Showing posts with label Four Gate Whiskey Company. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Four Gate Whiskey Company. Show all posts

Monday, March 8, 2021

Four Gate Batch 11 "Ruby Rye Springs" Review & Tasting Notes


Blenders take someone else's spirits, sometimes along with their own distillate, and create something special. Blending whiskey is an art form.  Some Master Blenders in Scotland do amazing things. Here in the United States, there are some good, respected blenders out there. Names like Smooth Ambler, High West, J. Mattingly, Barrell Craft Spirits, and Four Gate Whiskey Company.

I've reviewed Four Gate before. I've been impressed with what they've done with both The Kelvin Collection II and River Kelvin Rye.  When I was presented with an opportunity to review Batch 11, called Ruby Rye Springs, I was very interested. Ruby Rye Springs starts with a seven-year MGP straight Rye whiskey, then finishes it in casks with an unusual heritage.

Initially, the casks held ruby port wine. Once the barrels were dumped, they were filled a second time with a blend of rums and left to age.  Once the rum matured, the barrels were filled with the Indiana Rye, where they rested for 45 days.  The end result, a whiskey weighing in at 113.4°, yielded 1444 750ml bottles. Retail is $185.00.

I'd like to thank Four Gate for sending me a sample in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. Time to #DrinkCurious and learn what this one is all about.

Appearance:  In my Glencairn glass, Ruby Rye Springs presented almost as you'd expect - the color of red mahogany amber.  How it interacted with the glass was novel. It left a thick rim that created a heavy curtain which raced to the pool. Yet, that husky rim never evaporated. It just stuck there.

Nose:  Aromas of cherry, plum, and citrus offered a fruity smell. Mint, rye, and oak provided spice. Molasses seemed to glue them together. When I sucked the vapor into my mouth, mint, plum, and brown sugar ran across my palate.

Palate:  A syrupy mouthfeel featured flavors of brown sugar, plum, black cherry, and raspberry on the front. As it traveled down my tongue, cinnamon and blueberry hit the middle, and on the back, I tasted black pepper, tobacco leaf, and molasses.

Finish: Rye spice, oak, citrus, and plum were embraced by molasses in a medium-long finish.

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Ruby Rye Springs was certainly different. I've had port-finished whiskeys and I've had rum-finished whiskeys, but I've not, until now, had a port/rum-finished whiskey. It was a unique experience, it was quite enjoyable, but no matter how divergent it may be, this is a serious investment. This earns a Bar rating, you'd want to try it before buying it. Cheers!

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

Monday, July 20, 2020

Four Gate Whiskey Company's "River Kelvin Rye" Review & Tasting Notes

At the end of April, I reviewed Four Gate Whiskey Company's The Kelvin Collection II Bourbon.  It was one of the most expensive whiskeys I've reviewed.  I generally don't like reviewing high-dollar whiskeys because, for the most part, I find them good but not great, and certainly not a good return on investment. But, the Kelvin Collection II wrecked that theory for me, and I ponied up my Bottle rating for it. You can read all about Four Gate in that previous review, I won't rehash it.

When Four Gate approached me again, this time for a review of River Kelvin Rye, I admittedly was excited. This one is officially called Batch 7, and it isn't quite as expensive as The Kelvin Collection II, but it is close, ringing in at $174.99.  Don't stop reading because of the price. Do what I do, keep an open mind, and we'll #DrinkCurious shortly.

River Kelvin Rye is a blend of 7-year old barrels from MGP. They're all distilled from a mash of 95% rye and 5% malted barley, the standard MGP rye recipe. It is non-chill filtered and bottled at its cask strength of 113.2°. The 1484 bottles can be purchased in Kentucky, Indiana, or online from Seelbach's. One final bit of information you'll want to know - they're currently finishing some of this batch in Split-Stave™ barrels which will be available this Fall, and another in Ruby Port-Rum casks in 2021.

This is the first Straight Rye released by Four Gate.  

“We’ve always been on the lookout for barrels of great rye,” said Chief Barrel Officer Bob D’Antoni. “We tried all sorts of barrels that weren’t quite up to our standards before we found these.”

Now that all the background is out of the way, let's get to it... and I'd like to thank Four Gate for sending me a sample in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review.

Appearance:  In my Glencairn glass, Batch 7 appeared as a deep caramel-amber. It left absolutely no rim on my glass, each time I tried to form one, it instead came down like a heavy curtain to drop back to the pool.

Nose:  One of my favorite candies these days is candied orange slices. And, that's the first thing I smelled when I brought the glass to my nose. Toasted oak was next, then orange peel. Finally, the aroma of mint.  When I inhaled through my lips, I discovered peppercorn and vanilla.

Palate:  A thin and oily mouthfeel started things off. Flavors of mint and tangelo greeted the front of my palate. As it rolled down mid-palate, there was sweet brown sugar and lemon pepper, forming an interesting combination. Then, on the back, a combination of both smoky and dry oak along with clove.

Finish:  A finish of lemon meringue and black pepper gave a medium-to-long, sweet, and spicy experience. 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  This is a very delicious, tasty rye. While each barrel of any whiskey is unique, there is no mistaking this for anything but MGP barrel-proof rye. It had a lovely nose, a tasty palate, and a beautiful finish. I have no complaints whatsoever about Batch 7 - except that it isn't a $175 whiskey. I've had equally-amazing seven-year-plus MGP barrel-proof ryes for between a third and just under half the price. Because of that, this one earns a Bar rating. You'll want to try this one first before committing to a bottle. 

On a final note, I would be very interested in trying the upcoming barrel-finished releases of this. Either of those could be a game-changer and each would earn its own, independent rating. Cheers! 

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

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Four Gate Whiskey Company's The Kelvin Collaboration II Bourbon Review

When Bourbon or Rye approaches $200, it better be damned good. For that matter, any whiskey at that price better blow my mind. 

Today I'm reviewing The Kelvin Collaboration II from Four Gate Whiskey Company.  Perhaps you're wondering who the heck Four Gate is and what kind of cojones they have to charge $200 for something they've not even distilled themselves. Let's get this out of the way.  Four Gate is a blender. They source great whiskeys from wherever and create something special - or at least, that's the theory.

Blending is an art form.  Yeah, I know, blended whiskeys suck, right? Not all of them, not even close! With regard to American whiskeys, a blend can mean several things. But, I'm betting some of your favorite Bourbons and Ryes are blended. Unless it says, Single Barrel on the label, guess what? Its a blend - a blend of several barrels, a/k/a Small Batch. 

If you've ever done a barrel pick, you know that no two barrels are the same.  You can have the same distillate, distilled on the same day, placed in two identical barrels from the same cooperage, coopered immediately after one another, then placed in the same warehouse, set next to each other on the same rick, aged for the exact same amount of time under the exact same conditions, and they can have amazing variances. 

To get consistency, distilleries blend a bunch of different barrels together. That's a small batch.

But, let's get beyond the small batch. The true Master Blender is an artist with a target in mind, and the puzzle is, How do I get there?  The answer to that is, you take different barrels, different whiskeys, different grains, malts, or whatever, and blend them together to reach your goal. Sure, you could start randomly dumping this into that and hoping for the best - and that's an excellent way to ruin potentially good whiskey. Rather, it is an artistic science. I have a ton of respect for good Master Blenders, no matter what type of whiskey they work with.

Now we come back full-circle to Four Gate, which has been blending since 2018.  Bill Straub and Bob D'Antoni have been working hand-in-hand with the folks at Kelvin Cooperage in Louisville. Bill and Bob are Louisville natives and really know their whiskey. Kelvin, of course, is one of the nation's premiere cooperages with a long, rich heritage going back to Scotland. They definitely comprehend wood. And, all of that requires some decent knowledge of science.

But, we're back to $200 per bottle.  What do you get for two Benjamins?

It starts with 12-year Kentucky Straight Bourbon.  While the distiller is undisclosed, I know it is a mash of 74% corn, 18% rye, and 8% malted barley. It leads me to assume that's 1792 Barton since that's their standard recipe. Four Gate then finishes that Bourbon in ex-Cognac and ex-dark rum casks. The yield is only 2,474 bottles, and it weighs in at a hefty 126.4°. Distribution is limited to Kentucky, Tennessee and online at Seelbach's.

So, is it any good?  The only way to find out for sure is to #DrinkCurious. Before I start, I'd like to thank Four Gate for sending me a sample in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review.

In my trusty Glencairn glass, Batch 6 has the color of a deep, dark, orange-amber. It left an almost microscopic rim that generated thick, speedy legs to drop back to the pool of liquid sunshine.

As I let the Bourbon breathe, aromas of rich, sweet, dark fruit filled the air. Once I brought the glass to my face, there was a definitive coupling of molasses and stone fruit. As I continued to explore, I discovered cinnamon and oak.  When I inhaled through my lips, it was all brown sugar.

The mouthfeel was thick and viscous, giving it a luxurious quality. It wasn't overly warm despite the significant proof. At the front, I experienced sweet molasses and a dominating oak. Then, at mid-palate, it was like I was in an orchard of black grapes and sweet apricots. Before it worked its way to the back, I tasted thick caramel that seemed like it stuck. On the back, it became a rather complex marriage of dark chocolate, old leather, dry oak, clove, and tobacco.

The medium-to-long finish consisted of caramel, dry oak, and clove. It was interesting to encounter all the complicated notes on the back and have them funnel into three precise flavors.  And then, something interesting happened. Remember how I started off saying that despite the proof, it wasn't overwhelming?  Well, it may not have been at first, but my hard palate absolutely tingled by the time I figured things out.  

Bottle, Bar or Bust:  Asking $200 is asking a lot of me. I felt very weird last year, naming a $150 whiskey my Bourbon of the Year, but I did.  When you consider BTAC, Four Roses Small Batch LE, Elijah Craig Barrel Proof, and some other heavy-hitters at much less (at least at retail), that's challenging. However, I believe Four Gate knocked this one out of the park. I really, really enjoyed this pour. I loved the nose, how crazy the palate got, and then how all the loose ends were tied up in the finish. Yeah, it is a lot of money. In this case, I believe it is worth the price and snags my coveted Bottle rating.  Cheers!

My Simple, Easy-to-Understand Rating System:

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