Uncle Nearest is getting into the rye game in a big way this fall. Soon, the Tennessee distillery will be offering a whopping three new rye whiskey expressions. But before that happens, Uncle Nearest has given its most dedicated fans a cask strength, non-chill filtered sneak peek at what’s to come with this bottle. I’ll let the distillery’s founder, Fawn Weaver, fill you in:
Today, we continue celebrating the legacy of Nearest Green, the Godfather of Tennessee Whiskey, with the newest addition to our Master Blend Edition Portfolio: Uncle Nearest Uncut/Unfiltered Straight Rye Whiskey, our first Rye expression. As with our inaugural Master Blend Edition, this Uncut/Unfiltered Straight Rye Whiskey represents the favorite barrels of Victoria Eady Butler, our Master Blender, fifth generation Nearest Green descendant and four-time Master Blender of the Year recipient.
Born in the North – in Canada according to the exact American specifications required to be a Straight Rye Whiskey — and raised in New York for a minimum of four years before moving down to Tennessee, this Rye is crafted and blended by Victoria. As she puts it, “My great-great-grandfather was known for his whiskey filtration method. But this 100% rye is so spectacular, we dared not cut or filter it.”
So, to recap, this is 100% rye sourced from an unspecified Canadian distiller, aged at least four years (in New York), and reportedly “rested” for an unspecified amount of time in used Uncle Nearest barrels. While several rye expressions will see broad distribution soon, Uncut/Unfiltered has been exclusively available only at the distillery in Shelbyville since its release in mid-September. Let’s see if it’s worth a drive.
This is bold and burly stuff, not your sweet or fruity Kentucky or Maryland style ryes, but an earthy, grain-driven whiskey. The aroma is aggressive with dusty granary notes: haybales, rye grass, and grist. A bit of dried orange peel and some sandalwood, even an unexpected caramel corn note, offer suggestions of sweetness, but things stay dry, even as it opens up. The palate offers a bit more complexity and sweetness while remaining uniquely savory and muscular with a dominant rye spice. Things kick off with a chili pepper heat that quickly turns to black pepper and a hugging warmth. It’s oily and grows thicker across the palate with notes of chewy caramel, orange gummies, and peanut butter. A cabinet full of ground spices lead the way with cinnamon and clove foremost among them. The spicy finish lingers with a caramel-kissed warmth, roasted nuts, and a bit of citrus.
While the proof is not exactly scorching, I highly recommend adding water. A healthy splash softens the aroma considerably and elevates warmer, sweeter notes of rye bread and molasses cookies. The palate is significantly transformed with a maple sweetness that amplifies the baking spice and brings out lovely notes of milk chocolate and tobacco. Fans of big, bold rye whiskeys should consider planning a trip to Tennessee. Just don’t forget to hydrate. You and the whiskey.
A- / $150 / unclenearest.com