Whiskey Name: St George 2yo (That Boutique-y Rye Company)
Distillery: St George
Whiskey Type: Rye
Release Date: 2017
Price: £55 (For 50cl)
Age: 2 years old
Mashbill: Unspecified. But I have my hunches...(see below!)
Introduction/Background: Another bottling from Boutique-y, this time from California’s celebrated St George distillery. A craft distillery before the term was even coined, St George have distilled just about everything it’s possible to distil. From single malt to shochu, and from absinthe to today’s rye. Their website even talks about having fed oysters and a Christmas tree into their still. Well, whatever works...
Basically, St George was founded by people who were simply interested in exploring the spirit world, but without a Ouija board or a medium. Whisk(e)y only makes up a tiny portion of their range; they just happen to be very good at it. They’ve an annual single malt release that usually flies, and their “Baller” whiskey is a weird and very wonderful thing.
I’ve not tried a rye of theirs before though, except in the form of their rather excellent rye gin. They don’t offer a rye whiskey on the St George’s website, so when tracking down a mashbill, I met with something of a dead end. A squint at the gin shows that they make that with 100% rye though; I don’t think it’s unreasonable to wonder whether they did the same with this Boutique-y Whiskey.
Part of a run of 400 bottles; mine is number 127. Let’s dig a little deeper.
Appearance: Dark for the age. Deep burned orange.
Nose: Intense nose, full of big upfront spices. Pepper, certainly, but there’s a meatiness and smoky herbal quality that comes across as a BBQ rub. There’s also something lightly reminiscent of the school medicine cabinet! Some sweet orange, alongside a touch of the vaguely vegetal. Tomato, but not fresh tomato; more along the lines of cooked passata. (Wondering whether I was going slightly mad, I had a look afterwards, and the MoM tasting note suggests someone called Sam thinks along similar lines. Fine fellow, Sam.) Booze is prominent, but not unduly so. More than enough aroma to keep it in check.
Mouth: Goes in a more classic rye direction on the palate. Absolute lashings of distinct (and lingering) spearmint, to an almost chewing-gum esque degree. Dill, cracked black pepper, and a touch more of that medicine cabinet thing, overlaid by orange juice, caramel and muscovado. Very full bodied for a rye; nicely plump viscosity for the spices to skewer their way through.
Finish: Pine emerges, and hangs around as the other flavours diminuendo. A touch shorter than expected, given the intensity of initial flavours, but still a long way off being “short”.
Value for Money: Pretty much exactly what I said about the boutique-y F.E.W bottling. I reckon this one has a slightly broader appeal though, so on balance I’d say the price is definitely right.
Summary: I’m definitely verging on broken record territory where Boutique-y is concerned, but this is another absolute winner. I tasted it next to five other very different ryes, and this one was comfortably my favourite.
From the colour I’d expected it to be a case of tiny casks, featuring flavours of oak, oak and more oak, but what’s impressive is the robustness and character of the rye spirit itself. For me it hit all the “classic” notes one expects to find on a rye, and added a selection of its own; aromas and flavours I’ve never encountered on a whisk(e)y before. And they were all delicious. Can’t ask for much more than that, really.
St George is probably the distillery I’d most like to visit in the world, and I’ve made a note-to-self to try as many more of their spirits as I can. If Boutique-y bottle another batch, I’ll be first in line. And not just because I’m in danger of making my way through this one far too quickly.
Overall Verdict: No rye lover should go without experiencing this. There are Drinks by the Dram samples, so you can try before you buy, but I’m pretty confident most will want to follow that up with a full bottle.
Words By WhiskyPilgrim