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Rye Gets a Vermouth Finish

Jack Bettridge
Posted: October 4, 2013

(continued from page 1)

The two partners are also cigar lovers, who convene outside the distillery every Friday afternoon when weather permits for smokes in lawn chairs with their whiskey neat or on the rocks. While the vermouth-finish rye sounds as though it would be perfect for a Manhattan, Mihalich counsels against that as overkill. Instead, he recommends using it in an Old-Fashioned or taking it over ice with a twist of lemon.

We, however, could not resist the temptation.

Dad's Hat Pennsylvania Rye Whiskey, Finished in Vermouth Barrels (94 proof, or 47 percent alcohol by volume; aged six months in charred, new-oak barrels, three months in sweet vermouth casks; $49.99 for a 750 milliliter bottle)

APPEARANCE: Deep copper color with a magenta cast. Medium speed, thin legs.

NOSE: No surprise, sweet fruit on the nose on first blush. Afterward comes a rush of spicy notes that are by turns reminiscent of rye's own spiciness and licorice, Christmas flavors and even mint. But there's also a distinct round, warming sensation.

PALATE: Much drier on the palate than on the nose, but even as the sweetness falls off a bit, the warmth and heartiness remains. It spreads out in the mouth with a host of complex herbs and spices: licorice, pepper, tarragon, mint, and basil.

FINISH: Lasts quite long for a whiskey of such young age. Some of the fruit returns as it fades out with a hard candy sweetness of tart orange and cherry.

IN A MANHATTAN: We mixed four separate cocktails with different vermouths, all with a two-to-one whiskey-to-vermouth ratio in conjunction with Fee Brothers Whiskey-Barrel-Aged Bitters, and have to respectfully disagree with Mr. Mihalich's assessment. In the main, this whiskey makes a great Manhattan.

WITH MARTINI & ROSSI EXTRA DRY VERMOUTH: The spices on the whiskey just lit up under the influence of this white vermouth. The aperitif also became more of a player than merely background scenery as so often happens with Dry Manhattans.

WITH NOILY PRATT AMBRE: This was the one clinker in the bunch. The Ambre was far too sweet for the whiskey and the whole thing became rather cloying.

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