Taste Test: This Texas Distillery’s New Rye Is Just as Great Neat as It Is in a Cocktail

If you’ve noticed an increase in Texas whiskey coverage here at Robb Report in recent months, that’s because there’s been a whole to cover. And it’s not just that the playing field continues to expand—the whiskey coming out of distilleries in the state is, more often than not, very good. One of the best of the bunch is Still Austin, a small craft distillery that just released its fourth bottled-in-bond whiskey, and this is definitely one worth seeking out.

Still Austin, which as you can guess is located in Austin, is a decade old now. That puts it into the middle age tier of craft whiskey distilleries, not quite as old as the OGs but it’s been around longer than some of the young’uns. That pedigree means that the distillery is able to release some properly aged whiskey, and as is often the case when a distillery has been around for this long, bottled-in-bond expressions. As a reminder, that designation means the whiskey is at least four years old, bottled at exactly 100 proof, and the product of one distillery and one distilling season. This new rye whiskey is the fourth release in Still Austin’s Bottled in Bond series—the three previous expressions were all bourbons made from different mashbills of red corn, blue corn, and a high-rye recipe.

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Still Austin Bottled in Bond Straight Rye Whiskey’s mashbill is 100 percent Texas-grown rye grain. That’s in keeping with the distillery’s commitment to using local grains grown in the Lone Star State, including corn, wheat and barley. That mashbill is not necessarily unusual, but it differs from the commonly found 95/5 rye-barley whiskeys you’ll find from MGP or the just over 51 percent rye “barely legal” whiskeys coming out of Kentucky. What separates this new whiskey from Still Austin’s core rye is that it’s a little older and has a higher ABV, and those variations had a big impact on the whiskey. Despite the fact that there is only rye in the mashbill, the whiskey doesn’t drink like the fruity spice bomb you might expect. There is a richness to the palate, with notes of caramel, stone fruit, vanilla, honey, and ginger, along with the black pepper and cinnamon notes you might expect. This whiskey is versatile—fit’s a lovely sipper, and it works just fine in a cocktail as well (I tried it in a Manhattan, chef’s kiss).

Despite its proximity to fellow Texas distillery Garrison Brothers, Still Austin’s whiskeys don’t have the heavy (and sometimes polarizing) barrel influence that defines the former’s bourbon. That’s likely due to the fact that Still Austin uses full size barrels for maturation, while Garrison uses a variety of sizes which causes the whiskey to pick up more wood notes. Also, the team at Still Austin uses the elevage method of maturation, a French technique which involves adding small amounts of water to the barrels while they age and the liquid evaporates, as opposed to waiting until they are dumped for dilution.

This is not to say that Garrison Brothers is inferior to Still Austin, but that the whiskeys coming out of each distillery could not be more different, something that holds true across the wide landscape of Texas whiskey. In Still Austin’s case, the result of this mixture of science, chemistry, and the untamable force of nature is a tasty rye whiskey that also has a point of view. There is more than enough of the aforementioned Indiana and Kentucky rye out there to drink if that’s what you’re looking for. But if you’re a fan of Texas whiskey, a rye aficionado, or just an enthusiastic whiskey drinker, give this new rye a go.

Score: 89

  • 100 Worth trading your first born for

  • 95 – 99 In the Pantheon: A trophy for the cabinet

  • 90 – 94 Great: An excited nod from friends when you pour them a dram

  • 85 – 89 Very Good: Delicious enough to buy, but not quite special enough to chase on the secondary market

  • 80 – 84 Good: More of your everyday drinker, solid and reliable

  • Below 80 It’s alright: Honestly, we probably won’t waste your time and ours with this

Every week Jonah Flicker tastes the most buzzworthy and interesting whiskeys in the world. Check back each Friday for his latest review.

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