Monday, August 31, 2020

The Senator Barrel Proof Rye Review & Tasting Notes


It is funny how things change in a short period of time. Not too long ago, if you said you had MGP whiskey (be it Bourbon or Rye), people would roll their eyes and yawn. But, in the last year or so, suddenly MGP is the golden child. Everyone wants it. Everyone needs it. And, everyone is willing to pay top dollar for it.  That's market hype for you.


I'm not suggesting MGP isn't good. In fact, the opposite is true. Before MGP was popular, I was impressed by it. Call me an early adopter, if you will. I'm glad to see how much respect MGP has these days. I'm not so keen on some of the prices that are being charged, but whatever. MGP makes some very good whiskeys and, like anyone else, they have mediocre barrels. So, you can't hang your hat on something that is MGP distillate.


Enter, Stage Right, an MGP-sourced barrel-proof Rye called The Senator. The Senator is brought to you by Proof & Wood Ventures of Bardstown, Kentucky. I've reviewed whiskeys out of Proof & Wood before. They're barrel pickers and blenders.  Headed by Dave Schmier, who founded Redemption Whiskey, they choose what they deem to be the "best" of what a distillery has to offer and from there, they do their magic.


The Senator is a Straight Rye aged-stated at six years. That means the youngest whiskey is that age. As this is not single barrel Rye, it is possible to have older whiskeys in the batch. The Senator is a limited-edition release that states on the label when it was distilled (in this case, 2013) and when it was bottled (in this case, Fall of 2019). Since I said this was barrel-proof, it happens to weigh in at 116°.  The lowest retail price I found online was $69.99. Finally, since it is straight, that means there are no additives aside from water to adulterate the whiskey.  It also comes in a wax-sealed top, so that must mean it is awesome, right?


I'd like to thank Proof & Wood Ventures for providing me with a sample of The Senator in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. With that being said, it is time to #DrinkCurious.


Appearance:  In my Glencairn glass, The Senator introduces itself as a bright copper. Frankly, I was expecting something deeper in color, especially as a barrel-proof Rye. But, whatever. It left a thin rim on the wall, yet, that thin rim created a thick, wavy curtain to drop back to the pool of liquid sunshine.


Nose:  Things started off very floral. That was soon joined by caramel and oak. As I continued to explore, I discovered cinnamon, nutmeg, and mint.  When I inhaled through my mouth, a blend of thick caramel and rye spice tangoed across my tongue. 


Palate:  The mouthfeel was thin, yet bold. I know that sounds weird. Cinnamon and dry wood took demanded time on the front of my palate. Then, oak and char interrupted at mid-palate. Candied orange slices spoke up, too.  On the back, I tasted clove and mint.


Finish:   Closing arguments were long and dry (but not boring). Leather and tobacco leaf came out of nowhere, and the clove from the back kept things interesting. 


Because I was in an overly-curious mood, I decided to add two drops of water to my glass to see what would happen.


Nose:  You know Emeril Lagasse? You know how he'd say, BAM! at anything he wanted to get you to pay attention to?  Well, caramel went BAM!  Cinnamon and sweet cream provided some support, and the slightest hint of orange zest made itself known for good measure. When I inhaled through my mouth, all I could find was that caramel.


Mouth:  The light body remained, but any semblance of boldness was completely sequestered. At the front, I tasted musty oak and cinnamon. Mid-palate was dry oak and barrel char. On the back, the only thing I picked out was clove.


Finish:  Despite the added water, that long, dry finish remained It consisted of clove, rye spice, and tobacco leaf.


I am pretty Type-A when it comes to adding water. I use an eye-dropper. I need to be exact because I want to give everything a fair chance on equal ground. I absolutely preferred this neat.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Forget the water-added version.  The neat pour was flavorful, spicy, and sweet in all the right places. Granted, it allowed for some numbing of my hard palate, but that didn't stop me from discerning flavors. At $80.00, this is probably at the upper-echelon of what I'd pay for it and still be a happy camper. I wouldn't go more than that, though. So, for $80.00, this one takes my coveted Bottle rating. For anything higher, you'll want to try it at a Bar before committing to a bottle. Cheers!


My Simple, Easy-to-Understand Rating System
  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try It
  • Bust = Leave It

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