Review: Hochstadter’s Slow & Low Rock and Rye

Slow & Low Bottle Shot

Rock & Rye is coming back into vogue as a cocktail, and that’s probably just fine with the folks at Hochstadter’s, who are bottling a premade version of the cocktail called Slow & Low Rock and Rye. (The producer is the same company behind St. Germain, among other recent classics.)

Hochstadter’s takes rye whiskey and flavors it — strongly — with orange and honey (plus a bit of lemon, grapefruit, and horeshound), then bottles the concoction along with plenty of rock candy syrup, which knocks the sweetness into the stratosphere. We sampled a bottle to see what the fuss was all about a century or so ago…

The nose starts off surprisingly perfumed, then that orange peel character starts to push its way to the front. Sharp and sweet, it is punctuated by the earthier honey notes beneath the fruit. The palate is heavy, very heavy, on fruit. Tasted blind (literally blind) I doubt I would be able to peg this as based on whiskey at all, much less rye. Ignore the bottle and you could be drinking a special bottling of Grand Marnier, or perhaps a flavored rum. That’s a long way of saying that the characteristic sweet-and-spice of rye whiskey is largely absent here. What you do get are some vanilla overtones, but these aren’t distinctly whiskeylike. That honeyed orange element is just too powerful to mess with.

Mind you, that’s not a slight. Slow & Low is a flavored whiskey-slash-cocktail in a bottle, and as such the flavor component of that really should shine. That said, Slow & Low is quite the powerhouse, and it’s a bit overwhelming on its own — much more so than any Old Fashioned you’d encounter in a bar or mix up at home. Try it with plenty of ice and maybe a splash of water (or soda) to mellow things out a bit and make it . Also: Mind the extremely wide-mouth bottle. It pours fast!

84 proof.


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7 Responses

  1. Johness Harklou December 2, 2014 / 5:08 am

    Slow and Low has less than 5% sugar by volume, which is about 25% of the sugar included in flavored whiskies such as Southern Comfort, Wild Turkey American Honey, Tennessee Honey, Red Stag, etc. etc.,) flavoured rums, and high proof liqueurs. It is VERY dry compared to these other brands and is by far the driest Rock and Rye in market.

  2. Christopher Null December 2, 2014 / 7:37 am

    I don’t consider Slow and Low in the same category as those honey-flavored whiskeys. But that said, my comments on sweetness refer to the perception on the palate, not the actual sugar content. Sweetness isn’t inherently a bad thing, but Slow and Low is not “dry” by any definition I can muster.

  3. Daniel February 18, 2015 / 3:56 pm

    Based on this review, I refrained from buying and trying a bottle, even though I was really curious. Based on what I read here, I expected something along the lines of a honey whiskey drink or Southern Comfort. I asked the store staff at my local liquor store about that, and they both balked and said, “What?? Oh gosh no, it’s nowhere near as sweet, and you can definitely taste the rye.” So I bought the bottle, and boy, am I glad I did. This is great stuff, and nowhere near as sweet as this review would lead you to believe.

  4. Robin June 11, 2015 / 7:35 pm

    I got a bottle of this from my son for my birthday. I am a huge whiskey fan and have enjoyed rye for years: this is sweet, but not cloying or saccharine/ sticky sweet, , and I LOVE IT!

  5. Tom Krieger August 29, 2015 / 3:04 pm

    This is definitely a “dry” whiskey. I cannot discern any sweetness at all. Really not what I expected and will not be purchasing it again.

  6. Brian January 31, 2016 / 7:32 pm

    A buddy and I were strolling the whiskey section at Total Wine looking for a nice, but not too pricey whiskey for my sister-in-law’s birthday. One of the workers suggested the Slow&Low. So glad we decided to try it. Very smooth with just the right amount of sweet. Will definitely be buying this again.

  7. Anonymous October 5, 2016 / 6:46 pm

    Serve it on a bunch of ice for a nice dilution and it’s really nice. Not as good as my classic old fashioned making skills but can’t beat this cocktail straight of the bottle. Not too sweet, and a nice spicy undertone that resembles bitters.

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