Monday, May 11, 2020

Belfour Rye Whiskey Review & Tasting Notes

These days, it seems like every celebrity has his or her own distilled spirit. Whether they are recording artists, actors, or athletes, the name attached to the spirit is meant to convey quality or exclusivity. And, they almost always command a celebrity price tag.

Today I'm reviewing Belfour Spirits Rye Whiskey. If you're a hockey fan, you know who Ed Belfour is. He is "Eddie the Eagle," the NHL Hall of Famer and one of only two players who has won the trifecta:  The Stanley Cup, The NCAA Championship and an Olympic Gold Medal. Well, these days Belfour is the President and CEO of Belfour Spirits in Dallas, Texas.

If you peruse its website, you can view a brief backstory that starts with Grandma and Granpa Belfour who were 1930s moonshiners in Saskatchewan, Canada. I have no idea if it is true or not, but I'll take it at face value. Ed purchased his first still in 2014, and his son, Dayn, learned distilling at Woody Creek Distillers in Basalt, Colorado. Ed is described as an active CEO and is involved, amongst other things, selecting the barrels. 

Belfour Springs rents distilling time and space from Southern Distilling in Statesville, North Carolina. The Rye is from a mash of 70% rye, 20% corn and 10% malted barley. It is aged for at least 18 months in new, charred oak and bottled at 94°. Speaking of the bottle, it is absolutely gorgeous. It reminds me a lot of the IW Harper 15 bottle. It is something you'd want to keep as a decorative decanter when the whiskey is gone.

Distribution is currently limited to Texas and Illinois. The plan is to release six additional states (as well as Canada) each year.

As stated earlier, one of the things that celebrity spirits all seem to have in common is a celebrity price tag.  Belfour Rye is no different. A 750ml will run about $89.00. That's very steep for an 18-month whiskey. The big question becomes, does it light the lamp? The only way to know for sure is to face off and #DrinkCurious.

In my Glencairn glass, Belfour Rye presented as a rich, caramel color. It created a thin rim that led to slow, very fat droplets. Those droplets just stuck to the wall and didn't really drop back down.

A mix of sawdust and molasses greeted my nose. That was followed by floral rye. Finally, I found mint and fresh coffee. When I inhaled through my lips, I tasted bread. It was even thick and chewy, something very strange as a flavor but that's about the best descriptor that made sense.

The mouthfeel was thick and creamy. The more I sipped, the thicker and heavier it became. On the front of the palate, the sole note was cocoa. At mid-palate, it became a blend of cereal and caramel. Then, on the back, I tasted rye spice and mocha. There wasn't a lot going on.

Perhaps the most complex part of this whiskey was the finish. It was long, building, and warming. Oak was the first thing picked up. A blast of black pepper followed. Then, the spiciness of ginger came into play. And, once I thought everything was done and over with, coffee muted with a bit of creamer.

Bottle, Bar or Bust:  Belfour Rye is easy to sip and there is no body-checking of the palate. It has an interesting finish. But, I'm hung up on the $89 price tag. I've tasted many, many whiskeys presenting similar quality for half the price (or even less).  Granted, none of them have as beautiful a package as Belfour Rye, but that's not something I consider when selecting a whiskey.

Rating this as a Bust would be unfair despite the hefty expense. This isn't a bender by any means.  Belfour Rye would be much more interesting with a few years added to it to bring out more flavor. Conversely, it could be more complex at, say, 100° instead of 94°. Regardless, there is potential here.

If you're a big sports fan, I could picture a strong desire to grab a bottle, especially as a first release. I'm going to rate this a Bar, which is exactly where I think you should try this before seriously considering a purchase.  Cheers!

My Simple, Easy-to-Understand Rating System:

  • Bottle = Buy it
  • Bar = Try it first
  • Bust = Leave it 

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As we should drink in moderation, all comments are subject to it. Cheers!