Hirsch Rye, 21 year old, 46.5%

Price: $140.00 Issue: Winter 2006 Reviewer: John Hansell

One of the biggest American whiskeys I’ve tasted. We’re talking heavyweight class here. Notes of thick, chewy toffee and maple syrup are balanced nicely by firm, spicy rye notes, candied fruit, faint dusty corn, and polished oak. The bold spice notes of the rye (and oak) emerge again on the finish. Not as crisp and clean as the Sazerac Rye 18 year old (our Whiskey of the Year for 2005), but it makes up a lot of ground in its lush, decadent, mouth-coating richness. This is a dark, decadent whiskey. My take on the rye whiskey market is that these older expressions are becoming increasingly scarce and more expensive. (No one could have predicted such a demand, or even a category, two decades ago.) If you are a rye whiskey advocate, buy the good ones at the best price you can get.