Once in a while, a person has the good fortune of running across something pleasantly unique.
This rye fits that bill, a Colorado Bottled in Bond whisky. The Bottled in Bond designation is something that I had not paid much attention to in my whisky journey. As I best understand it, this designation is associated with a 1897 federal act related to truth in advertising. For a whiskey to be Bottled in Bond, it has to be from a single distillery in one year, and must be labeled regarding the distillery and bottler. The act also requires the whiskey to be produced in the United States, and to be aged at least four years in a federally designated warehouse.
Now the details. Laws San Luis Valley Straight Rye Whiskey is 95% rye and 5% barley and bottled at 50% ABV. The rye mash is half malted, half raw. The rye and barley are locally harvested heirloom grains from two farms owned by the distillers. My bottle is from Batch #2 of the San Luis Valley rye that has been aged for 6 years in charred oak barrels.
I find the fragrance to be a citrus influenced mix of orange, honey and clove. On first sip, there is a light sweetness, orange peel, and an overall spicy character for which I have not quite settled upon the appropriate metric. It also has some general heat, but not quite the pepper notes I find in some ryes. It is clearly a rye that has the characteristic spicy profile one would expect from a 95% rye mix. It has a complex mouthfeel. The finish is long, salty, with cloves and a bit of lingering cinnamon sweetness.
I am going to enjoy trying this in my journey to find the right whisky for a Manhattan. Given my desire to limit the sweetness I have been sticking with ryes, and using more of the Perfect Manhattan mix of sweet and dry vermouth. I suspect that the character and substance of this rye would hold up well in that context.
Frankly, I am not too concerned either way, since I like this rye just fine for sipping neat. It has a bold and distinctive flavor profile that makes it stand out from the crowd.
I was fortunate enough to snag a bottle on a recent trip through Iowa. I have not seen it distributed locally. It would not surprise me if it is somewhat difficult to find given that Laws does not produce high volume batches.