Spirits Guy Bill Mayeroff returns! Check this particular combo out in his latest review.
Rye whiskey is an old school drink. According to Serious Eats, it was first brewed in colonial America in what became the eastern United States. George Washington even made rye at his Mount Vernon estate. [Editor’s Note: Not sure if there was a Mr. Katz in the White House and whether he was the one who brought the rock candy.]
These days, it doesn’t seem like we think about rye much. Sure, bars may have a bottle or two of Templeton’s on the shelf, but that’s about it. And we don’t drink it even if it’s there. Well, most don’t. I usually have a bottle of rye at home, but even I don’t drink it often.
So when I got a press release from the Brooklyn-based New York Distilling Company saying they had created a rock-and-rye – a mix of rye whiskey and rock candy sugar – I had to ask if they’d send me a bottle to review. I never thought for a second they’d do it, but lo and behold, a couple weeks later, a bottle appeared on my doorstep.
DISCLAIMER: I did not pay for the bottle of rock-and-rye I am about to review.
Mr. Katz Rock and Rye Review
Though I’d had rye whiskey before, I’d never had rock-and-rye before trying Mr. Katz’s Rock and Rye. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I mean, come on. Rye whiskey with rock candy sugar? I don’t know. I’m not a fan of sweet booze. So I was worried that it would be too sweet.
Turns out I had nothing to worry about.
The first thing that I noticed about it was the gorgeous caramel color. It’s deeper and richer than most ryes; very pleasant to look at. Opening the bottle and pouring a bit into a rocks glass, you get a strong smell of alcohol and spice. It’s almost overwhelming. Almost.
Take a sip and you get a sugary sweetness that lingers on the tongue. It’s sweet, but not cloying. The alcohol scent and cinnamon spiciness cuts through and tempers the sweetness just enough. It goes down smooth with a slight burn at first, but as you drink more, that burn evens out into a very pleasant warmth in your throat and esophagus. It’s a good winter sipper when consumed straight, though it would do well in cocktails over ice no matter what time of year you drink it.
The description on the bottle says the spirit contains hints of citrus, sour cherry and cinnamon. You can definitely taste the cinnamon, but I didn’t notice any citrus and only a very slight cherry scent.
The biggest problem with Mr. Katz’s Rock and Rye? You can’t get it in Chicago. At least it doesn’t seem like it. The New York Distilling website lists shops in New York where you can get it and a few of them will even take online orders. But shipping booze across state lines is a legal mess and not many shops will do it.
The moral of this story is this: Get yourself some Mr. Katz’s Rock and Rye if you can. And if you do, tell me where you got it.