Inspired by a post over a Chuck Chowdery's blog, I roped a few friends into a whiskey tasting this afternoon.
As per Mr. Chowdery's post, the plan was to taste through a selection of whiskies that would let people get a sense of how rye content affects the finished flavors. In picking the whiskies, I tried to keep the age and proofs roughly comparable, though it was somewhat limited by the fact that I wanted to select whiskies already on my shelf. Lastly, I wanted to go with bourbons that I felt like were good values, in case people wanted to buy a bottle of their own.
my last bourbon review, this whiskey has about 8% rye in its mash bill and is thus somewhere in the middle as far as bourbon rye content goes. The BT has a slightly lower proof and was somewhat gentler on that front. I pointed out the chili pepper notes that are associated with rye, though it was a bit tricky to explain the difference between pepper flavors and the chemical burn from the alcohol.
Sazerac 6 Year. I explained how rye whiskey is defined as having at least 51% rye in its mash bill. This is just over the line as a rye whiskey and thus contains a lot of bourbon character while still emphasizing the rye flavors. Though palates may have been a bit worn by this point in the tasting, the Sazerac got the best reception of any of the whiskies. The fact that it manages a good balance between corn sweetness and rye spiciness makes it a great sipper, as well as having a slightly more friendly proof.
All said and done, this tasting went pretty well. I learned a few things about how to lead people through whiskey flavors and also how much more I have to learn about doing so smoothly and in an engaging fashion. Everyone enjoyed themselves and there was a lot of good conversation about the history of whiskey, especially about the effects of Prohibition. I'm really looking forward to getting people together again for another tasting, both because I enjoy sharing what I know and for the good company.