Frey Ranch Barrel Strength Single Barrel Rye​ Review [In Depth]

Frey Ranch Barrel Strength Single Barrel Rye

Alex author
Founder, writer
Frey Ranch Barrel Strength Rye header

Frey Ranch Single Barrel Rye​ Details

Distillery: Frey Ranch

Type & Region: Rye whiskey, Nevada, USA

Alcohol: 61.2%

Composition: 100% winter rye

Aged: Around 5 years

Color: 1.5/2.0 on the color scale (auburn, polished mahogany)

Price: $90

From the company website:

We taste through every whiskey barrel as it comes to age and specially select those that stand out with unique flavors and textures. Born with exceptional characteristics, these barrels are bottled at cask-strength for our Distiller’s Reserve collection that is available in special releases at Frey Ranch and through our online whiskey shop, as well as store-selected barrels as a premium limited release. Our Single Barrel collection has included barrel releases of four-grain, three-grain, and single grain mash bills to highlight the grains that we grow right here on Frey Ranch.

Frey Ranch Barrel Strength Single Barrel Rye overview

Frey Ranch has been growing grains for years, decades before they started to distill that grain into whiskey. As a result, they have all sorts of grains that they can use to create whiskey…or bread…or other stuff. They have their bourbon, which is a four grain blend of corn, rye, wheat, and barley; they have a single malt whiskey (more to come on that); and they have rye whiskey. At least as of this review the single malt is fairly new, but the rye is a core part of their lineup.
I mention this because Frey Ranch’s background is important. Located in Fallon, NV, in northwest Nevada closer to Sacramento, CA and Reno, Frey Ranch (the farm) has existed since 1854, but the distillery wasn’t established until 2006. And like other farms turned distilleries, that means they have home grown grains to use, and they lean into that.
This Frey Ranch Barrel Strength Single Barrel Rye, just like their bottled in bond rye, is made from a 100% winter rye mashbill that completely uses rye grown on their farm. It’s actually quite impressive. First off, I’m always down for local grains. Second, 100% rye mashbills are rare, especially for those made in America.
I hear it’s in part because rye is a pain to ferment (which is why malted barley is usually added), on top of being a pain to distill and clean. Off the top of my head, I know Whistlepig makes a 100% rye rye whiskey. There are others, but my point is that it’s not common.
I should mention that particular single barrel is a Distiller’s Reserve Private Barrel Select, coming from Barrel 1185. I’m guessing that means that it’s a special barrel selected by the master distiller, possibly for sale at the distillery. No, I didn’t venture out to Nevada to get a bottle, Frey Ranch sent the bottle and brought a little bit of Nevada to me (thank you).
There’s a bunch of interesting stuff going on here, so let’s find out if it all comes together to provide a fun experience in this Frey Ranch Barrel Strength Single Barrel Rye review.
Thank you Frey Ranch for providing this bottle. All opinions are still my own.
Frey Ranch Barrel Strength Rye side 1
q? encoding=UTF8&MarketPlace=US&ASIN=B003VAWA68&ServiceVersion=20070822&ID=AsinImage&WS=1&Format= SL250 &tag=thewhiskeyshe 20

As an FYI, I bought and use these Glencairn glasses for everything (they’re the best): Glencairn Crystal Whiskey Glass Set of 6, Set of 4Set of 2, or just one. Full transparency, this is an affiliate link, so I may earn a commission if you buy this or something else from Amazon.

Frey Ranch Barrel Strength Single Barrel Rye smell

With my first few sniffs I get dense honey, licorice, candied pineapple, freshly sliced grapefruit, darker preserved grapefruit, dill, roasted oak, clove, cherry, and some earthy pine. Frey Ranch Barrel Strength Rye smells a lot like MGP rye – very sweet, licorice-y, herbal, tropical, and vibrant, and then also has some darker sweetness.
As an added bonus, it has an interesting stickiness with solid density and syrupiness. It smells great already – I’m a big fan.
After swirling and rest, I smell rich honey, licorice, fresh and preserved grapefruit, green grapes, candied pineapple, roasted oak, cinnamon, and caraway seed with some underlying dark butterscotch and oakiness. The heat is really well controlled.
Frey Ranch Single Barrel Rye is delightful to smell. It has that wonderful rye-y sweet and herbal fruitiness that really catches my attention, with the density and layers that I want to experience. For better or worse, this is what I think of when I think of high-rye rye whiskey. I’m a really big fan of this type of mashbill, and the scents alone are expertly crafted and presented.
Frey Ranch Barrel Strength Rye side 3

Frey Ranch Barrel Strength Single Barrel Rye taste and aftertaste

At first I taste dense honey, grapefruit, licorice, candied pineapple, roasted oak, cinnamon, clove, bright cherry, dill, green grape, and some earthy caraway seed and roasted grains in the back. The bite is well controlled too.
Frey Ranch Barrel Strength Single Barrel rye is densely sweet, herbal, and fruity with a lot of what I associate with very high rye character. There’s a lot of licorice, citrus, pineapple, and dill with great richness and density, although the scents do it a little bit better and are rounder.
As flavorful and rich as Frey Ranch Single Barrel Rye is, it’s missing a certain roundness and fullness that may just come with more age. It’s not at all thin, I just hope for more.
With hard “chewing” I get dense honey, licorice, fresh and preserved grapefruit, candied pineapple, roasted oak, cinnamon, vanilla, clove, caraway seed, and oils throughout the flavors.
Thankfully, “chewing” ups the ante and pulls out more density and more of everything in general, especially the herbal and fruity sweetness. There’s also more vibrance and expressiveness, so it’s delightful and yummy. The heat doesn’t go crazy either. It’s not docile but it’s not a raging lunatic either. My recommendation though, take smaller sips so the heat doesn’t perk up too much.
The finish leaves honey, dried licorice, grapefruit peel, roasted oak, cinnamon, and caraway seed with lingering herbal and sweet oiliness. I get more of the same after “chewing”, but with even more oiliness.
Frey Ranch Barrel Strength Single Barrel rye is very delicious – well done.
Frey Ranch Barrel Strength Rye side 2

q? encoding=UTF8&ASIN=B016YPDI3A&Format= SL250 &ID=AsinImage&MarketPlace=US&ServiceVersion=20070822&WS=1&tag=thewhiskeyshe 20&language=en USir?t=thewhiskeyshe 20&language=en US&l=li3&o=1&a=B016YPDI3A

I’ve unfortunately lost some Glencairn’s while in transit, and that made me very sad. So, I wised up and bought this Glencairn Travel Case that comes also comes with 2 glasses so I don’t need to worry so much about them breaking. I think it’s great, and I think you’ll love it too.

Seriously, if you already have glasses, protect them.

Frey Ranch Barrel Strength Single Barrel Rye Rating

Top Shelf
Frey Ranch did a wonderful job with their barrel strength single barrel rye. It offers so much of what I want from rye, especially the dense and vibrant herbal sweetness and fruitiness. It is mature way beyond its years and drinks like it could be 8 years old. All ryes don’t have to be that way, but I definitely prefer them that way. There are some amazing rye whiskeys out there today, and this is another one that’s worth considering.
Speaking of big and bold herbal ryes, this feels similar to many of MGP’s ryes – in a good way because I adore a well made MGP rye. Then again, MGP’s main rye mashbill uses 95% rye while Frey Ranch uses 100%, so it’s not that different. My point is – if you already love MGP rye then I think that Frey Ranch Barrel Strength Single Barrel Rye will feel right at home and delicious.
This 5 year old rye earning a “Top Shelf” rating compels me to again provide some observations about this rye and rye whiskies in general. In my experience, rye whiskey tends to mature “faster” than bourbon does. Four years is still four years, but for some reason rye whiskey tends to develop way more character, depth, and richness than bourbon does in the same amount of time in oak, but I guess that it’s the nature of the grain and how it ages.
Frey Ranch’s 5 year old bourbon is very good, but this barrel strength rye is something entirely different and way ahead of the bourbon. At the same time, I admit that comparing a hand-picked barrel strength rye to a batched bourbon isn’t really fair, but I did it anyway. Maybe this is just confirmation bias and I’m totally wrong.
So yeah, if you like rye, then I recommend getting a bottle if you can afford it. It’s not that affordable (but not crazy expensive ehter), but it’s well worth it if it’s in your price range or you’re looking to spend a bit more on a rye. It probably makes one heck of a powerful and flavorful cocktail too.
Alex author
Meet the Author: Alex

I have far too much fun writing about whiskey and singlehandedly running The Whiskey Shelf to bring you independent, honest, and useful reviews, comparisons, and more. I’m proudly Asian American and can speak Cantonese, Mandarin, and some Japanese.

There are no sponsors, no media companies, and no nonsense. Support The Whiskey Shelf by Buying Me A Shot.
q? encoding=UTF8&MarketPlace=US&ASIN=B07GL6Z1X3&ServiceVersion=20070822&ID=AsinImage&WS=1&Format= SL250 &tag=thewhiskeyshe 20

Shattered glass really sucks, so if you’re on the move, this Glencairn-like stainless steel snifter glass should survive your travels. Full transparency, this is an Amazon affiliate link, so I may earn a commission if you buy this or something else from Amazon.

BrüMate NOS’R, Double-Wall Stainless Steel Whiskey Nosing Glass – 7oz (Matte Black)