The demand for ultra-aged premium American Whiskies has given new life to an old project, the American Light Whiskey category. Originally a response to changing American tastes in the 1960’s for vodka and gin cocktails, this category has gained a new role as a high proof cask strength sipper when aged for ten years or longer. Barrell and Old Carter have released a good bit of ultra aged Light Whiskey, and now Phenomenal Spirits of Virginia has released a 14 year old Light Whiskey. Phenomenal’s Ry3 is a blend of three MGP rye whiskies finished in Ron Izalco barrels, which Phenomenal markets in the United States. I have tried Ron Izalco 15 year old, and it is amazing, particularly for its lack of fusel oils, which gives rum its medicinal taste. Ron Izalco 15 drinks more like a whiskey and is very delicious.
This 14 year old Light whiskey is a single barrel picked for Mystic Vine, their Louisiana distributor that has common ownership with Hokus Pokus. The mashbill for this is 95% corn and 5% malted barley. This is a bruising 125.6 proof, but this is a typical proof for the category. This bottle cost $80, which is much less than other ultra aged Light whiskey releases.
The color is a nice straw amber, similar to scotch and correct for the category. On the nose are candied fruits, cinnamon, and baked goods. On the palate is the wonderful peach cobbler notes I typically find on Light whiskey, but it is as if the peaches were roasted before being put in the cobbler, giving the whiskey a nice smokey note, and the cinnamon notes are really accentuated. Really nice viscous mouthfeel. On the finish, the peach cobbler fades into cloves and candied peaches that lingers and lingers.
I love this whiskey. For the American Light category, it really has a wonderfully deep flavor profile. This will definitely be my post-Thanksgiving feast whiskey with a cigar this year. I am sure in the meantime I will keep sipping on this and will need another bottle by then. But that is also what is really good about the RY3 release – the price point. Most releases of American Light in the 13 or 14 year old age range at cask strength are $120 to $150. At $80 this is a very good deal. For someone that has been intrigued with high proof ultra aged Light whiskey but has been intimidated by the price point, this bottling is definitely for you.