You probably felt this one coming: A second release from Bob Dylan’s Heaven’s Door Decade Series. While last year’s original Decade was a bourbon, this new release is a rye, made from 95% rye and 5% malted barley, and aged in barrel, as the name suggests, for a full 10 years. I don’t have any verification, but it’s pretty clear this is sourced MGP stock that completes its aging in Tennessee before bottling.
We received a small sample to check out. Let’s dig in.
First up, those familiar with the 95/5 rye profile will find this to be decidedly familiar, perhaps to the point of tedium. Honestly, there’s not a lot of new ground broken here, though this has long been a winning formula that no one much likes to mess with. Aggressively grassy, the nose is stuffed with herbal qualities that evoke rosemary, thyme, and ample notes of freshly cut hay. Peppery and biting at 50% abv, a little water isn’t a bad idea to tame the onslaught of greenery and help things coalesce a bit more clearly — which it does.
The palate feels in line with what’s come before, heavy on more savory notes of fresh grass and herbs, almost beefy at times as it develops in the glass. Smoldering with ample, rumbling barrel char, becoming almost smoky over time, there’s no mistaking the impact of all that rye in the mash. I kept tempering this with more and more water because it helped to coax out some light notes of almond nougat, brown sugar, and clover honey. But the fruit and sweetness are quite restrained, and it takes a delicate hand to get the balance right. More pepper, both black and cayenne, endure on the finish, which can be lengthy.
As you might expect, this is a rye built for rye lovers — and it doesn’t have much in common with Heaven’s Door’s line of masterful bourbons. This is certainly solid enough on its own merits, but in the end I found myself wishing I had one of the brand’s bourbons on hand instead.