AT A GLANCE
Owned by: Workhorse Rye
Distilled at: Sutherland Distilling Co. in Livermore, CA
Still Type: Hybrid Still
Spirit Type: Whiskey distilled from Rye
Strength: 60% ABV
Price: ~$35 (200ml)
In 2011, Rob Easter founded Workhouse Rye to be a “progressive and sustainable” producer of whiskey and bitters. For the past eight years Easter has operated as an itinerant distiller, renting still time and space from distilleries to ferment, distill, and mature his whiskeys. From 2012-2014, Easter was able to refined his distilling chops at Kings County Distillery in Brooklyn, New York helping to develop their award winning Peated Bourbon. Since 2014, Easter has focused on sourcing most of his grains direct from farmer who are growing non-irrigated heirloom varieties of rye, wheat, corn and barley. Hybridized and GMO grains have been designed to maximize starch production and respond positively to modern farming techniques, (irrigation, fertilizers and pesticides), the consequence however is that these plants has lost a multitude of other compounds that added flavor and depth of character when made into bread or distilled into whiskey. For Easter, he has to use more than 1000 pounds of grain to make one barrel of whiskey, but he believes that despite the lower yield, these grains result in a better spirit that is also less taxing on the environment.
Each expression of Workhorse begins with the same mash bill of 70% west coast rye, 20% malted barley, and 10% malted wheat. The mash is fermented, pot distilled, and then filled in a variety of barrels. US labeling laws for rye whiskey require the spirit to be aged in charred new oak barrels, but because Redhorse matures in used wine barrels, it is just labeled whiskey. For this particular bottling, Easter aged the whiskey for two years in used Broc Cellers Syrah casks before being bottled at 60% ABV.
Nose: On the nose there are fantastic aromas of a nutty Manzanilla sherry intermixed with notes of dried dates, raisins and prunes compote cooked with cinnamon sticks. As the whiskey breaths aromas of dark cherries and chocolate strawberries start to break through.
Palate: On the palate the whiskey is intense with big flavors of cinnamon spice, dried fruit and hazelnuts. With a little water the flavor broadens and opens with more oak notes from the barrel and a touch of milk chocolate.
Finish: The finish lingers with notes of roasted nuts, baked apples and a touch of orange blossom honey.
Conclusion: Redhorse Whiskey is an intense and decadent whiskey that should be sipped over a large ice cube or used to make a fantastic Manhattan. Drinkers who like nutty sherries should search this out and sip judiciously.