The roots of this piece oddly enough were planted on Speyside and
particularly during the Spirit of Speyside Festival where theTormore4 were
invited along to a rather splendid meal at the Dowan’s Hotel in Aberlour. In
this luxurious setting, it was very much an informal affair with the organisers
keen to meet enthusiasts who had travelled from far and wide to experience
their festival. Across the table I met several interesting enthusiasts during
the course of the evening whilst leaving Mark to his Waterford persona.
One such fellow is Andrew, who seemingly as a modest chap,
named his site Andrew’s Share. Aware of our little group and its infamous
nature, Andrew seemed pleased to meet the evil mastermind behind this place
you’re visiting now. I’m always surprised when someone passes comment on Whisky
Rover and even more so when they make positive comments. I view this site as
more of my soapbox, or personal exorcism and at all times informative but with
a hint of fun. Whisky can become far too serious all too quickly and we all
need to relax a little. Yes, you may not want to throw bottles of Jura against
a wall or smash a bottle of Highland Park Valkyrie, but it works for me.
The mixture of personalities worked well and our end of the
table was discussing everything from photography and gin to the general state
of affairs in whisky. Interesting viewpoints were set out and everyone had
strong foundations. You may not agree with everyone all of the time, but it’s
important to listen and appreciate where they are coming from. During the
conversation we switched onto the subject of rye whiskey, which is something I
do enjoy but rarely have the opportunity nowadays to sit down with.
Andrew it seems is a fan of the Dad’s Hat Rye (it’s
important to use spaces) and has been fortunate enough to have visited the
distillery a couple of times. Intrigued by the name and fondness displayed, our
conversation about all things rye resulted in Andrew sending up some samples
from this Pennsylvania distillery. This is a region of America that never
really recovered from the onslaught of Prohibition and the art of Pennsylvanian
rye was almost lost until the founder of Dad’s Hat, Herman Mihalich, was
inspired by tales from the older generations. With rye whisky remerging from
the wilderness in the early 2000’s, the distillery was founded in Bristol,
Bucks County in 2011.
Dad’s Hat Straight Rye
Bottled in Bond, 4-year-old, 50% ABV
Nose: it’s the spices at first that come at you and then a
sense of cola which makes sense with vanilla and cinnamon. Yet there’s more here
with all-spice, pepper and a nuttiness. Caramel, honey and a little beeswax.
Water unleashed a charred bark quality with treacle and toffee.
Taste: initially more of that honeyed vanilla then a sudden
lapse that revives towards a long caramel resin finish. Water reveals the
redness of cranberries and a buttery quality.
Overall: a solid rye opener with an engaging nose that shows
more limitation on the palate, but I’d be happy sitting down with this
especially as its just 4 years old.
Dad’s Hat Maple Finish
Distillery exclusive bottled at 45% ABV. They send casks to Grinarmls Maple Syrup company, who age their produce in these Dad's Hat casks. The casks are returned and for an experiment, one was filled with rye whiskey for 4.5 months creating this one-off exclusive.
Colour: a rich decadent honeycomb
Nose: there’s a sugary sweetness alongside the familiar
tones of vanilla and wood shavings. It almost drifts into orange liqueur for a
moment but is buffered by brown sugar and toffee apples. The spicing is
delicate compared to the straight rye with sweet cinnamon and cardamom.
Taste: well, you can certainly appreciate the influence the
maple cask has had here as it’s a real sweetie. I’m clutching at all my sugary
influences tablet, caramel, maple syrup, honey and throwing these into a warm
pot to melt and combine before dunking vanilla marshmallows into this sticky
brew. Beyond there’s more orange and a touch of bitterness from the wood
leading us into a gentle milk chocolate finish.
Overall: all this food pairing with whisky nowadays, this is
certainly one you could have a great deal of fun matching with a desert course.
It is a little on the sweet spectrum for my liking and I couldn’t drink too
much of this in one sitting, but it’s an experience and one that validates the
Dad's Hat Straight Rye 2016
A 3-year-old rye whiskey bottled at 47.5% ABV
Colour: dull gold
Nose: an inviting opening with cracked walnuts, vanilla
cream and a sticky apricot jam. A rich fudge adds more sweetness that moves
into cinnamon, barley sweets and a touch of mushroom.
Taste: an evident sweetness, but not on the same scale as
the maple bottling. There’s a bitterness that highlights dark chocolate and
coffee before the resin takes hold and leads us into more vanilla nougat. The interplay
of the spices is subtle with more pepper, cinnamon bark and a touch of ginger
before Hob Nob biscuits take over.
Overall: this is perfectly pleasant, agreeable and in
retrospect a welcome balance between the extremes this rye voyage has shown us.
In summary, these are all young rye style whiskies, but full of character and presence. Water is recommended as is a sense of exploration. The maple was a little too extreme but I'm happy to have experienced it, whereas the others are on more traditional footing and very agreeable dramming material.
Labels: Dad's Hat, featured, rye, whiskey