Classification: Straight Rye Finished in Rum Casks
Company: Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits
Release Date: March 2020
Age: NAS (Said to have been finished for a minimum of 3 months in Plantation rum barrels)
Mashbill: 95% Rye, 5% Malted Barley
Color: Golden Straw
Price: $35 (2020)
Cask finishing with rum isn’t necessarily a new thing for Irish whiskey or Scotch, but for American whiskeys, it’s still in its infancy compared to the number of producers utilizing wine for finishing. I reviewed two products last year that eschewed finishing for direct blending of rum into their base whiskey. Fortuitous Union was rye-based, and the other, Brixton Mash Destroyer was bourbon-based. Out of the two, Fortuitous Union worked better, as its rye characteristics blended well with the rum’s sweetness. Unlike those aforementioned whiskeys, Redemption utilizes a rum cask finish much like Angel’s Envy Rye does. Because rum is such a strong and unique tasting spirit, producers have had a harder time harnessing it in American whiskey. For all the praise Angel’s Envy Rye has received, it still remains one of the only true highlights of the technique, and even then, is considered polarizing to many whiskey drinkers.
The aroma is pretty much what you’d expect: rye spice and cinnamon, mingled with sweet molasses, vanilla, and oak. It’s pleasant as it gently swells from the glass. The scents work well together, but the aroma will make you do a double take. As familiar as the scents come across at first, you’ll get a sudden injection of rum that transforms it into something weirdly unexpected.
A heavy dose of rye spice greets you, which transitions into a mishmash of traditional rye and rum flavors of spice, cinnamon, molasses, and brown sugar. That’s not to say the overall flavor is bad per say, but it's hard to taste individual flavors here. In a way this makes it come across as more of a simple pre-mixed cocktail. It’s enjoyable to drink, as long as you don’t expect much.
This is where the rum influence really rears its head. There’s a noticeable ramp up of sweetness, but it's surprisingly fleeting. It provides an interesting contrast to the rye notes found in the palate, but unfortunately transitions into an off-tasting, vinegary, and ethanol affair. It thankfully quickly dissipates, leaving an enjoyable, albeit mild, molasses aftertaste.
Overall Redemption Rye Rum Cask Finish is an easy drinker, and I’m sure plenty of people will find joy in drinking it. Its finish is flawed, and where some will be willing to overlook it, for others, it will be a dealbreaker. If you want to treat this as a pre-mixed cocktail as its palate suggests, the whiskey’s 94 proof can be problematic. Adding some water or even club soda does help cut its proof and transform it into a decent pseudo-cocktail, but there is a razor thin line where if you add too much water it loses all of its character. At $35, it’s priced on the low side for a finished whiskey, but its flaws keep it from being a recommended purchase. There are still some kinks to be worked out here. While its mellow rum influence might be more palatable to drinkers, it can’t compete with Angel’s Envy’s Rye complexity.
Utilizing rum as a blending or finishing agent is interesting, but I’m not sure if anyone has completely cracked it yet in the American whiskey-sphere. It still has to be proven if rum is as complementary to whiskey as wine is when it comes to finishing, but the potential is there.