Rebel Yell Rye

                                                             Today we are sipping on Rebel Yell Small Batch Rye. This is the slightly more expensive, Rye version of the Wheated Bourbon Rebel Yell. We reviewed the regular Rebel Yell and gave it pretty good marks considering it sells for around $15 for the 750ml bottle. We will see if swapping the Wheat for Rye is worth the price upgrade. Ironically, Wheated Bourbons are typically more expensive to produce.

Rebel Yell Small Batch Rye (meaning less than 100 barrels in the batch) comes in the same medicinal looking, synthetic corked bottle as the rest of the RY lines. It is bottled at 90 proof, sells for around $23 for the 750ml bottle and is fairly available. Regrettably, it is only aged 2 years, while there are exceptions, we have not found very many good, 2 year old juice.

A side note, please read our review of the original Rebel Yell for some interesting trivia about the name and its history.

NOSE

Ron:     Strange, I get wheat and corn on the nose, not Rye. Also get a nice aroma of pear and some slight scents of citrus and almonds. The nose was somewhat elusive for me, didn’t get a lot and what I did get took patience.

Todd:  While I catch more Rye than Ron, it does seam to smell more like a traditional Bourbon than a Rye. A smell that reminds me of a candy of my childhood, Bit-O-Honey, was the most prevalent. This was followed by spice, citrus and some kind of black fruit.

TASTE

Ron:    On the tongue I get that big hit of Rye that eluded my nose. Also taste the citrus and pear that I did get on the nose. Secondary flavors included spice, malt and honey.

Todd:    Definitely the spicy Rye is prominent along with a nice bit of sweet caramel. Didn’t really get much more.

FINISH

Ron:   A medium finish with some more malt and spice.

Todd:   Medium-long with a nice sweet finish with just a touch of mint.

OVERALL

Ron:    Not a bad buy for the price. I have to say, this Rye tastes older that 2 years.

Todd:  Pretty much just have to echo what Ron said. Good buy for the price and tastes older than 2 years. I would buy again.

Nose      3.5 out of 5

Taste      8.5 out of 10

Finish     4 out of 5

Total score        16 out of 20 barrels.

Well we both think that this is a pretty good drink, especially considering the price. Not too bad neat, nice on the rocks and the 90 proof with the strong Rye makes for a decent cocktail. It has a nice price point that is a little above Rittenhouse Rye and a little below Bulleit Rye.

Final verdict, if you like Rye, go ahead and give Rebel Yell Small Batch Rye a try. If if you don’t like Rye, give it a shot anyways, maybe it will change your tune.

 

 

 

 

Ron’s Nearly World Famous Maraschino Cherries

This is a must try if you like Cherries to garnish your cocktails. It is my rendition from a multitude of recipes I researched, homogenizing them and tweaking to it to make, in my opinion, the Best Maraschino Cherries, Period!

Just for clarification, what I am calling real Maraschino Cherries is not what I grew up knowing them to be. Those types of Cherries are readily available in supermarkets which are blanched to the point of being almost clear then dumped in a vat of sucrose or corn syrup with massive amounts of red dye. These are NOT real Maraschino Cherries, even though the jar may indicate so on the label. My Cherries are of the “Old School” type where Maraschino Liqueur and real Cane Sugar are the base ingredients with a variety of natural spices. I am not a fan of the thick syrup that is typically found in commercially available real Maraschino Cherries so I have reduced the amount of Sugar in my recipe. My syrup is much lighter and does not have the consistency of motor oil. I also reduced the amount of Maraschino Liqueur ever-so-slightly, replacing it with Bourbon (or Rye). Additionally, making your own Cherries is rewarding, better tasting and more cost effective than paying $20 for a small jar of mushy Cherries with a fancy label made commercially.

Ingredients for 1 pound of Cherries:

·    1 Pound of fresh Cherries, pitted with stems removed (I prefer using Michigan Bings)

·    ¾ Cup of Cane Sugar

·    ¾ cup of water

·    ½ cup of Maraschino Liqueur (I use Luxardo but can be substituted with other manufacturers)

·    ¼ cup of Bourbon (or Rye if desired)

·    ¼ Vanilla Bean, scraped (1 Tsp of Vanilla Extract if Vanilla Bean is not available)

·    ½ Tsp of Almond Extract

·    1 Cinnamon Stick (I cut mine in fourths)

·    Juice from 1 Lemon (2 Tbsp. of Lemon Juice if real Lemons are not available)

·    4 individual orbs of Allspice

Preparation:

·        In a medium sized saucepan (or larger pan if making a multi-batch) add the cane sugar and scraped vanilla bean caviar (or 1 Tsp of Vanilla Extract). Cook on medium, add the cinnamon sticks, allspice, juice from 1 lemon and water. Bring contents to a boil then turn down to a simmer for +/- 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

·        Add the fresh Cherries, continue cooking at a simmer for +/- 5 minutes and are slightly softened. Remove from the heat and stir in Maraschino liqueur and Bourbon. Allow the contents to cool down slightly warmer than room temperature (100* F) while continuing to stir occasionally.

·        Fill the canning jars with Cherries to the jars shoulders and back-fill with the juice to just cover the Cherries. If you are canning, follow the proper canning prep procedures. If you are not canning them you must put them directly in the refrigerator. Have the jars ready and warm or slightly hot, timing them to the point to where the Cherries are ready to be placed in them. I have found that the short 8 oz. Ball jars work best as their size does not lend to too much product in one container especially if you cannot consume the entire jar inside of 6 weeks or are giving them away as a gift. For a stronger aroma of Allspice and Cinnamon, leave the residual remains of the spices in the batch and include them in your stored jars otherwise you may want to remove them before canning or cook with the spices in a mesh bag. You will need about 3-4 jars per 1 lb. of fresh Cherries used. I have tried the recipe both ways, by canning them then storing in a pantry and placing them directly in the refrigerator. There is a big difference in texture between storing in a pantry and refrigerating them. The texture of the Cherries is a bit mushy stored in a pantry and much firmer if stored directly in a refrigerator.

Making Maraschino Cherries in winter:

Since fresh Cherries are simply nonexistent in the winter, you can substitute frozen for the fresh Cherries. You will get a bit different taste, usually a bit sweeter, due to the sugars crystallizing during the flash-freeze process but they are not as large or firm. The prep is nearly identical as with fresh Cherries with the difference being you must cook them a bit longer if not thawed prior to adding them to the sauce pan. If they are added frozen, turn the heat down to medium and cook for 7-10 minutes. On a side note, I experimented with 4 different types/brands of frozen Cherries and have found the Trader Joe’s “sweet dark” variety to be the best. I found them to be larger in size, firmer and sweeter than any of the others.

Voila!

You now have your very own homemade Maraschino Cherries that will surpass anything you can buy, by both taste and quality. You can eat them straight-away but it is best to let the flavors marry for 2-3 days. If you don’t can them, they will last up to 6 weeks in the fridge. If you can them, they will last up to 6 months or more (if not opened). After the canned Cherries have been opened, the shelf life is the same as not canning them, up to 6 weeks in the refrigerator. Always keep them refrigerated if they are not canned or after they are opened.

These Cherries are great for an out-of-this world Old-Fashioned or Manhattan. I typically enjoy my Cherries in Bourbon on the rocks adding a teaspoonful of the juice and a splash or two of my favorite Bitters. Of course, you could always use them on ice cream but why? Bourbon is so much better!

Cheers, Ron!

Canadian Club Rye

                                                             As you have read in our previous Canadian Whisky reviews,  you know we are not huge fans of Canadian juice. They are not terrible, but the ones we have tried lacked complexity and character with the one exception being Crown Royal Northern Rye. So maybe our neighbors to the North have figured out how to make a decent Rye, we will see.

Canadian Club 100% Rye comes with a synthetic cork in a short rectangular bottle, which is very different from the original CC bottle and sports a green label. It is bottled at a Whisky standard minimum of 80 proof (like almost all Canadian juice), sells for around $18 for the 750 ml bottle and seems to be widely available. There is no age statement on the bottle and we couldn’t get clarification of its age researching the Internet. It seems to be around 2 years old.

One thing our research did uncover is that the regular CC is made of corn, Rye, and barley. While this in itself is not news, how it all comes together is enlightening. All three ingredients are distilled and aged separately then are blended just prior to bottling. Traditionally the mash bill of Rye and all Bourbon is distilled together, then aged in oak until matured, and finally bottled. So this is just the same Rye ingredient of the traditional CC before it is blended and bottled. This process seems to resemble an assembly line rather than a traditional Whiskey producer.

NOSE

Todd:  Like almost all Rye that has not been aged very long, I get a nose of bad Irish Whisky and varnish. I also get some faint hints of toast, malt and a oily-smoky odor. Strange, being 100% Rye it didn’t really smell like a Rye.

Ron:   First thought, it’s Canadian! I get the varnish and slight bit of malt that Todd picked up. Nothing really jumps out though, just secondary aromas of wet wood, ethanol and a hint of Rye. I also get an ever so slight scent of brown sugar.

TASTE

Todd:  I get the same varnish and bad Irish Whisky upfront that I got on the nose. Also like the nose, this doesn’t taste like a Rye. Secondary taste included malt, oil and a touch of floral. Somewhat hot for 80 proof but fairly smooth.

Ron:   Agree, hot for 80 proof. I get the varnish, malt and ethanol that I got on the nose. Add to that, some spice and bitterness.

FINISH

Todd:   Medium with more varnish.

Ron:    Medium-short with more bitterness and ethanol.

OVERALL

Todd:  I did not really enjoy this Whisky, it actually took me a while to get the taste out of my mouth.

Ron:   Simply not impressed one bit. I don’t need a bottle taking up valuable real estate in my cabinet.

Nose      2.5 out of 5

Taste      6.5 out of 10

Finish     2.5 out of 5

Total score      11.5 out of 20 Barrels

We know the bottle only sells for around $18 but we both like the original CC better. You can often find the original in the 1.75 ml jug for under $20. This tastes more like varnish or paint than a Rye. We both had to wash out our glasses and mouths before we enjoyed a real Rye on our second pour (you will have to read our next blog to find out what it was).

Our recommendation to you, avoid! Our recommendation to CC, use Canadian Club 100% Rye for its original purpose, as an ingredient in the original Canadian Club.