Lousiville Slugger Museum and Factory...as Sandy and I found ourselves recently...may we suggest the Evan Williams Experience?
Seriously. Few distelleries are open on Tuesdays, even fewer are kid friendly. EW is the exception. Friendly folks, interactive tour that's fun and informative (will even keep kid's attention for the most part), capped off with a short tasting of different EW offerings at the end. It's really when tasted side-by-side that different charcteristics of different bourbon offerings stand out. It actually kinda hit for the first time the difference between the even keel of a typical base mixed barrel offering versus the milder undertones of single barrel. We picked up a few bottles there for sure...
...then headed over to the Louisville TJ's for even more bourbon, because, you know, Kentucky. Why not? Can't exactly get TJ's hard stuff just anywhere. We picked up an old favorite but in spirit of adventure also chose Trader Joe's High Rye Bourbon. Not a bad price at $19.99.
And of course for sake of comparision I had to try the two side by side. Did that again just now. So the rest of this review oughtta be fun.
At 84 proof, I expected more burn to be honest. But it's not here in the rye variant. The regular ol TJ's straight sure can, as I semi-coughingly reminded myself. Nah, it's much more even and mellow here, with still a semi-fiery undertone. But man oh man...the rye. There's a lot of it, as one would expect. I'm learning to appreciate it, slowly but surely. I feel like it may be somewhat akin to hoppy beers, in that bourbons high in rye would also be a somewhat acquired taste. The mix mash here is 70% corn and 30% rye, so there's definitely a heavy-handed grainy taste here that I'm not accustomed to. Most bourbons seem to be 10% rye or less. A little ice mellows it out, and blossoms some slightly sweet elements.
And sorry, but I laugh at the label note that says "aged in new charred barrels." That's literally every bourbon. It's like listing Cherrios as cholesterol-free, in that it's a given. It's an actual legal requirement for any bourbon to be considered a bourbon to be aged in a newly charred barrel.
It's a sipper meant to be enjoyed slowly, for sure. If I were still into cigars, I'd imagine the two going well hand-in-hand...but I haven't smoked one in years. I've been working my way thru the bottle slowly, as it does go down easily enough, but at the end I'm not sure I'll make it a point to seek out more rye bourbons. I feel it's a drink I can respect and appreciate for what it is, but not completely savor, if that follows. Sandy does enjoy bourbon but more or less is taking a pass at this one. I'd say it's decent enough for what it is, especially at a fairly reasonable (to me) price. Thanks Pennsylvania and your government-run spirit shops. Gonna go with a seven here overall.
Bottom line: Trader Joe's High Rye Bourbon: 7 out of 10 Golden Spoons