Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Ri(1) Whiskey review
I've been wanting to try (ri)1 whiskey ever since my good friend, Steve Mendiola, bassist for Whiskey Dawn, a hot country band in California, started telling me about this great new whiskey that he'd tried. Unfortunately, at the time Steve was bragging about how much he liked ri(1), we weren't getting any product into Oregon (that has since been rectified, I know there are at least a few bottles at Pearl Specialty Market right now). As I'm a huge whiskey fan, and rye is one of my favorite styles of whiskey. I love the range of flavors able to be expressed in rye, from huge spicy monsters, to subtle expressions of the style. Rye is also eminently mixable, the spice notes go well with everything to amaro to chartreuse, and everything from fresh orange juice to Coca-Cola.
When I first opened this bottle of Ri(1), pronounced "Rye-one" if you happen to order it in a bar, I was struck by the typical tight, spicy nose you get from rye whiskey. Once I poured some in the glass, the alcohol becomes more apparent (its 94 proof). This is a pretty whiskey, a honeyed amber color in the glass, and once in the glass, I added a single cube of ice to open it up and allow the flavors to reveal themselves. After about 3 minutes, I checked the nose again, and it had settled comfortably into a rich melange of apricot, almond, cinnamon and clove with just a touch of the spicy pepper apparent. The longer I allowed it to open, the less apparent the spiciness was, giving way to a warm honeyed note behind the apricot and almond.
On the palate, this is a rather soft and subtle rye, more in the same style as Templeton's than, say Rittenhouse. There is some typical rye spice, but it also has a nice honey and dried apricot notes, finishing with a distinct nutiness on the palate for a minute or two. This is a subtle, sophisticated rye whiskey (apparently, there are plans for a ri(2) and ri(3) in the future), made for true whiskey afficionados as well as those looking for a new spirit to try. Its not so big and spicy as to turn off the novice rye drinker, but it can also be appreciated by those with a more sophisticated whiskey palate.
One of the great things about ri(1) is its versatility. Not only can you sip this neat (or in my case, with 1 cube), but it mixes extremely well in cocktails. I've been tinkering with this recipe quite a bit recently, and I think ri(1) is the perfect whiskey to incorporate into this drink. Its simple, flavorful and yet elegant. Enjoy
Writers Block Cocktail
1 oz ri(1) whiskey
1 oz Amaro Nonino
2 oz fresh orange juice
1) In a mixing glass, add all three ingredients, fill glass with ice.
2) Using a Boston tin, shake contents of glass vigorously, strain into a stem glass
3) Express orange peel over the cocktail and serve