Nevada-based Frey Ranch has been on a tear with new releases of both bourbon and rye, including limited edition single barrel offerings of both. This new expression is an overproof but permanent addition to the Frey Ranch lineup, a cask strength (62.15% abv) version of its classic bourbon (45% abv), which it refers to as “Farm Strength.” There’s no age statement, but the standard edition is at least 4 years old.
Bottled at cask strength, the new non-chill filtered, small batch whiskey is produced using 100% of the slow-grown grains that are grown, harvested, milled, distilled on the Frey Ranch farm year-round. Proudly using the corn, wheat, barley, and rye that Co-Founder and Whiskey Farmer Colby Frey cultivates has become a hallmark of the brand – and the driving force behind Frey Ranch’s explosive growth in Nevada and California. Today, Frey Ranch is the #1 selling ultra-premium bourbon in Nevada and one of the largest whiskey producers on the West Coast.
At 124.3 proof and aged for an average of five years, Frey Ranch Farm Strength Uncut Bourbon utilizes the same mash bill as the flagship four grain Straight Bourbon Whiskey: 66.6% Dent Corn, 10% Winter Wheat, 11.4% Winter Rye, and 12% Two Row Barley.
There’s a lot of familiarity up front in this release, with that Old West nose mingling together mint, walnuts, anise, and plenty of fresh lumberyard. It’s definitely still a craft whiskey, albeit one which has a level of refinement to it, though with time in glass, a more aggressive earthiness — more rustic than expected — comes into view.
On the palate, standard Frey Ranch Bourbon can be a surprisingly delicate, corn-meets-honey experience. The Farm Strength experience is far less gentle on the drinker, pushing an aggressive agenda of creosote, charred rye grains, and more of that anise character. A gingerbread sweetness emerges with some air time, but it’s invariably filtered through a hefty layer of char, giving it a pungent, over-oaked, almost burnt quality. I found a solid splash of water was an incredible help on this one, though it dulled some of the spicier notes, leaving behind a bold peanut character filtered through a milder note of red pepper and chimney soot. More than anything, char lingers on the finish.
All told, I found this less compelling than Frey Ranch’s rack bourbon — as well as its recent single barrel offering (though your mileage will vary on those from one barrel to the next) — but still worth sampling. My best suggestion would be primarily to use it as a cocktailing ingredient for overproof libations rather than sipping solo.
124.3 proof. Reviewed: Batch #9.
B / $80 / freyranch.com