If there’s one thing I can always count on, it’s that my brother will buy me a bottle of booze for Christmas. If ever I asked him not to give me one, he’d probably assume it was some kind of test and do it anyway. (That’s why I love him.)
Thankfully he’s got good taste. And he usually manages to get me a spirit I’ve never heard of and can’t wait to try.
This year was no exception.
Palm Ridge Rye whiskey is made by a Central Florida outfit that epitomizes the term “microdistillery.” Dick and Marti Waters run Florida Farm Distillers on a cattle farm in Umatilla, Florida. Using a 60-gallon still in their barn, they produce 500 cases of bourbon, rye, and a clear whiskey.
Everything is done on site – fermentation, distillation, barreling, bottling. And presumably, lots of drinking.
Palm Ridge Rye is a 100-proof whiskey with a dark, coppery hue. It’s a young rye, aged less than a year in American oak barrels.
On the Nose
The aroma jumped out at me as soon as I started pouring. A big wave of vanilla and a touch of smoke.
On the Palate
Rye is usually known for its spicy notes, but I don’t get a lot of that in the Palm Ridge product. It’s sweeter than I’d expect of a rye, with prominent notes of dried fruit along with vanilla, toffee, and butterscotch.
Despite a brief aging cycle and a fairly high ABV, I found the rye surprisingly smooth and best consumed neat. I tried it with splash of water and on the rocks, but didn’t notice any dramatic change in flavor.
My go-to cocktail when I’m trying out a new whiskey is the Old Fashioned. With just a touch of citrus, sweetness, and bitters, it’s a simple drink that truly allows the whiskey to shine.
This one didn’t shine.
I don’t know what happened, but the added ingredients seemed to bring out all the wrong notes. It was drinkable but unusual, with the fruitier flavors coming aggressively to the fore. I’ll tweak the measurements if I try it again.
I had better luck with a Whiskey Sour. I used an egg white, which tempered some of the bolder flavors and made for a more balanced drink.
That experience makes me think that that this rye would work especially well in an eggnog, as it’s strong enough to cut through heavier ingredients like milk and cream. If I have any left in December, I’ll give it a whirl.
Palm Ridge Rye is an excellent whiskey with an unusual flavor profile. I haven’t yet found the best way to deploy it in a cocktail, but it may be that the rye is best appreciated on its own.
And that’s fine with me.
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