Review: Castle & Key Restoration Rye Single Barrel and Batch 3 (2021)

Review: Castle & Key Restoration Rye Single Barrel and Batch 3 (2021)

Early last year, Rob covered the first two Restoration Rye releases out of Castle & Key, one of Kentucky’s newest and most talked about distilleries painstakingly resurrected from an iconic and historic site (for that backstory, see Rob’s review). In 2021, the distillery debuted three new batches of Restoration Rye in limited quantities over the course of the year while also introducing cask strength single barrels in late fall as gift shop exclusives, each meant to showcase “the anomaly, the unusual, the interesting.” We got our hands on one of these rare single barrels (only nine released thus far), along with the latest Restoration Rye release. Thoughts follow.

Castle & Key Restoration Rye Single Barrel – The label on this single barrel offers a little more detail than the standard batch releases, denoting on the backside a 4-year-old age statement, along with recipe, barrel number, and the cooper (Kentucky’s Speyside). The nose is tame for cask strength with lots of bright, ripe orchard fruit, a grassy wintergreen quality, and Bit-O-Honey candies. The palate punches with barrel proof flavors but not aggressively so. A rich layer of Demerara sugar saturates secondary flavors of muddled mint, clove chewing gum, and toasted marshmallow. A bit of mild astringency arrives on the peppery finish before quickly fading to caramel candies and a bit of candied ginger. 119.1 proof. A- / $65

Castle & Key Restoration Rye Batch 3 (2021) – Like the very first batches in 2020, this rye whiskey is made from a recipe of 63% rye, 20% malted barley, and 17% yellow corn and blended from small batches. At 3.5 years, age unsurprisingly hasn’t increased much from its debut. The nose is rich and toasty with buttery, bready rye notes slathered in mildly sweet stone fruit jam. A bit of expressed citrus, white pepper, and golden straw round out a uniquely complex aroma. The palate is rich and oily, showcasing a refreshing balance of spice cabinet, dried apricot, and iced black tea complete with a fresh lemon squeeze. There’s a wonderful warmth here that simmers from the first sip to a smoldering finish accented by slightly syrupy notes of tinned pears and steeped tea leaves. 105 proof. A / $45

Castle & Key Restoration Rye Single Barrel




Drew Beard is assistant editor for Drinkhacker and winner of several booze-related merit badges, including Certified Specialist in Spirits and Executive Bourbon Steward. A former federal employee turned hotelier and spirits journalist, he looks forward to his next midlife crisis.

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