Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Steak of Whiskies: Wild Turkey Kentucky Straight Rye Whisky

While being stuck in flooded Queensland over the Christmas to New Year period I thought this is prime opportunity to get another Dramcember tasting while I wait for the roads to open again.

Single Malt Whisky in Rockhampton is a bit hard to come by and where you can find it, it is limited to only a couple of the regulars. This of course also goes for Bourbon but I did manage to find the Wild Turkey 101 Straight Rye Whisky next to a loan bottle of Jim Beam Single Barrel Small Batch.

My Bourbon tastes are becoming more and more broad and so my interests in the Rye Whiskies starting to appear in the Aussie market are tantalising my tastes buds. In comparison the only other Rye I have had was in limited quantity and was the Jim Beam Straight Rye 80 Proof and found it to be dull to say the least.

So before a review you may be asking what makes a Rye Whisky? According to Jim Murray's Whisky Bible and also other references via the internet Rye Whisky used to be the whisky of choice prior to prohibition in the United States. Following WW2 Rye fell out of favour for the more sweeter bourbon cousin. For a whisky to be classed as a Rye it must contain at least 51% mashed rye where as a Bourbon requires there to be at least 51% corn. Of course either can then contain a variations of other grains to make up the remaining 49%.

Rye is a cereal grain and closely related to wheat and barley. It is used from feeding livestock to making breads to making whisky and has been used in a domestic sense since the Neolithic age. I do have to say I have really only encountered rye in breads and have never been drawn to experiment with it in cooking (though now I shall).

Wild Turkey Kentucky Straight Rye Whisky
101 Proof / 50.5% Alcohol

The nose has a light anise type sense and spices. It takes a while to find it but for those wondering what anise smells like think of liquorice or Galliano Liqueur (but not as intense).

To taste I immediately get a dryness bitterness and sharp pepper like spiciness. A hell of a lot of tingles and heaps of meaty body almost chewy in texture. Somehow this intensity is very appealing even without the sweetness found in bourbons.

Finish is somewhat short in the chest and reaches right back up into the top of the throat.

Balance is certainly there though for many the sharpness may put you off to begin with. The 101 proof really ensures body and texture.

So is it "The Steak of Whiskies"? Big call I know but this really is a meaty whisky and I have to say goes exceptionally well with a grass fed rump steak cooked medium rare with some Holbrooks Worcestershire Sauce. If I was to give a dram then I would have to give it a 6 out of 7.

Get out there and try it.

The Uber Baron