Tuesday, February 17, 2015
Taos Lightning: 17 year old MGP Rye
Today I try two 17 year old MGP rye whiskeys bottled by KGB spirits in New Mexico under the Taos Lightning label for K&L. After being purchased by KGB, the whiskey aged for six years in Santa Fe. The 6,000 foot altitude and dry atmosphere of Santa Fe is quite a contrast to Indiana, so it will be interesting to see what they are like. Both bottles were distilled in July 1997 and bottled on October 25, 2014. They are cask strength at 45% abv.
Taos Lightning Rye Cask 15, 17 yo 45% abv ($110)
The nose immediately gives this away as MGP. Huge rye with some pickle juice. On the palate it's got strong rye with some brown sugar notes to balance it out; it even has a touch of the sandalwood notes you get in prohibition era ryes. It tastes strong for the proof. The finish is very nice burnt sugar with rye.
This is really nice stuff, certainly identifiable as MGP but more complex and balanced than younger MGPs. I would definitely say this is one of the stronger ryes on the market right now.
Taos Lightning Rye Cask 16, 17 yo, 45% abv ($110)
The nose on this one is lighter than the 15 and has some added fruit notes. I get pineapple. The palate is also lighter than the 15 and much fruitier. It has plenty of rye notes but it has banana liqueur, black tea and trails off with medicinal notes. Where 15 is strong for its abv, this one tastes weak. The finish is slightly medicinal with rye notes. This is decent but nowhere near as interesting and bold as the 15. It's a much lighter, fruitier profile.
It's always interesting to taste similarly situated barrels like these and see what kind of differences there are. These were quite different. Cask 15 was a very good, traditional MGP rye, bold and flavorful. Cask 16 had a very different, much lighter profile. For me, Cask 15 is a clear winner here; unfortunately, it appears to be sold out. I guess I have to try to get to these reviews faster.