The name Ezra Brooks has been around for over fifty years, and has spent the last twenty four under the Luxco umbrella. Up until recently the brand has only had a few mainstay’s, their black label bourbon, a blended offering, and their 7 Year 101 Proof whiskey. Last year they released their inaugural seasonal bourbon cream [that was a mainstay in our coffee this winter] and they’re now ready to join the ranks of new American rye whiskies that are fast filling shelves everywhere.
A lot of you quit reading when you hit Luxco, but if you made it this far I both applaud you and you’re in for a treat; word has it that this rye was distilled at the famed Heaven Hill distillery, home to many rye and bourbon favourites. I’ve seen other sites mention MGP and Luxco is mum about it, but I’ve heard more about the former. So despite being sourced, it’s provenance and the quality Heaven Hill or MGP is known for, is behind it. But how does it taste? Here’s my review:
Nose: Mildly astringent, peppery, some vanilla, apple pie.
Taste: Rye spice up front but it isn’t too hot, much like on the nose you find pepper, vanilla, a very faint toasted oak, bitter green apples [which I get from so many ryes], fading to nice rye spices with a bit of ginger.
Finish: Oak begins to come through here, ginger, cinnamon, like the aftertaste of eating apple pie cooked in a wood oven. A pleasant medium long finish.
Luxco brought Ezra Brooks Straight Rye Whiskey to market, because according to Fletcher Buchman, brand manager at Luxco, “In the past 12 months, we have seen rapid growth in the rye category, up 27 percent*, which indicates consumers are interested in more rye whiskey products…” But this doesn’t feel rushed, it’s not cloyingly sweet like many young rye’s. Despite being no age statement [NAS] it seems like it spent time in a full size barrel and even though they’re taking advantage of a growing market, it wasn’t rushed out the door.
Ezra Brooks Rye comes in at 90 Proof [45% ABV] and will retail for between $18 and $21, which puts it on the bottom shelf right alongside long time rye stalwart Old Overholt and the new Canadian Club 100% Rye. I feel this is an extremely fair price and would even be comfortable paying a bit more. It isn’t as sweet and syrupy as Overholt and isn’t as hot as Sazerac rye. For what most people would price as a bottom shelf whiskey, I feel it holds its own on a quickly crowded stage as something to shoot, sip, or use in a cocktail that doesn’t demand something spirit forward.
It isn’t reinventing the wheel or raising a bar, overall Ezra Brooks Straight Rye whiskey helps set a good baseline by which other new ryes should be judged. You should be able to find a bottle at all major retail outlets nationwide in the coming months. If you’ve had it, what do you think?