Tuesday, February 21, 2012

WTF is OMG Rye?

One of Utah based High West Distillery's latest offerings is OMG Rye, or Old Monongahela Rye. Unlike many of High West's offerings of sourced whiskeys, the OMG is an unaged spirit that they distilled themselves in Utah.

OMG Rye is High West's attempt to recreate the Western Pennsylvania style of whiskey. In the style of those Old Monongahela ryes, it is made from a mash of 80% unmalted rye and 20% malted rye. It is a vatting of whiskeys made with three different yeasts.

Now I very rarely write up unaged whiskeys because, well, I don't like them. However, given that I was recently able to sample an actual Old Monongahela Rye, I was curious as to how the High West version would compare and whether there would be discernible similarities.

High West Silver OMG Pure Rye, 49.3% abv ($37)

Nosing it...well, it's new make. There is that undeniable smell of the still before the barrel has had a chance to do its magic; behind the initial surge are some grainy notes. On the palate it's quite sweet, again very typical for new make but not what I would have expected in a 100% rye. Once the initial sweetness fades, there is some graininess on the palate. The finish is fairly short but it's the only place where I really pick up much in the way of rye in the form of a faint spiciness left on the tongue. It's in that last bit of the finish that I get something in common with the Large Old Monongahela that I reviewed last week, a sort of dry spiciness.

Well, I never recommend new make to anyone, but High West has put some of this in barrels to age. I'll be interested to see how it develops.

1 comment:

Little Teapot said...

Holy crap I just found my way to this stuff. What ended up as a long on going over the years search for richer full bodied style european vodkas here in the states, ended up with a weird but sensical recommendation yesterday at a shop to try the OMG Rye. I scoffed at the thought of buying "moonshine" (who likes to ride the fad wagon with everybody else?) and the price, but the reasonings had me give in, mostly due to the exasperation that, outside of markets of international influence, most vodka and a lot of spirits here are praised for being "smooth" and characterless, and short of flying straight to poland to find the rich rye vodkas I'm looking for, I could be searching fruitlessly for many more years.

Because fundamentally, vodka and unaged whiskey are essentially the same products, give and take ingredients, filtration/processing, and marketing gimmicks; so the idea that an unaged, unfiltered whiskey could be an interesting development, but not replace what I'd been looking for. Boy was it a hot recommendation. I have never experienced anything like this stuff. It was so beyond full flavored(for a white spirit) that I swear I could have been tasting botanicals as if it were a huge rich gin (bombay comes to mind but this was even richer)!

For someone who doesn't prefer whiter spirits I can understand the lack of appeal or excitement in the market that isn't the corner of swayable young and old adults who, with romantic notions sit around campfires with country swill (or that want to taste nothing but fruit, sugar, and booze in their party cocktail). But for someone like me who has peculiar tastes, developed issues with tasting oak in aged spirits, and is always looking out for the unusual, OMG Rye was an incredible find. I wont be aging mine, but I'm currently sitting on a couple jars of OMG with juniper and different spices to see if I can play on that gin characteristic I found.