For years we have enjoyed Rye whiskeys produced by MGP. With the latest Rossville Union whiskey release – MGP’s first rye whiskey released under its own name – we can finally do so straight from the source. And with the Rossville Union Barrel Proof Rye, we can enjoy it straight from the source at barrel proof.
In the not-so-distant past, often consumers were unaware that many of the whiskeys they enjoyed were distilled (and usually aged) at MGP. This was a sore subject for many, both in terms of consumer awareness and in perceived quality. Tides seem to have turned recently. A “Distilled in Indiana” badge on a bottle, which we know to be synonymous with MGP, is now generally a badge of honor. Especially for Rye whiskeys.
Who is MGP? MGP (an abbreviation for Midwest Grain Products) is headquartered in our home state of Kansas, in a small town called Atchison. However, it is the Lawrenceburg, Indian distillery now owned by MGP that has put the company on the whiskey map.
The Lawrenceburg distillery has a storied history. While dating back to 1847 (then called the Rossville Distillery – the namesake for this new whiskey), its modern history largely begins with the purchase by Seagrams in 1933. Seagrams operated the distillery through 2001, at which time the facility was sold to Pernod Ricard. Pernod Ricard later sold it to a holding company, which renamed it “Lawrenceburg Distillers Indiana” or “LDI” for short. In 2011, MGP agreed to the purchase of the facility and aging stock, and renamed the facility MGP of Indiana, or “MGPI.” We know them as simply MGP.
During the Seagrams ownership, the Lawrenceburg distillery produced a number of different recipes. At least seven, to be less than exact, as the plant produced Seagrams 7 Crown, a blend of seven different recipes. One of the recipes then used was a 95% rye – one of the two components of Rossville Union Barrel Proof Rye. Other historic recipes from this era are also still produced.
The other component of Rossville Union, the 51% rye, is the more traditional Rye composition used in the majority of Rye production today.
Rossville Union (both the Barrel Proof and the 47% proofed down version) use a blend of MGP’s 95% and 51% Ryes. These two combine to create something we don’t recall seeing with any MGP sourced products – a blend of these particular rye mashbills. 5 and 6 year old barrels were used for the blend.
Rossville Union Master Crafted Straight Rye Barrel Proof Whiskey (112.6 Proof)
Nose: Spiced oak; vanilla; bright rye grain; fennel, peppermint, dill and other herbs; pixie stick; cherry kids drink; light pre-ground mixed peppercorn pepper; caramel chews. While the sweet notes of the 51% rye mash bill are certainly present and help with balance, the 95% rye mash bill stands front and center. Unfortunately, this feels a bit young, even for a rye. (2.5/5).
Palate: Creamy, with flavors that evolve with time on the palate. This begins with toasted oak and orange zest, but a heavy sweetness coupled with rye spice/peppermint/clove develops, with a red licorice/cherry fruit sweetness and vanilla bean hitting the palate just before the finish. (3/5)
Finish: Medium-long. Lingering rye grain; baking spice; brown sugar; peppermint; pepper; vanilla; cotton candy. (3/5)
Overall: I’m satisfied. I’m a big fan of MGP rye, and this adds some fun twists to much of what I’ve tried before. The blend of mash bills doesn’t marry seamlessly (I feel I’m constantly able to distinguish between the source of the flavors), but they do create a unique expression. If these two mash bills were blended and then added back to their original barrels to age even for just another 2 years, I think this could be next-level. But satisfying as is. (3/5).
Value: I’m not sold. This one registers at $70. I feel like $50 would be right. At $70, I’m looking for something sourced or a young barrel strength rye from someone like Willett. The barrel proof helps on my take in value, but at 112.6 proof, this isn’t enough of a bump from ordinary proof offerings that cost half as much. (2.5/5).
“I’m satisfied. I’m a big fan of MGP rye, and this adds some fun twists to much of what I’ve tried before.”
Scott is a co-founder of Flight Club and a frequent writer and reviewer on the Club’s blog.