Review: Whip Saw Rye Whiskey
The folks at Napa-based Splinter Group Spirits have released a new rye to add to their growing collection. Splinter is masterminded by two wine industry veterans, Steve Matthiasson (of Matthiasson Wines) and Bob Cabral (formerly of Williams Selyem, one of my go-to pinot noir producers). For this rye, the duo takes a collection of sourced rye whiskeys (made from a mash of 76% rye, 21% corn, and 3% malted barley), aged up to seven years, and finishes it in French oak wine barrels which previously held Matthiasson Cabernet Sauvignon and Williams Selyem Pinot Noir. The finished rye carries no formal age statement.
Let’s give this truly unique rye a spin.
There’s a ton of spice on the nose, but Whip Saw is quite soft — lots of gingerbread, butterscotch, rum raisin, and cinnamon toast aromas — sweet but spicy in an engaging and approachable way, like an apple pie cooling on the windowsill. The hint of apple is maybe subconscious on the nose, but on the palate it’s dominant: A bold baked apple character with a punch of sweet red apple, honey, and a cinnamon note pushing back against a somewhat more powerful body of hefty raisin, gingerbread, and a heady incense quality that catches at the back of the throat. The finish is long and lingering — sweet, but also aromatic, with notes of dried flowers but also hints of toasted brioche, sesame, and even dried pineapple.
Wow. There’s a whole lot going on with this whiskey, but its complexity is nothing but engaging from front to back, all in the service of cohesion and balance. While there’s plenty of quality out there in the world of rye, it’s difficult to think of a more outright unique rye whiskey on the market at the moment than this one. If you encounter Whip Saw in your shopping excursions, I highly recommend picking one up. It also comes at a great price considering the quality and uniqueness of the product. You heard it here first!