Uncle Nearest has had quite a precocious start as a nascent distillery, and they kicked their output into overdrive to cap off 2022. The brand did so by introducing the world to their ’12 Weeks of Christmas’ campaign which saw the Uncle Nearest add three permanent expressions to its national portfolio: Uncle Nearest Straight Rye Whiskey, Uncle Nearest Single Barrel Black Label, and Uncle Nearest Single Barrel Rye. Today we’ll be examining the Single Barrel Rye which clocks in at cask strength and comes with a particularly peculiar provenance. The company states, “Each of our inaugural barrels hails from New York, where they aged in new American oak for a minimum of four years after a short stint in B.C., where they were born.” With B.C. being shorthand for British Columbia that means this initial run of single barrels is comprised of Canadian whisky with a 100% rye mash bill that was then aged in the Empire State before finding a home in Tennessee for this release.
Setting aside the circuitous journey this whiskey took, the more direct implication here is that though this expression will begin as a distillery exclusive it will eventually be available nationally via the digital distributor, ReserveBar. Here at Drinkhacker we’ve previously awarded high marks to Uncle Nearest’s first rye offering, and so let’s extend our coverage and see how their latest compares.
The scent of warm apple cider, vanilla pod, and figs fill the air at first. Following up those initial aromas are notes of flour and cinnamon (think cookie dough) along with youthful oak, freshly cracked black pepper, and the faint aroma of green grapes. Apple cider is again present on the first sip along with unsalted soft pretzel and cinnamon chewing gum joining the ride. The heat rises slowly as each sip makes its way to the back of the palate, which seems to have been bottled at the ideal proof. The oak is subtle and the finish is both lengthy and almost juicy, despite the moderately high heat felt through the length of the finish. It’s on that finish where baking spice threatens to overpower the sweeter notes, before slowly receding to allow bits of butterscotch and a grain-forward note that seems indicative of its presumed youth. (This expression has no age statement.)
While the Uncut/Unfiltered version of Uncle Nearest’s British Columbia-born rye stock previously impressed, it carried a price tag nearly double this more readily available single barrel expression. Fortunately, for those who missed Uncle Nearest’s first rye, this single barrel is more than capable of holding its own. Providing every bit of the high proof punch plus delivering in the flavor department to boot, this is one rye you shouldn’t let pass you by.
B+ / $90 / unclenearest.com