One Eight Distilling Untitled Whiskey No. 18 review
One Eight Distilling Untitled Whiskey No. 18
Distillery: One Eight Distilling
Type & Region: Whiskey, USA
Composition: Blend of rye whiskey and high rye bourbon
Aged: Blend of 2 year old rye and 14 year old bourbon
From the One Eight website:
“For Untitled Whiskey No. 18, and the first time in the UNTITLED Series, we blended our straight District Made Rye Whiskey with a barrel of the finest 14-year-old high-rye bourbon selected from our rickhouse and bottled at barrel strength to preserve its complexity of flavor.
The nose on this whiskey leads to notes of rock candy and grapefruit peel. Upon sipping, the complex, earthy notes of leather and walnuts are readily apparent, followed by fruity notes of cherry cola and molasses. The finish is long and warming with hints of rose, cedar and black licorice.”
One Eight Distilling Untitled Whiskey No. 18 overview
One Eight Distilling Untitled Whiskey No. 18 is a blend of One Eight’s homemade District Made Rye that was aged for 2 years in 25 gallon barrels, and sourced 14 year old bourbon (probably from MGP). While not necessarily One Eight’s goal, this reminds me of High West’s Bourye and Wild Turkey Forgiven, both bourbon and rye blends. Untitled No. 18 is also unique in that it’s the first Untitled release to not be finished, include whiskey distilled by One Eight, and one of the few that are cask strength – always exciting.
Since my purchase came with a tasting kit of the two individual components of the blend, I’ll be intermittently including my thoughts about those parts to hopefully tell the whole story as I smell and taste the final blend. If you’re curious, you can also read my separate in-depth reviews of the District Made 2 year old cask strength rye and the 14 year old single barrel cask strength bourbon. I’ve been eagerly anticipating this whiskey ever since I pre-ordered it, so let’s find out if this blending experiment was successful in this One Eight Distilling Untitled Whiskey No. 18 review.
One Eight Distilling Untitled Whiskey No. 18 smell
The rye in One Eight Untitled Whiskey No. 18 comes sprinting of the gate with rich honey, blood orange, licorice, anise, pine, gin botanicals, mint, eucalyptus, and hints of youthful grain. It has a thick, nearly syrupy and jammy, sweetness and fruitiness, and is also very herbal and botanical. The youthful soggy oak note in the rye is tempered by the 14 year old bourbon’s dark, musty, and burnt oaky heat that packs quite the kick. So far, the District Made Rye leads the way, but the oakiness from the bourbon isn’t far behind.
After swirling and letting it settle, Untitled No. 18 has a dense and rich nose from the rye, less herbal than 95/5 MGP rye and more vegetal, citrusy, and botanical with pine, juniper, dried citrus peel, eucalyptus, and other gin botanicals that may come from the accelerated aging in the 25 gallon barrels. It also still has the awesome rich honey and orange notes with some malted grain. The 14 year old bourbon provides an overarching, dark, and brooding background base of heavily burnt oak and heat waiting to be unleashed. As a whole, the nose is very pleasant and promising, but having reviewed both individual components, I know that it’s predominately from the rye (because it’s fantastic).
One Eight Distilling Untitled Whiskey No. 18 taste & aftertaste
Untitled Whiskey No. 18’s flavors are rye-forward with honey, licorice, citrus, cherry, pine, and gin botanicals. The rye still brings a lot of jammy sweetness to start, but the bourbon now brings a heavy dark, bitter, and roasted oak that cuts through a lot more in the flavors with some heavily burnt cinnamon, coffee grounds, and bread. It’s a strange juxtaposition of bright, rich, and fruity rye and the dark, burnt, and tannic bourbon. The heat isn’t crazy though, so that’s a good start.
With “chewing” the flavors are packed with sweet honey, citrus, vanilla, licorice, juniper, pine, and toasted rye bread at first, quickly followed by a rush of tannic oak, roasted coffee grounds, and cinnamon. I swear I’m not sensitive to tannic oak, but there’s too much of it here. The rye part is still very rich and delicious, but the bourbon is too present and tannic, washing out some of the rye and hurting the balance between the rye and bourbon. There’s this noticeable and disjointed back and forth between the rye and bourbon that takes me out of truly enjoying this.
On the finish, there’s a blend of honey, citrus, and licorice from the rye and more prominent heavily charred oak from the bourbon. The finish is very tannic at first, but as it subsides after a few minutes, the rye’s wonderful blood orange flavors reappear. After “chewing” the finish is again very tannic with a little honey and licorice sweetness. The tannic notes hold-on for a while, but as they start to relax after a minute, the beautiful honey, citrus, and licorice notes come back. The finish ends on a high with the rye because it’s the best part of this whiskey.
Place on the Whiskey Shelf
As a whole, Untitled Whiskey No. 18 is a good whiskey – often fragrant, flavorful, rich, and intense, but it has some noticeable flaws that I find problematic but not deal-breaking. The 2 year old District Made Rye is the undeniable star of the show, densely sweet, citrusy, herbal, and botanical, but the 14 year old bourbon distracts me from what is great about this whiskey. The 14 year old bourbon straddles the line and sometimes dips into being overoaked and overly tannic, hurting the overall balance. It’s especially clear in the flavors and finish that the rye and bourbon are constantly battling each other to be tasted; I either taste the sweet, herbal, and fruity rye, or the dark and tannic bourbon with not much in between.
If my math is correct, the bourbon makes up about 38% of the blend. I think there should have been less bourbon, maybe 15-20% of the blend, to further amplify the great rye and tone-down the heavily burnt and tannic bourbon. Ironically when I first pre-ordered this, I remember thinking, “I’m concerned that the rye is going to ruin the blend,” only to be pleasantly wrong. One Eight Distilling Untitled Whiskey No. 18 is certainly an interesting blending experiment, and while it’s certainly not a failure, it’s also not the success I hoped it would be like Untitled No. 13 and Untitled No. 9 “Antoinette” Single Barrel.