Although I was flummoxed by the Jim Murray #1 whiskey of the year, I decided not to be deterred and go on to try the number two. Spoiler alert: I’m glad I did.
Just a little background… This is a Heaven Hill product, with a reported mash bill of 51% rye / 39% corn / 10% malted barley. It is 55% abv and is reported to be aged “at least 6 years.” Online I’ve read that it has the same mash bill as Rittenhouse BIB, but with higher proof and more aging. I reviewed the Rittenhouse positively a few months ago and was appreciative of its good value. There is a whole Maryland backstory, but the production has been moved to Kentucky like most brands.
Nice golden amber color in the glass, and a smart looking bottle with a cool cork design on top.
Another sweet candy rye, but instead of rock candy like the Crown Rye, this one has more texture and complexity on the nose. I’m also getting freshly toasted cornbread on cast iron with heaps of churned butter, cinnamon, all spice and cracked white pepper corns.
Unbelievably easy to drink and almost impossible to believe that it is 110 proof. No water needed here. There is a very nice mouthfeel, good balance and the finish is very long bringing out the spiciness in the sides of the cheeks.
Jim Murray must have mixed up his top ten or something. The Pikesville shouldn’t be top three either, but it certainly is far more deserving than the Crown, even if it is double the cost (you used to get it for $50, but now it seems to go for $60). The finish on the rye is really what separates it from its peers and earns it an extra point. 93/100