Liberty Pole Spirits: Rye Whiskey

When we launched the Toronto Whisky Society, one of the goals was to try new whiskies and provide honest, unbiased feedback on them. Our members have been doing this for quite a while now on Reddit, with over 2000 reviews posted collectively on the network. We soon found that distilleries are eager to get word out about their products and that our group is a means for them to do that, and we’re eager to help in that regard, with the caveat that we’ll only ever be honest and not allow free samples or bottles to influence our evaluations. Liberty Pole Spirits is one of those distilleries that wanted to spread the word, and to date, hadn’t gotten any third party feedback on their spirits, save for those who came to taste them at the distillery. They sent us these samples which we distributed to our most seasoned reviewers. They do triple distillation on most of their whisky using a 300gal copper pot still (non-hybrid), and use locally sourced grains. Most of these have been aged in very small barrels with a #3 char for only a few months, though they’re planning to increase the size of barrels and the time spent in them very soon. They indicated their heart cuts are very conservative to offset the lack of aging time.

Disclosure: We received these samples for free from the distillery with the understanding that we’d be posting reviews without regard for where the samples came from. Liberty Pole Spirits agreed to these terms.j24pzqn

Seven members reviewed their Rye Whiskey, which is the same mashbill as the white dog (61% Rye, 13% Wheat, 13% malted Rye, 13% malted barley), and then aged for an indeterminate amount of time, though a letter they sent with the samples suggested it’s months, not years. It’s bottled at 46% ABV.

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Bryan’s Review:

  • Appearance: pretty typical bourbon orange.
  • Nose: very woody nose, with a fresh young cedar note. Some floral notes and some dill too, which tells me the interaction of rye and wood creates that ester, rather than the rye itself (given the absence of it in the white dog), which is a cool learning! smells quite young, but decent overall.
  • Palate: very fresh-wood-forward up front, and then dill takes over. Young Woody dill-bomb is basically the essence of it. Its youth shows as it’s fairly harsh and hot. Decent body on it. I could see this being quite nice if aged a few years in a regular cask, as there’s solid potential here. I still get that metallic note and wonder if those plastic bottles leached a bit.
  • Finish: medium length, dilly, woody.
  • Score: 75/100

as I said, it needs more time to be considered a GOOD rye, but there’s a solid foundation here to build off of. I prefer it to the Dickel Rye I tried a while back, as well as some other craft distillery ryes I’ve tried.

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Devoz’s Review:

  • Nose: Lots of wood on the nose, dill, saw dust, pepper, vanilla. That aroma which young bourbons and ryes have.
  • Palate: Lots of wood, and dill. Some nice spice, also some sweet notes to compliment it. Caramel and fresh cut wood.
  • Finish: Dill, pepper, cinnamon, oak, wood, saw dust and hay on the finish. Medium. Interesting mix of spice and sweetness. Bit bitter on the tail end of the finish.
  • Score: 74/100

Some nice characteristics here, additional time to mellow out some of the rough spots will likely improve it.

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DistillAsian’s Review:

  • Appearance: Light orange
  • Nose: Extinguished fire (think if you had poured water over some really hot coals of a fire you were trying to put out). Corn, but not very strong, it’s like I’m smelling the water a few cobs of corn were boiled in. Surprisingly floral at the back end, it’s probably closest to eucalyptus and damp greenhouse scents.
  • Taste: Peat, which is really nice. Then oak. Hint of caramel. But overall it’s not too sweet. Feels very earthy and damp.
  • Finish: Bitter dark chocolate, strong oak and some dirt.
  • Score: 75/100

This is really strange and if I were tasting this blind, I’d be hard pressed to identify it. Really glad I got to try this. I typically prefer my bourbon/rye on the sweeter side, so this is a very interesting take on it.

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Kinohead’s Review:

  • Nose: Dill, soft vanilla, mild wood, fresh cut grass, and a slighly metallic sourness.
  • Palate: Pleasant grain with caramel, honey, wood, vanilla, and faint strawberry throughout.
  • Finish: Gentle rye graininess, black pepper, grass, wet hay, spinach, and mineral notes.
  • Score: 74/100

This drink didn’t have much in the way of a boldness or surprising notes that I normally like in a rye. It feels youthful and the grassiness is quite present and somewhat challenging. That said, it’s incredibly gentle at 46%. I wouldn’t rush to throw this in cocktails, I think the rye would get lost, but it it’s pleasant enough sipped neat. It would be interesting to taste an older, higher proof version of this. Bottling at 46% was a wise choice, I think any less would be a real detriment to this. Again though, it lacks the punch and complexity I look for in a rye.

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Kyle’s Review:

  • Appearance: 1.4, Tawny
  • Nose: Heavy on the dill, there is almost a sort of edge to it that comes across as garlic dill pickles. A lot of the barnyard elements from the white dog are also present here.
  • Taste: Think of a pickle factory operating inside of a barn, now imagine tasting how that would smell, and that is basically what this comes across as. Wood sap again, with sawdust and dill.
  • Finish: Relatively short. Grainy, barnyard, dill.
  • Score: 73/100

Notes: I’m having a bit of trouble getting past the spirit character here I think. The elements of the white dog do not seem to have been tempered much by the time in the cask. To be fair, I am not a massive fan of the whole barnyard vibe, especially when it is very heavy in a whisky. In the case of a rye whisky, which has a lot of it’s complexity in some of the delicate floral notes, it is just completely overrun by the spirit character.

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Tomodera’s Review:

  • Colour: 5YR 5/8
  • Nose: Bread, caramel, light, play dough, vitamin C tablets, green melon, coconut. It’s not a surprise that this is triple distilled. That bready note I find in Irish whiskey is here. It’s quite young. There’s a lightness to this. A little bitter. Some fruit and dry notes.
  • Taste: Caramel, coconut oil, ginger, weak orange. Little weak on the taste overall. Very young, again. Lots of dry coconut, and weak orange flavours. Not as much spice as other ryes.
  • Finish: Floral, white chocolate, ginger, potato, burnt turmeric. This has a rough taste at the end. It’s rough, earthy, and some burnt elements. There’s a start of something really tasty, and then… ouch time.
  • Score: 61/100

Conclusion: This really does try. The additional weeks really show. This has elements that are starting to develop that I’m interested in. It starts and then stops. Doesn’t last long. This needs time, patience, and has a long way to go. That said, this could be an interesting earthy, floral, and fruit notes.

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Xile_’s Review:

  • Nose: Fresh cut wood, dill, vanilla, bread, anise, floral hints
  • Taste: Caramel, brown sugar, wood, dill
  • Finish: Wood, rye bread, pepper, cinnamon, licorice
  • Score: 71/100

Fresh cut wood and dill on the nose up front, but the notes from the base spirit are right underneath and with time come back to the forefront. The taste is sweet on entry, turning woody with a big dill note on the back end. The texture is thicker than the Bassett Town. The finish adds a spiciness in place of the sweetness.

I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to get wood before in my life. The nose (to me) is greatly improved… much more manageable now, with the base spirit notes more restrained and in balance with the wood influence. The taste and finish hold the foundational notes of a basic rye. Interestingly, while the nose still remains fairly faithful, the taste and finish have seemingly taken way more of their characteristics from the wood already with only faint reminders every so often from the base spirit.

 

 

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