Classification: Straight Rye
Company: Latitude Beverage/Ocean State Distillers
Distillery: O.Z. Tyler Distillery
Release Date: December 2019 (Ongoing release)
Age: 2 Years (Website states up to 3 years)
Mashbill: 95% Rye, 5% Malted Barley
Color: Golden Straw
Price: $28 (2020)
Wheel Horse Rye is distilled at the historic O.Z. Tyler Distillery in Owensboro, Kentucky. Erected in 1885, the site has been the home of many contract distillers including in recent times, Ezra Brooks, Mellow Corn, and Old Medley.
Since inception, O.Z. Tyler Distillery has been through tumultuous times, and has been closed for many years. In 2014, Ron Call, a veteran master distiller with 40 years of experience at Jim Beam and Florida Caribbean Distillers, bought the property and began to revitalize the distillery. In 2016, a newly restored O.Z. Tyler opened, and Ron’s son Jacob took over distilling duties. Wheel Horse Rye is the distillery’s first aged rye whiskey and the inaugural whiskey from the Wheel Horse brand.
An affable aroma flows from the glass emitting scents of straw, popcorn, peach, and pepper. This makes an enjoyable first impression. A quick swirl of the glass brings forward additional notes of rye spice and mild cinnamon that nicely balances the initial scents.
A sweet and spicy fusion of cinnamon sugar and rye spice with faint drafts of cocoa and cinnamon bark. It’s a straightforward flavor profile at first, but the contrasting sweet and spice quickly becomes its most notable element and turns the palate into quite the enjoyable sipper.
Much more grain-forward on the finish, yet it's not so much as a youthful grain taste, as more of a focus on its barley and rye grain components. Its oak influence is on the lighter side, which allows the grains to be highlighted moreso. It’s unique tasting and not what you’d expect.
A lot of people will probably see Wheel Horse Rye and think of it as yet another young rye whiskey from an upstart distillery. While that is true, Wheel Horse Rye has a few things that make it stand out, most notably its price.
Craft whiskey is often expensive and in some cases overpriced for what it is. Wheel Horse Rye bucks this by offering an easy-sipping rye that, while its finish may not be for everyone, is unique tasting, and it’s only $28. There aren't as many whiskeys in this price range as there used to be, and its surprising a new entry is from an upstart distillery. The Wheel Horse brand is making a bold statement releasing this at $28.
But to be frank, I wasn’t blown away by this the first time I had it. It's straightforward and the finish comes out of left field at first sip. But the more I dissected its palate and finish, the more I noticed its sweetness and drinkability, and I came to understand its finish more. There is no denying it's another young whiskey on the market, but at $28, and from a pure drinkability standpoint, it works.
The sample used for this review was provided at no cost courtesy of Latitude Beverage. We thank them for allowing us to review it with no strings attached.