Classification: Blend of Straight Rye
Company: 15 Stars
Distillery: Sourced from undisclosed distilleries in Kentucky, Indiana, and Tennessee
Release Date: July 2023
Age: Blend of 6, 7, and 8 year old ryes
Color: Dark Gold
MSRP: $90 (2023)
Rich rye grain | Floral undertone | Lavender | Green apple
Cinnamon | Nougat | Honeycomb | Sweet pastry bread | Lemon
Barrel char | Dry oak | Tobacco leaf | Nutmeg
Blending 3 different aged ryes from 3 different states is a great premise, but 15 Stars First West Fine Aged Rye doesn’t quite reach its full potential.
15 Stars First West Fine Aged Rye marks the company’s first foray into rye whiskey. Blending three different aged ryes from three different states is a novel approach that I wish more rye blenders would attempt. Rye from a single distillery can often have a singular focus, and blending brings the hope that a tight flavor profile can open up and provide more depth than you typically see. But anyone who has attempted this often finds rye can be a devilish beast to completely harness to your will.
The nose opens with a strong scent of rye grain which is quickly followed by floral scents that are spearheaded by lavender. The palate switches over to cinnamon and nougat, followed by honeycomb and sweet pastry bread. It works well and offers a good amount of uniqueness compared to your baking spices or fruit-forward rye. The finish starts with a good amount of barrel char and dry oak before transitioning to tobacco leaf and nutmeg. It’s more traditional in nature that works in a general sense, but isn’t overly memorable in any way.
As other producers have found, like Barrell Bourbon has done with their Barrell Rye line, blending rye is difficult. Rarely is the end result bad in any way, but it's a steep mountain to climb to really create something with a decidedly WOW factor. That is the case with 15 Stars First West Fine Aged Rye. All of the components are there: a good age range of ryes from three different states and a palate that offers degrees of uniqueness, but the sip still doesn’t quite hit as hard as it should. Compared to 15 Stars’ other bourbon products, it is priced considerably lower which is spot on what it offers compared to the impressive showing of their bourbon line. With the skill 15 Stars has shown so far with their blended bourbon products, I hope they continue to fine-tune this release, because rye lovers are ready to embrace a blended rye that fires on all cylinders.