Classification: Rye Finished in Honey Barrel
Company: Starlight Distillery
Distillery: Starlight Distillery
Release Date: Ongoing
Age: 4.5 Years (Finished for additional 3-8 months)
Mashbill: 85% Rye, 15% Malted Barley
Color: Light Gold
MSRP: $75 (2023)
Honey | Straw | Rye grain | Lemon | Mandarin orange | Caramel
Honey | Mango | Straw | Cedar | Sweet
Hot honey | Rye spice | Hot cinnamon | Lingering heat
Honey-finished bourbons are typically one sidedly sweet, but using rye helps add an extra dimension of heat and spice.
Starlight Distillery is located on the grounds of the Huber estate. Housing Huber’s Orchard & Winery, the family began farming back in 1843 when their ancestors settled in Starlight, Indiana from Baden-Baden, Germany. Now in its 8th generation with operations handled by Ted Huber and his sons Christian and Blake, Huber estate produces a variety of crops that are grown alongside the onsite distillery that produces an assortment of brandies and whiskeys. They began distilling whiskey in 2013, and all of their products are distilled onsite.
Honey finished bourbons have certainly become the rage over the last few years. Wild Turkey perhaps inspired the trend with the re-labeling of American Honey in 2006 (originally launched in 1976), which is not a honey-finished whiskey, but one of the first flavored whiskeys and one that has honey added directly to it. Strangely though, you see very few honey-finished ryes and Starlight Distillery’s honey-finished rye hopes to remedy that deficit. By switching out the bourbon for rye, there’s a much better counter to the amount of sweetness the honey introduces. While one could counter by saying, “sweetness is exactly what I want with a honey-finished whiskey,” I’d argue they are perhaps too sweet for many bourbon enthusiasts and limit their wider appeal.
Starlight Distillery Single Barrel Rye Finished in Honey Barrels certainly packs a high amount of sweetness in its sip, but the backend of it is layered with spice and heat. It works well to balance the sip with two equally-sized extremes. Some traditionalists may still not enjoy this dramatic interplay, as it can come across as more of a high octane cocktail than sophisticated sipper. That’s not to say it doesn’t work well as a sipper, because it does, but at 108 proof, it packs a surprising amount of punch. If a whiskey that contains tasting notes of honey, mango, hot honey, and hot cinnamon sounds like a wild ride you want to take, then you can’t go wrong with Starlight Distillery Single Barrel Rye Finished in Honey Barrels.
Bottle in review is from barrel no. 22-2498-1