Classification: Blend of Rye and Rum Finished in Rye Barrels
Company: Rolling Fork Spirits
Distillery: Sourced from MGP, Foursquare, and undisclosed rum distilleries in Jamaica and Dominican Republic
Release Date: February 2023
Mashbill: 85% Rum (Blend of Foursquare Distillery, Undisclosed Jamaican & Dominican Republic Rum), 15% MGP Rye (95% Rye, 5% Malted Barley)
Color: Rusty Gold
MSRP: $55 (2023)
Rye spice | Burnt orange rind | Foursquare rum | Orange marmalade | Lemon
Tangerine | Orange chocolate | Rye spice | Herbal
Dry rye spice | Burnt sugar | Cinnamon spice | Quick flavor fall off | Lingering Foursquare aftertaste
Rolling Fork Spirits proved with their inaugural release that blending rum and rye works, but adding a rye barrel finish for their followup release is perhaps pushing the line too far.
Jordan Morris and Turner Wathen set out on a journey to bring unadulterated rums to the American market. Once imported, they barrel finish them in used sherry or bourbon casks to add their own fingerprint. They had just spent six months finishing a 12 year old rum from Trinidad in bourbon casks when a warehouse worker transferring it to a steel tank, didn’t realize the tank still contained 5 year old MGP rye whiskey. This fortuitous union of rum and rye resulted in a product the friends never planned on, but that they are now shaping their company around.
That was the story for Batch 001, and Rolling Fork Spirits decided to purposely blend rum and rye for Batch 002. For their latest release, the team sourced Foursquare rum and two other undisclosed Jamaican & Dominican Republic rums. Anyone that has the pleasure of sipping Foursquare Rum knows how distinct its flavors are. We’re told the majority of the 85% rum in this union is Foursquare rum and it’s pretty easy to figure out after one sip.
But that is where some of my issues with this batch lies. As great as Foursquare rum is, it's potent and potentially polarizing, and it completely dominates Batch 002’s sip. Rolling Fork Spirits is also taking Batch 002 a step further and releasing four variations with each having its own unique finish. This particular release features a Thomas H. Handy finish, which is a high octane rye that is released as part of Buffalo Trace’s annual Antique Collection. The theory is sound: counter some of the potent Foursquare rum flavors with some potent Thomas H. Handy rye flavors. The result though is decidedly mixed. Instead of brotherly love, we get two heavyweight champions duking it out and the end result comes across as messy. This release is a good reminder that not all creative ideas work out as well as you’d hope. It makes sense on paper as the rum and rye interplay in Batch 001 worked really well. Perhaps increasing the rum percentage from 60% to 85% is the culprit, but it's more than likely Foursquare and Thomas H. Handy just aren’t meant to be best friends.