May 2017: Kansas City Whiskey

J. Rieger Monogram
J. Rieger Monogram

Host: Josh Cary

Kansas City has continued to put their mark on whiskey (especially in the plain states) over the last few years with new distilleries and expressions popping up at least a couple times per year.

Cocktail: Pendergast 2.0

– 1 1/2 Ounces J. Rieger & Co. Kansas City Whiskey

– 3 Ounces Dolin Sweet Vermouth

– 1 1/2 Ounces Benedictine

– 3 to 4 Dashes Angostura Bitters

Combine in mixing glass and stir over ice. Strain into a chilled rocks glass without ice. Garnish with lemon zest.

Bottle One: Restless Spirits Sons of Erin Irish Whiskey

Distillery: Great Northern Distillery, Ireland

Proof: 92

Mash Bill: Unknown

Age: 4 years

Price: $36

Purchase Location: Central Wine & Spirits

Tasting Notes:

Nose:  Dusty Cotton and young oak.

Palate: Tangy butter and cherry licorice.

Finish: Bitter and dry, like the finish on Campari.

Overall:  A traditional Irish Whiskey; unoffensive; a nice soft nose and palate; the finish was dryer than we had hoped.

Why This Bottle Is Featured: Restless Spirits is one of the newer Kansas City distilleries, with gin and vodka being their original distilled spirits.

This whiskey is not actually distilled in Kansas City, but is instead an imported Irish Whiskey that has been aged four years. The whiskey is distilled by Great Northern Distillery in Ireland, which was built on the site of the Harp Lager Brewery in Dundalk, Co. Louth. Sons of Erin is re-barreled into freshly emptied Breckenridge Bourbon barrels for a short finish.

Bottle Two: Restless Spirits Stone Breaker Whiskey

Distillery: Great Northern Distillery, Ireland & Restless Spirits Distillery, Kansas City

Proof: 92

Mash Bill: Unknown

Age: 4 year old Irish/unknown age malt whiskey

Price: $38

Purchase Location: Central Wine & Spirits

Tasting Notes:

Nose: Wet dog; earthy.

Palate: Citrus and salty butter; earthy; heavier mouthfeel.

Finish: Longer than the Sons of Erin, but still short to medium; not nearly as bitter or dry.

Overall:  Pleasant; a heavier version of an Irish Whiskey with interesting earthiness from nose to finish.

Why This Bottle Is Featured: Stone Breaker is a mix of the four year old imported Irish Whiskey found in Sons of Erin with a mix of Restless Spirits own malt whiskey which has been twice distilled in traditional pot stills.

Bottle Three: Union Horse Distillery Bourbon

Distillery: Union Horse Distillery

Proof: 92

Mash Bill: 80% corn, 20% rye

Age: 2 years

Price: $48

Purchase Location: Central Wine & Spirits

Tasting Notes: 

Nose: Musty oak; red grapes, apricot and other stone fruit.

Palate: Rich; caramel and baking spices.

Finish: Dry and grainy; short; a pepper spice.

Overall:  A nice, young craft bourbon.  The nose indicated age beyond its actual 2 years in the barrel.  The finish is its only criticism.

Why This Bottle Is Featured: Union Horse (formally Dark Horse Distillery) has been around since 2010 and has been putting out some great spirits for the last seven years. They have made a name for themselves in the Midwest for putting out some fantastic drinks, with their bourbon and rye both getting a lot of respect from whiskey lovers.

Bottle Four: Tom’s Town Distilling Co. Pendergast’s Royal Gold

Distillery: MGP, Indiana

Proof: 90

Mash Bill: Unknown

Age: NAS

Price: $56

Purchase Location: Central Wine & Spirits

Tasting Notes:

Nose: Sour oak, dill and wet cardboard.

Palate: Dill; tangy; corn and caramel apple.

Finish: Medium short.

Overall:  This screams of MGP, but in a good way.  The dill notes throughout and the caramel apple make a very nice, refreshing pour.

Why This Bottle Is Featured: First off, most bad-ass label among several really bad-ass looking labels. Kansas City distilleries are doing it right in the branding area. I had a quick taste of this when it was first released in the area and was pretty impressed, plastic thimble and all, so I really wanted to put it to the test.

The whiskey is sourced from MGP and then finished for an undisclosed amount of time in 14-year old port casks.

J. Rieger Monogram

Bottle Five: J. Rieger Monogram

Distillery: Unknown (no info on where the corn and rye whiskies were sourced that I could find)

Proof: 104

Mash Bill: Unknown, but this is a mix of a 9-year old Corn Whiskey, blended with 11-year old Rye Whiskey. It is finished for 18 months in Williams & Humbert Solera Especial 15-year Oloroso Dulce century old, 500-liter American oak.

Age: see above

Price: $96.99

Purchase Location: Central Wine & Spirits

Tasting Notes:

Nose:  Black Cat firecracker sulfurous; Scotch whiskey smoke; butterscotch.

Palate: Grilled corn in the husks; rye; smoky blueberries.

Finish:  Long and interesting; corn; blackberry, more smokiness.

Overall:  Nothing like any of us have have had before.  One member indicated that he read that a candle was burned in the barrels as they crossed the Atlantic, which may be root of the sulfur notes.   Notwithstanding how harsh “sulfurous” may sound, the pour is complex, tasty and unique.  The age is noteworthy with nice oak notes throughout, but in no way over-oaked despite nearly 12 years (average) in barrels.

Why This Bottle Is Featured: There is an argument to be made that J. Rieger & Co. is the reason Kansas City has stepped up their whiskey game in the last few years and this is their first limited release. The Monogram name was used by J. Rieger as their premier whiskey in the pre-Prohibition era and the team at J. Rieger & Co. wanted to use the label again. But, instead of distilling something specific, they are going to use the label as a limited release vehicle. This batch was limited to 1,000 bottles.

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