instead of west). I honestly would not select this as an everyday pour, I personally like a "heavier" whiskey. However, this one surprised me and is very good for what it is - a Light Whiskey.

On a side note, while the bottle suggests adding water, I enjoyed this one better neat.  I'm excited to see what the future holds for La Crosse Distilling.