Whiskey price

Kentucky Owl The Wiseman Straight Rye Whiskey Review

As we wrote when Kentucky Owl first launched The Wiseman line in October:

Since its inception, the Stoli Group’s Kentucky Owl brand has been defined by ultra-premium pricing, with $300 editions being the norm, and occasional special releases like last year’s Dry State carrying really price tags. absurd on the order of $1,000. In the process, the brand helped normalize the idea of ​​buying $200 or $300 bottles of bourbon from an independent bottler, streamlined by the idea of ​​a superlative master blender creating blends from well-aged bourbon that you couldn’t taste anywhere else. Since Kentucky Owl first appeared on the scene, we’ve seen an exponential increase in the number of ultra-premium sourced brands.

Eventually, however, the pendulum always swings in the opposite direction, and even the likes of Kentucky Owl begin to think about how they might tap into the non-luxury bourbon market. Enter, The Wiseman, a new pure Kentucky bourbon whiskey from Kentucky Owl that may well redefine the company’s image with its lower age claims, proof point and price tag. Suffice to say that we have never been able to buy a bottle with the name Kentucky Owl for nearly $60 before.

We liked The Wiseman Straight Bourbon quite well, finding it an adaptable and versatile everyday bourbon, although it’s worth noting that even at this more affordable price point there are still plenty of competing options that arguably offer a even greater market value. For its first extension of The Wiseman range, however, Kentucky Owl turned to rye whiskey, and the results are quite interesting. This is an ageless product, but the increased strength (100.8 proof) in particular helps set this one apart, even though it includes a familiar mash bill from a less familiar source.

Wiseman Straight Rye Whiskey is made from the aforementioned 95% rye and 5% malted barley mash bill that is intimately associated with Indiana’s MGP, but it’s not rye from Indiana – it’s a Kentucky clean, distilled entirely by the ultra-flexible folks over at Bardstown Bourbon Co. The BBC team adapted the classic 95-5 recipe as their own, and this whiskey then went on to was guided and blended by Kentucky Owl Master Blender John Rhea. As noted above, there is no official age statement, but the “pure rye” label with no additional specific age statement tells us that it is at least 4 years old, and possibly a little more. It’s younger overall than The Wiseman Straight Bourbon, which may be why Kentucky Owl decided to bump the proof point, from 90.8 proof (45.4% ABV) in the bourbon to 100.8 evidence (50.4% ABV) in rye. That, or maybe they just thought that a proof point close to ‘bound’ territory would suit this whiskey better than a cocktail rye. Either way, it helps add a bit more value to this bottle, which has an MSRP of $60, the same as the bourbon.

That said, let’s get to the tasting.

On the nose, The Wiseman Straight Rye opens with a honeyed sweetness, but absolutely not lacking in rye grain – it really is very advanced rye, with lots of pepper and anise, sweetened a bit with caramel. Overall it has the marks of a very spicy modern rye, with some herbal undertones, and one definitely gets a sense of the MGP-like DNA present in the 95-5 recipe. The only thing missing from the nose that one would probably expect to find in a similar MGP rye, in fact, is that “dill” note that many drinkers associate with the recipe. But in all honesty, it’s very close in terms of dryness and spiciness.

In the mouth, the first surprising thing here is the texture, quite oily and full in the mouth, which gives it a real feeling of weight. There’s more honey here, though it’s balanced in terms of sweet/dry impressions, with green tea, warm cinnamon, and tons of rye spice. Its flavor is very “pure” rye – it really does resemble the unbridled, boldly spicy flavor of unmalted rye that was traditionally used in making rye whisky, rather than the pasty, breaded, malty rye that has sometimes been used more often by craft distillers. . Personally, I generally find the drier, punchier, spicier rye more interesting, and I enjoy it here. In terms of additional notes, I also pick up some green apple fruitiness, some toasty oak, and a subtle, hard-to-place herbaceousness.

In all? Like The Wiseman Straight Bourbon, this one is quite classic and quite versatile. The high proof point in particular feels like it’s really meant to be a rye cocktail base, ready to spice up your next Manhattan or what have you. Are there still larger overall values ​​on the market? Of course, in a world where Rittenhouse Rye or Old Forester Straight Rye Whiskey exist, it will be hard to beat this point of proof. But compared to the exorbitant prices of the primary editions of the Kentucky Owl, it still feels like a value. And if one loves the flavor of rye, you can’t blame this one for failing to do so.


Distillery: Kentucky Owl (via Bardstown Bourbon Co.)
City: Bardstown, Kentucky
Style: Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey
ABV: 50.4% (100.8 proof)
Availablity: 750ml bottles, $60 MSRP



Jim Vorel is a staff writer at Paste and a resident beer and liquor geek. You can follow him on Twitter for more drink writing.