At the 2016 Irish Whiskey Awards Brian Nation – then Master Distiller for Midleton – announced rye had been planted in County Wexford to be used for whiskey distillation.
This gave me great cheers as rye historically was an integral ingredient in the mash-bill of Irish Whiskey.
Conveniently at that event a bottle of Ransom The Emerald – an American made whiskey using a mixed mash-bill based on an Irish Whiskey recipe containing rye – did the rounds.
What a delight it was to taste!
A few years ago the only rye influence available in Irish Whiskey came from the use of ex-rye casks.
PrizeFight Whiskey were one of the first & used this method to great effect.
Other Irish Whiskey like the wonderful Bart’s from Lough Ree, Foxes Bow & Blackwater’s Velvet Cap followed & all benefited – to my palate at least – from the additional flavour profile rye brings to the mix.
It’s only in the last year or so actual rye grain has made the mash-bill of a couple of Irish Whiskey.
Shortcross Rye & Malt I instantly fell in love with – while the charms of Method & Madness Rye And Malt weren’t as immediate.
Powers Rye takes this flavoursome grain to a new level.
Using only Irish grown grain in a 100% rye mash-bill – this instantly poses the question if enzymes were used to kickstart fermentation?
Even in the US a small amount of malted barley provides this catalyst as shown by the readily available 95/5 mix of Bulleit Rye.
Such questions however play second fiddle to my primary objective – how does Powers Rye taste?
Well the nose displays that classic signature peppery spice of rye whiskey.
There’s a richness & warmth encountered on the palate which pleased me.
Perhaps being freed from the American rule of using virgin casks for maturation has allowed a juiciness from ex-bourbon casks to balance the dryness of many a rye.
Different cask maturation is a common feature in European Rye I’ve enjoyed.
The gorgeous French Roof Rye certainly enticed me – while Wild Fields from Poland & Stork Rye from Germany also offered different interpretations of rye whiskey worth trying.
Meanwhile Powers Irish Rye’s finish provided more of those lovely spices & while there was a dry element – it was balanced by a nuanced juiciness & warm feeling.
I thoroughly welcome the increased diversity Powers Rye brings to the Irish Whiskey category.
It opens up a new layer of flavour & style which has sadly been lost to the industry for about a century.
Back in 1908 the esteemed Mr A Jameson stated at The Royal Commission Into Whisky that rye was a common ingredient in Irish Whiskey,
‘but rye is very a difficult thing to buy nowadays grown in Ireland’.
Thankfully that is no longer the case.
Welcome back Irish Rye!
By pressing on the green coloured type you will be directed to my blogs on the whiskey highlighted.
Difficulties of using rye in distillation here.
I picked my Powers Rye up in O’Brien’s here.