Rock Town Rye

Review 2017-061 «Specifics» Rye whiskey • Small Batch (Batch 7) • Distilled from 88% rye and 12% malted barley • 46.0% Alcohol • Matured for an undisclosed number of years in new 15- and 25-gallon charred oak barrels • Non-chill filtered • Natural coloured • Rock Town Distillery • Little Rock • Arkansas • U.S.A. • Widely available • Difficult to find (price ±€58) • Whiskybase #100252

STORY. Rock Town Distillery is the first legal distillery in the mid-western state of Arkansas since prohibition and was founded by Phil Brandon in 2010. They use only Arkansas grain from within 125 miles of the distillery to produce multiple spirits including bourbon, rye, hickory smoked bourbon, rum, vodka and others. Their rye was highly recommended with a score of 95.5/100 in Jim Murray’s 2017 Whisky Bible and has won a gold medal at the 2016 San Fransisco World Spirits Competition. From batch 12 on they have altered the recipe of their rye from 88% rye and 12% malted barley to 52% rye, 38% corn and 10% malted barley. We will still have the old recipe in this review, but it would be interesting to compare the two. The age of their rye is undisclosed, but most likely still very young.


APPEARANCE. From simple to stylish and cool design (they’ve changed it recently), colour of the contents is amber and is most likely has retained its natural colour.

NOSE. This is fragrant, surprisingly floral, slightly sweet, and also slightly chemical, in a nice way. Spicy, candied cherries, fructose, lychees, and hints of lilies, basil and citrus fruits. I also get lavender, lots of green grass, butter cups, and  a hint of rye bread. It smells quite young, but on the other side very close to the rye grain. (water) Not really needed.

TASTE. The palate start quite soft, probably even shy and subtle, with slightly bitter notes of grapefruit parts, rocket salad with some edible flowers including lavender. Again I find a slightly chemical note, which I cannot really pin down. (water) Oh yes, now it opens up! There are citrus fruits, in particular lime, more lavender. It is beautiful and fresh. Then oranges appear along with green grass, strawberry soda, a hint of salted caramel, and sour dough in the background It is slightly buttery.

VERDICT. This is very interesting and fun to try. The nose is very nice, but the palate definitely needs water to shine, so better to nose it first then add water and taste it. However, it seems to me that it not fully matured and integrated, some sweeter notes would probably benefit both the nose and palate. Maybe, the people at Rock Town Distillery have also noticed it, and consequently lowered the rye and add some corn to the mash bill. I am very curious to try the new version this rye (when I can get a sample of it, that is).

Recommended for curious explorers of what varieties in taste rye can offer.

Thanks to Norbert for the sample!

«What others say»

  • @Whiskybase: Mean score of [no score yet]
  • @Thewhiskeywash: “[The rye] is decent, but nothing to write home about” Score: 83/100
  • @Diffordsguide: score 4.5/5
  • @Tomswhiskyreview: “I’m usually not a huge fan of Rye Whiskeys but this is really interested, not as spicy as some, lots of “green” notes, herby and green twigs, it’s tasty stuff too and one i really really enjoyed”
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