Delaware Phoenix's Historic Rye

9/8/11 -

Almost two years ago we had the distinct pleasure of meeting Cheryl Lins, and tasting the fantastic absinthe that she creates from scratch. Cheryl has now been bitten by the whiskey bug, and we are proud to offer her first batch of barrel aged rye whiskey. Cheryl’s distillery, Delaware Phoenix, is a true artisanal operation based in Walton, New York. Here she personally creates every spirit, and (among other accolades) has been awarded Distillery of the Year 2010 by the NewYork International Spirits Competition. She operates a 45 gallon copper pot still (an industrial Scottish pot still holds up to 4,800 gallons) that she ordered from Portugal.  Pot still distillation occurs in batches, and is a much longer and labor-intensive process than the continuous stills that are used to create almost all American whiskey. The hope is that the extra effort will pay off in a richer mouth-feel and rounder texture that pot distilled spirits display. This would be the way that all whisky was produced before the early 1800s. 

Before Prohibition, rye whiskey was the whiskey of New York and Pennsylvania; it is Cheryl’s goal to recreate a spirit in this great northern tradition. She starts with a mash bill of one hundred percent rye consisting of ninety percent Finger Lakes grown organic grain; the remainder is beer quality malt. After the distillation Cheryl uses an assortment of 10 and 25 gallon barrels for maturation. This is about half of the size of traditional whiskey barrels, so she is careful to remove the spirit fairly quickly so as not to overly mark the rye with wood flavors.  The average age of the whiskey is eight months; this is quite the opposite of the industry trend towards ultra-mature whiskies that taste entirely of barrel. For Cheryl the focus is on preserving the super high quality and unique character of her spirit. 

In addition to the new rye, we have a few bottles of her “white dog” or “new make” spirit available at a new reduced price. This is the exact same mash bill as her whiskey, but held in stainless steel tanks as opposed to wood barrels. The contrast in flavors is quite interesting considering that the time in oak is so brief for the rye whiskey. Cheryl also is working with a corn whiskey and a Bourbon, so stay tuned! JR

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