OurWhisky Virtual Festival 2021 – ‘The Ryesing Tide‘
Launched in 2020 the OurWhisky Virtual Festival aims to bring together whisky lovers and makers in an inclusive and accessible way. The 2021 festival builds on the work from 2020, with five distinct tastings sessions – each with their own sampling kit.
We opted for ‘The Ryesing Tide’ and ‘Wonka Vision’ although it definitely was exceptionally hard to pick just two, given the fantastic range available. Other sets include ‘Who Run the World’ ‘Club Tropicana’ and ‘New Kids on the Block’.
How it Works …
Run live over Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter – each session is hosted by Becky and filled with guest speakers and surprises. Although you know the theme of the box beforehand, you don’t actually find out the specifics of each dram until the evening – very suspenseful! We really enjoyed this mystery element of the festival, as it helped us to put away pre-conceived notions of the drams, and enjoy them in their full.
As the sessions are hosted live it is a great opportunity to ask whisky makers questions, and share your tasting notes with other participants. Becky also makes it possible to ask questions anonymously via instagram DMs which I think is a lovely touch.
The Ryeside Tide
13 May: The Ryesing Tide
Move over America – there’s a new wave of innovative distillers around the world making rye whisky, and they’re pretty damn good at it too. Discover a new side to this trendy whisky style.
We were drawn to this session as we’ve not had much previous experience with Rye whisky, and found the non-American focus intriguing. Although the drams are numbered one through five, we tasted them out of order. The notes below follow the running order of the evening.
Rye Whiskey, Woodford Reserve – 45.2%
Although the speaker for this dram was unable to join us, Becky did a fantastic job of walking us through what makes a Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey. Namely at least 51% rye in the mash, and matured in new American Oak barrels for two years (as well as being made in Kentucky!). This particular dram is 53% rye which is unusually low.
Nose: spicy, vanilla, fresh, creamy, fudge, buttery, like freshly rained on cut grass
Palate: sweet, lots of vanilla, slight hints of menthol, feels really fresh
Finish: oily and rich, coats the mouth really nice
This was the sixth mystery dram that arrived in the box! A great dram to start the evening with.
London Rye, East London Liquer Company – 47.2%
This is the third rye to be released by the ELLC. A relatively new distiller, working with a double pot and column installation. With grain sourced from Norfolk, and distilled in London – this particular dram has been aged in four casks. Virgin French oak, STR sherry, bourbon, and chestnut.
Nose: really interesting nose, smells like what I think the colour green smells like, cocopops and milk, menthol, vanilla, fresh grass
Palate: creamy, fresh, vanilla pods, fresh air, berry fruits, dark chocolate, delicate spice on the top of the tongue, fresh green coffee
Finish: sweetness and vanilla develop, stewed stone fruits, lovely long finish, dried fruits on the end, dried fruits in creamy porridge with coco powder on top
The choice of chestnut cask gives off some really interesting fresh coffee and chocolate notes. This whisky is screaming out to be a breakfast whisky (if you’re ever feeling THAT indulgent!). A perfect drink to have next to an open fire.
Danish Rye Whisky, Stauning – 48%
Using their own floor maltings, this Danish Rye Whisky is made up of about 70% rye and 30% barley. Roughly four years old, aged in virgin American oak casks.
Nose: leather, hints of TCP, muddy fields just after rain (in a really nice way!), smells dark, moody, and stormy, lots of toasted nuts
Palate: hay and dried grass, orange oil, well done toast with salted butter. Reminds me of a lunch my Finnish house-mate used to make at university – toasted rye bread! Warm spices, dark chocolate and malty biscuits at the back of the mouth
Finish: oily but fresh – takes me back to walking through wet fields on the way home from school
Of all the whiskies we tried, this one bought back the most evocative memories of childhood and university. A very interesting dram, and one I will keep my eye open for in bars in the future.
Highland Rye 1794, Arbikie – 48%
The forth release, this is made up of roughly 40% rye, 40% barley, and 20% wheat. Aged for three years in medium char American oak, they also use toasted barrels to get vanilla notes and enhance the colour.
Nose: like carpet stores, stone fruits, grassy, green apples, vanilla, polish
Palate: hay, dried grass, fresh, vanilla, very creamy, buttery toast, green apples and orchard fruits, hints of darker fruits too
Finish: blackberry jam on salted butter toast, creamy silky texture
Oxford Rye, Oxford Artisan Distillery – 46.3%
A recent launch that has now fully sold-out so we were very lucky to get to try this dram! The Oxford Artisan Distillery grow their own grains and like to play around with different heritage varieties. This particular expression was been matured in new American oak casks.
Nose: banana, black pepper, key-lime pie, leather, buttery biscuit base
Palate: very fresh and creamy, LOTS of lime, starts of a bit florally but then gives way to creamy butter and sugar – like the beginning of a cake mix
Finish: creamy and vanilla, brown sugar, light floral notes at the end. Lovely oily mouth feels, really coats the mouth
I love the story with this whisky, and the level of experimentation that starts at the grain growing level. A shame to miss out on buying a bottle, but feel very lucky to have tried a dram regardless. Will be keeping a look out for their future releases.
Full Proof, Stork Club – 55% ABV
Germany’s first 100% rye distillery, they use all locally grown rye. Their name comes from the 200+ pairs of storks that build their nest there every year – very cute! This particular dram is a mixture of virgin American oak and virgin German napolean oak, ex-oloroso barrels, and ex-sweet wine barrels
Nose: vanilla, nutty, creamy, brown sugar, hazelnuts, dry spice, walnuts, apricots, dried red fruits
Palate: brown sugar, lovely sweetness, honey, fudge, stone fruits, red berries, oak pepperiness, nutty loveliness
Finish: spice grows, lovely and warming, a rich mouth feel
This was my favourite whisky of the evening! I suspect we will be purchasing a bottle of this, if we can find one. A very lovely experience all around, with some interesting fruity notes to pair with the deeper, darker rye.
This was a wonderful evening. Expertly hosted by Becky – the chemistry between the speakers and the host was clear to see. As well as the obvious love for their individual products, and rye whiskies on the whole.
We’re really looking forward to rounding off the OurWhisky Virtual Festival with ‘Wonka Vision’ later this week. Let us know in the comments below if you have attended any of their sessions, and please do share your tasting notes/reviews!