Blue Run has been on quite a streak this year. After releasing batch 2 of their Golden Rye along with Reflection I, a High Rye Bourbon, and their impressive Flight Series, the brand is back again with their latest expression: Blue Run Emerald Rye. Though this is only the third rye, and only the second cask strength rye, from Blue Run, they’ve been slowly but surely establishing an expectation for their take on the style.
While their Golden Rye releases and their Holiday Cask Strength Rye were all noteworthy for their approachability, Blue Run Emerald Rye takes a different tack by ratcheting up the proof and delivering an altogether more expressive experience. With sweet mint chewing gum, fresh herbs, and black pepper swirling in the air immediately after my first pour, I then brought my nose to the glass and met a significant bit of heat. Once the whiskey was given time to rest, aromas of fresh pepper, sliced pear, and star anise began to waft out of the glass along with a touch of leather, the slight pungency of cream cheese frosting, and a dollop of caramel.
The nosing experience is at first intense and though it soon mellows, the tasting experience resumes the wild ride and the heft of its proof is felt. Following some initial heat this whiskey reveals itself to have a rich mouthfeel as notes of caramel and spearmint roll over the tongue before black pepper detonates on the surprisingly long lasting finish. Fresh herbs continue to express themselves on the palate without coming across as overly grassy like many ryes tend to do. Instead, Blue Run has fully embraced the Kentucky style, which in this case is chock-full of spearmint chewing gum but tempered by sweet oak and an undercurrent of stone fruit.
Once the fireworks from its outsized abv calm down, what you’re left with is a flavorful whiskey that’s deceptively sweet while still maintaining the characteristics of a classic rye. Like many bottles of Blue Run released to date, this one carries a wallet-wilting asking price that nearly threatens to make it as difficult to recommend as it is pleasurable to enjoy. Fortunately, thanks to its impressive balance of flavors and intriguing complexity, it remains mostly in the latter camp – making it yet another butterfly worth catching while it lasts.
B+ / $110 / bluerunspirits.com