Monday, December 7, 2020

Limousin Rye Cask Strength Review & Tasting Notes


I've been paying attention to Dancing Goat Distillery since its inception.  It is located only a few miles from my house, and I was there just before it opened. I may have been the first whiskey writer to tour the campus. My friend, Travis Hasse, was the first president of the organization. He's no longer with Dancing Goat, but that didn't end my interest in what they have done.

Recently, Dancing Goat purchased the now-defunct Death's Door Spirits. They took all of the usable equipment and relocated it from Death's Door in Middleton to the Dancing Goat Distillery. One thing Dancing Goat has always had since Day One is its Solera system for its flagship whiskey, Limousin Rye.  If you're unfamiliar with a Solera system, it started off long ago as a way to age sherry, and a handful of distilleries have adopted it for whiskey. Essentially, a pyramid of barrels that are interconnected has a constant run of spirits running through them. The upper tiers of the pyramid hold younger whiskey, the lower tiers have the older. The barrels are never emptied, there is a constant flow of new whiskey leading to old, allowing a blending of the whiskeys, which leads to depth and makes each batch just a bit different from the last.

That's been the story at Dancing Goat for the last few years. But, in November, Dancing Goat released its first-ever Cask Strength Limousin Rye. Not only is this the first barrel-proof offering, but it is also its oldest.  Prior versions started off with no age statement, then moved to three years, then of five, and now, the Cask Strength carries a six-year statement.

The Cask Strength is distilled from a mash of 95% rye and 5% malted barley. This is something that has steadily changed over the years. When they first started, they were buying stock from MGP. I do know that master distiller Chris Byles had been toying with the idea of either 95% or 100%, and going forward, every release will be 95% rye. The Limousin part of the name doesn't refer to a fancy car, rather, it is the type of wood used on the Solera system:  Limousin French Oak.  You can expect to pay about $60.00 for a 750ml bottle, and the initial release is 117°.

Before I get to the #DrinkCurious part and penning my tasting notes and rating, I'd like to thank Dancing Goat for providing me a sample of its Cask Strength release in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review.  

Appearance:  In my Glencairn glass, this incarnation of Limousin Rye appeared as bronze in color. It created a rim of medium-thickness, which fabricated legs of equal weight, but that dropped quickly back into the pool of whiskey.

Nose:  This Rye was fragrant right out of the bottle. Usually, I can snap a photo without smelling anything. That wasn't the case here. Instead, a floral bouquet punched me in the nose from several feet away. Interestingly enough, when I brought the glass to my face, the floral notes were muted. Aromas of caramel, mint, oak, rye bread, cherry, and cinnamon were easy to pick out. When I inhaled through my lips, oak and spearmint caressed my tongue.

Palate:  I found the mouthfeel to be about as oily as I've come across. The first flavors I tasted were caramel, French oak, and orange zest. As it worked its way back, cinnamon, cherry, cocoa, and cola tagged the middle. Then, on the back, it was very spicy with black pepper, clove, barrel char, and mint.

Finish:  The finish was long and warming. Scratch that, long doesn't really describe it well. It went on for eons. Mint and dry oak were at the beginning, then there was fresh rye bread that I could almost chew. Behind that was black pepper, and it finally concluded with Mr. Pibb. 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Before I give my rating, there are a few things to discuss.  This doesn't drink at its proof, at least not initially. Instead, it is a sneaky bastard. You feel the proof after you've had several sips and your hard palate is sizzling while your brain isn't. I've tried the newmake right out of the still, but I've never had the finished product at barrel proof until now.  The nose was very complex, the palate was enjoyable as it went from sweet to spicy back to sweet and back to spicy. The finish lingered for what seemed to be forever. When you consider the value statement - six years at barrel proof at a cost of $60.00, this one becomes a no-brainer Bottle rating. Buy it, you won't be disappointed. Cheers!

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

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