Review: Catoctin Creek Rabble Rouser Rye and 1757 Virginia Brandy XO
Catoctin Creek Distilling in tiny Purcellville, Virginia has a spirits portfolio dominated by rye whiskey. Why rye? Because they wanted to stay true to the earliest whiskey-making traditions of Virginia. While their whiskey offerings are exclusively rye, the core line-up includes several different proof options – 80 proof, 92 proof, and cask strength (which we’ll be reviewing soon) – as well as a few barrel-finished releases. To celebrate their 10th anniversary, the distillery recently released Rabble Rouser Bottled in Bond, its oldest rye to date at four years old and also its very first bonded whiskey. Not satisfied with just one celebratory release, Catoctin Creek also launched an XO, bonded version of their Virginia Brandy. We received samples of both for review. Let’s dive in!
Catoctin Creek Rabble Rouser Bottled in Bond Rye Whisky – Rabble Rouser is distilled to a lower proof than their other rye offerrings, which allows more rustic flavor to emerge from the pot stills, according to Catoctin Creek’s owners. On the nose, that homespun quality comes through as honey-covered rye toast, sweet but also a little savory, with subtler aromas of gingerbread and black cherry lingering in the background. On the palate, it’s light but velvety with a peppery heat that, while noticeable, doesn’t overwhelm the litany of other flavors. Raw honey, red licorice, cinnamon, chewy caramel, and maple syrup complement the heavier wood notes, which begin a little sharp but mellow into a long and earthy finish full of tobacco and clove. 100 proof. A- / $99
Catoctin Creek 1757 Virginia Brandy XO Bottled in Bond – Aging since 2010, this brandy is the oldest spirit ever bottled by Catoctin Creek. It’s a 50/50 blend of Seyval blanc and Chambourcin grapes sourced from a winery near the distillery, distilled and aged in a Bordeaux red wine cask. It gets its name from the year the distillery’s home county was founded. The nose immediately shows age with notes of old leather, cigar box, and sultry stewed fruits. Overlaying all of that is a creamy, Tonga vanilla bean note. On the palate it’s a little brighter than I was anticipating, possibly owing to the higher proof. Warming notes of golden raisins, currants, ginger, and dried cherries are slightly out of balance against the dusty incense notes from the wood, which eventually take over on the medium-length finish. A splash of water helps to even this one out more. 100 proof. B+ / $89