Hemingway Whiskey Company is a new project from the people variously behind Angel’s Envy whiskey, Papa’s Pilar rum, and The Old Man and the Sea. There’s plenty of credibility behind the bottle, but what’s inside is mostly MGP: 94% 9 year old Indiana straight rye plus 6% 4 year old Kentucky straight rye distilled by Jacob Call of Angel’s Envy fame. (The MGP rye here is almost surely made from its 95% rye, 5% barley recipe.) Both are finished in rum-seasoned oloroso sherry casks for an unstated length of time, making for a surprisingly complex production process.
The whiskey’s bottle is bottle adorned with a typewriter key design alongside Ernest Hemingway’s signature and “a unique, removable card on the back, inspired by old-fashioned library book cards, inviting imbibers to pour their own stories and log who they share their rye with.”
Well, let’s settle in and see if this rye — a rum man, I always thought — has done Papa proud.
The nose is definitely bold with rye spice, grassy and well peppered, with overtones of tobacco and cloves. Sharp and insistent, the whiskey’s cigar box notes becoming increasingly strong in glass, smoldering with intensity yet never hinting at any involvement of either rum or sherry.
Similar impressions on the palate: Again grassy and pepper-laden, though notes of citrus start to emerge with some time in glass. This adds a welcome and needed sweetness that tempers that herbaceous quality, folding orange cream notes in with vanilla and caramel, but by and large those more savory notes dominate. Over time, touches of saffron and a little bitter cinchona make an appearance. Eventually, the finish evokes a few hints of cigarette ash awakened by orange oil and a generalized floral character, almost potpourri-like.
Where does the whiskey stop and the rum/sherry combination begin? That’s always tough to say, but to be sure the finishing influence here is decidedly mild, adding just a slight pinch of nuance to a fairly straightforward rye experience.
B+ / $110 / hemingwaywhiskeys.com