Classification: Straight Rye
Company: Leopold Bros.
Distillery: Leopold Bros.
Release Date: June 2022
Age: 5 Years
Mashbill: 80% Abruzzi Rye, 20% Leopold Bros Floor Malt
MSRP: $250 (2022)
Based out of Colorado, Leopold Bros. is a family owned distillery run by Scott and Todd Leopold. Originally started in Ann Arbor, Michigan in 1999, the distillery was moved to Colorado in the mid-2000’s and the current distillery space they operate out of opened in 2014. The company floor malts their barley onsite, where they currently have the largest traditional floor malting room of any distillery in the United States. In order to create Three Chamber Rye, Leopold Bros. re-engineered a Three Chamber Still from old manuscripts that they found. The family owned distillery grew the heritage grain Abruzzi rye that was favored by pre-Prohibition distilleries to bring back to life a style of whiskey that hadn’t been seen in decades.
This is the second release in the Three Chamber Rye series, following last year’s release of their 4 year old bottled in bond rye. The 2022 Release is also bottled in bond, but aged a minimum of 5 years and is a single barrel variant.
The bottle being reviewed comes from barrel number 7 that was barreled on 9/18/16.
Floral and sweet notes are immediately noticeable with creamy malt, ripe white peaches and cream, light unbaked pie crust, and a sprinkling of brown sugar greeting you. Peeling back these scents reveals a combination of spices including rye spice, cinnamon spice, baking spice, and a whiff of white peppercorn. The creamy scents are nicely complemented by their spicier counterparts, resulting in one of the more unique rye noses around. It’s a delightful and captivating way to open the sip and sets a rock solid foundation for the whiskey to start off on.
Rye spice and baking spices take charge, and add in a touch of cinnamon stick spice for good measure. Sweeter notes of orange slices, vanilla, fresh cream, and sweet caramel provide a perfect counterbalance to the more prominent spice notes. While the sweet and creamy flavors still hold significant weight, it’s clear that the spicier rye notes step up and play a much more dominant role at the midpoint compared to the 2021 release. The palate nails it, delivering all the spice rye fans could ask for, while still providing a rich creamy mouthfeel that has become a Three Chamber Rye signature trait.
Spice carries over in the form of cinnamon bark and rye spice. Dry malted barley, creamy caramel, powdered vanilla, and baking chocolate appear to help add depth. As these flavors drop off, a sweet rye spice and hint of creamy malt appear and ride out a medium heat that lingers for a while. It’s a nice way to end the sip and grounds you in the fact that while this is clearly a rye, it’s not afraid to embrace creamier flavor notes along with a creamy texture to help it excel.
Three Chamber Rye is quickly becoming a defining release for the long standing Leopold Bros. Distillery. The risk the distillery took to replicate and build the old style distillation equipment that has not been seen since pre-Prohibition has clearly paid off. Additionally, while floor malting grain onsite in America is not unique to Leopold Bros. - Hillrock Estate Distillery out of Ancram, NY comes to mind - it’s exceptionally rare. All of this adds up to this year’s Three Chamber Rye edition managing yet again to offer an incredibly unique sip that is unlike other ryes in the market.
Taking aside the unique distillation method of production, what truly helps this bottled in bond rye stand out is its creamy texture. It was incredibly noticeable in the 2021 release when the whiskey was only 4 years old, and was one of the defining traits that landed it on our list of Best Rye Whiskeys of 2021. Adding an additional year of aging to the rye has tempered down both the creaminess of the mouthfeel and the cream focused flavor notes ever so slightly, while pulling forward more of the spicier rye notes. This is a rye that will make you stop and really dissect what you’re drinking, and have you think for a while what you can compare it against. It’s only after sitting with it for a long time that you realize it’s one of those whiskeys that blazes its own trail and has a flavor profile that stands in a league of its own. It may not be for everyone, but boy does this rye know how to make an impression.
There’s no getting around the fact that Three Chamber Rye sells for a premium. Both the annual summer releases and the winter holiday releases sell for $200 or more which is in the upper echelon of where you’ll see rye whiskeys reside, especially considering the age. While bourbon has skyrocketed past the $250 mark and cracked the $500 barrier more frequently in recent years, you don’t see as many ryes priced at that premium. No matter how you try to view it, laying out $250 is a lot of money for a whiskey, let alone a rye.
Yet again, this year’s Three Chamber Rye manages to offer an incredibly unique sip that is unlike other ryes in the market. With a slew of limited releases hitting the marketplace, few have been ryes this year, and fewer have been ryes that haven’t been finished in other barrel types. Three Chamber Rye is a 5 year old bottled in bond rye from a distillery that you may not find often on your local store shelves, but one that has been deeply rooted in the American distillation scene for almost 20 years now. Being a single barrel, a limited release, and a year older than last year's release, this year’s Three Chamber Rye checks all the boxes of why it could justify its price tag. However, the sip is what allows it to justify it and then some, and one that allows it to compete head to head with most limited edition American whiskeys released this year, rye or not.
The Leopold Bros. Three Chamber Rye Whiskey 2022 Release delivers a sip that manages to merge creamier flavor notes with spice, and deliver them with a creamy mouthfeel at a near perfect level.
If you’re a traditional rye lover, you may be taken aback at first by how this year’s edition of Three Chamber Rye drinks. Sure it delivers the spice that an 80% rye should, but the creamy flavors counterbalancing those spice notes combined with the overall creaminess of the mouthfeel, is completely unique. Spending time with this rye, I’m left wondering why other distilleries haven't tapped into this flavor profile space before. It’s one that is both unique and incredibly gratifying and the resulting sip leaves a lasting memory.
Being a single barrel rye, there’s going to be variation from barrel to barrel for the 2022 Release. That said, based on past Three Chamber Rye releases, my assumption is that the creamy flavor notes and creaminess of the mouthfeel is present across all barrels selected for this release. Whether that creaminess remains should the company continue to increase the age for future Three Chamber Rye releases is anyone's guess. For the time being though, the 2022 version of Three Chamber Rye, in particular barrel number 7, is another impressive release from Leopold Bros. and one that is worth the high price of admission to check out.