one eight 5 year single barrel cask strength rye review

One Eight District Made 5 Year Single Barrel Cask Strength Rye

One Eight 5 year single barrel rye

Distillery: One Eight Distilling

Type & Region: Rye, DC, USA

Alcohol: 66.1%

Composition: 57% Virginia rye, 29% North Carolina malted rye, and 14% Maryland corn

Aged: 5 years 186 daysin virgin American white oak

Color: 1.42.0 on the color scale (russet muscat)

Price: $70

From the One Eight website:

“This first release District Made Single Barrel Rye Whiskey…was distilled grain-to-glass, barreled at 124.5 proof, and aged over five-and-half years in new American oak. It emerged from the barrel at a powerful yet smooth 132.2 proof. It is the first cask strength single barrel rye whiskey distilled and bottled in Washington, D.C., and the oldest whiskey yet released in One Eight Distilling’s District Made grain-to-glass portfolio.”

Company Website

one eight 5 year single barrel cask strength rye overview

In late 2020, One Eight Distilling, a DC-based distillery, released their second-ever limited-edition rye: a 5 year and 186 day old single barrel cask strength rye aged in 53 gallon barrels, and one of their oldest homemade whiskeys to date. This cask strength rye is unique as it’s made completely from mid-Atlantic-sourced grains, has a unique blend of ryes, and is aged in the DC area. As a limited-edition single barrel release, less than 200 bottles were ever produced and is currently sold-out…helpful I know.

 

I’ve reviewed a number of One Eight’s Untitled-branded whiskeys, which fully or partially utilize sourced whiskey, but their District Made line is completely distilled and bottled in DC. Given how small DC is, One Eight is one of only a few whiskey distillers in DC proper, and the best known one in the area (Joseph Magnus moved to Michigan so they don’t count any longer). This is my first time really taking time to get to know their homemade whiskey, so let’s get acquainted in this One Eight District Made Single Barrel Cask Strength Rye review. 

one eight 5 year single barrel cask strength rye smell

One Eight 5 Year Single Barrel Rye is interesting off the bat – tons of eucalyptus, blood orange, fennel, honey, licorice, candied pineapple, and orange peel followed by slightly damp oak, cinnamon, and rosemary. The eucalyptus-forward personality is unique from what MGP, Buffalo Trace, Heaven Hill, Old Forester, and others offer. I’m pretty sure few, if any others, use those Virginia and North Carolina ryes that makes up 86% of the mash. The 66.1% ABV is thankfully pretty calm after 40 minutes of air-time.

 

After swirling there’s still a lot of eucalyptus with a little more dark honey, licorice, blood orange, rosemary, dried dill, and candied pineapple followed by less charred oak, cinnamon, clove, and toasted marshmallow. This is probably going to sound strange, but One Eight 5 Year Cask Strength Single Barrel Rye is outrageously herbal like an all-natural Vick’s Vapo rub with a candied fruit and oaky side as well. This is not licorice and dill forward like MGP ryes are, and I can see this being very polarizing, even for rye whiskey lovers such as myself. Regardless, this rye has fragrant, lively, and interesting scents that definitely keep me paying attention. 

one eight 5 year single barrel cask strength rye taste & aftertaste

One Eight 5 Year Single Barrel Rye is crammed with sweet eucalyptus, honey, licorice, blood orange, lightly bitter roasted oak, cinnamon, rosemary, and thyme. Now the 66% ABV heat kicks-in, and it’s a little intense, but not quite overpowering. “Chewing” releases more eucalyptus, honey, dark licorice, blood orange, fennel, rosemary, lightly burnt rye bread coated in caraway seed, roasted oak, and cinnamon. With extra time, I’m noticing the oily mouthfeel mixed-in with everything. There’s not a ton of wood spices (cinnamon, clove, nutmeg), more dominated by the herbal licorice and fennel with earthy rosemary and thyme. The heat continues to provide a solid punch, so be prepared for that.

 

Eucalyptus continues into the finish with honey, lightly burnt crackers, licorice, fennel, and a spritz of orange. The eucalyptus keeps going for minutes after that. “Chewing” leaves a little more alcohol tingle and otherwise is unchanged. 

 

All in all, the flavors are fairly rich but feel straightforward and kind of blunt. It’s not boring, but doesn’t quite hold my attention as well as their blood orange-forward 2 year old cask strength rye that was blended into Untitled No. 18. A little extra citrus zing would have likely taken this over the edge to “Top Shelf”. Still, this is one of the better ryes I’ve had recently, far surpassing Wild Turkey Rare Breed Rye, which wasn’t that interesting.

Place on the Whiskey Shelf

Mid shelf+

One Eight 5 Year Cask Strength Single Barrel Rye is so eucalyptus-forward that it’s a little tough for me to properly evaluate. It’s a unique twist, but I’m unsure how much I like, although I don’t dislike it either. In my experience, eucalyptus is often a secondary trait for rye, and only in this rye is it the star. Regardless, that mix of herbal eucalyptus, darker licorice, and fennel, earthier rosemary and thyme, and fruity blood orange and pineapple shows-off the depth of a good rye whiskey. The earthiness reminds me a bit of the Old Forester Single Barrel Barrel Strength Bourbon (yes bourbon) I previously reviewed. I wish the orange notes were stronger, because that would have made a huge difference in balancing out some of the intense eucalyptus.

 

All in all, I’m glad to have tried this rye and I think it’s a success. Just like any craft whiskey from a growing distillery, every release builds on itself as stocks mature, various mash bills are tested, and the distillery develops overall, so I’m extremely optimistic about what is still to come. Keep ‘em coming One Eight because I want more.

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