13th Colony Southern Rye
13th Colony Southern Rye Whiskey
Bottle No. 2281, Batch No. 2014
I am going rogue here and reviewing a whiskey that is not from Kentucky, so if you aren’t into that sort of thing you better get outta here right now! I am proud to say that I am originally from Georgia and lived there for over 20 years, so I was excited to try what 13th Colony Distilleries in the little town of Americus, Georgia had to offer. They advertise themselves as a small, craft distillery, and from what I can tell, they are actually that. Now, I can’t verify that they are actually distilling all the grain that goes into the products they are selling, maybe they are buying some from MGP or who knows where…it’s hard to believe they are distilling their own rye especially when they say they use local grains…not sure how much rye is growing in Georgia, WHO KNOWS. I could go on forever about honesty in marketing and labeling and how the whiskey industry is just as bad about this as any of the giant food or soft drink companies that sell us an idea rather than tell the truth about their product. But maybe we should just talk about if this whiskey is any good or not.
This is a two year Rye, which is pretty young, but they’ve taken a short cut and aged it not only in American White Oak Barrels (the norm), but also added French Oak Spirals into the barrel, basically creating a lot of surface area of oak for the juice to hang out with. It’s kind of cheating, but in this case it worked out pretty well for all of us. I like that they are up front with this info and aren’t trying to avoid talking about the true age of their product. This is a 96% rye, 4% barley mash, and I am happy to tell you it is a bold, funky, pretty awesome drink. Sniffing it right away I’m getting some pretty unique smells that I’ve never gotten in other ryes or bourbons–unscented hand lotion, melted candle wax, and a freshly opened pack of construction paper (I know I’m getting a little out there, but bear with me I’m just riffing and being honest!) are the crazier ones that stand out. It’s off-putting at first, but then I’m interested again and go deeper. Ah, there’s my rye, caraway seed, and vanilla. It sounds weird but as funky as it is I love smelling this, repeatedly. I take a sip and I think. Yum. I love how ryes are often really spicy up front but then have such a strong sweet balance after a second or two. This rye does just that. Medium bodied, the oak comes through much more on the palate, plus I’m getting a good balance of peppery rye, vanilla, caramel, and an almost Earl Gray/Bergamot thing at the end. Finish is medium-long, dry, and spicy.
This was a pleasant surprise. I am still pretty skeptical of micro-distilleries since I haven’t had the greatest experiences with the new movement of “craft” whiskey, but I have to hand it to 13th Colony–you guys are doing it right. Thank you for a weird and funky drink that I will definitely buy again.
Rating: 8.6 / 10
Received as a gift, but goes in stores for $30-$40…
It should be noted that I am drinking an older bottle of this–I’ve had it for months, and it looks like they changed the label completely since I got this, but I assume the product is the same.