2020 Rye of the Year – Crown Royal Noble Collection 16 Year Rye
If you have followed e this year this one should come as no surprise to you. I have been singing the praises of this whiskey since the first time I cracked the bottle. It scored one of my highest scores of the year (read review here), and won my blind battle (video here). It isn’t every day that I find myself reaching for a bottle of Crown Royal, but they really knocked it out of the park with this one. The descriptor that comes to mind with this whiskey is juicy fruit. It just has a beautiful splash of fruit flavor as soon as it hits the tongue. The lower proof may turn some people off, but Crown Royal Noble Collection 16 Year Rye is my 2020 Rye of the Year.
2020 Small Distribution Rye of the Year – Pursuit Series Episode 29
This is another rye whiskey that took my by surprise. Coming from an undisclosed distillery in Tennessee and being aged 4 years, there was no way to be prepared for what this rye brought to the table. The thing that sticks in my memory here is the lime that shines through on the finish. It is great to pick up a note that doesn’t usually come through in rye profiles. Kudos to Kenny and Ryan at Pursuit Spirits for searching out great barrels of whiskey from sources that others just aren’t pulling from. 2020 was a great year for the brand, and with the upcoming release of Pursuit United 2021 looks to be an even bigger year for the brand. Read the full review of Episode 29 here.
2020 Outside of the Box Rye of the Year – New Riff Backsetter Rye
This release is outside of the box, but a trend that we will probably start seeing more of as American whiskey continues to expand and experiment in new ways. This one missed the mark for a lot of people, but I really enjoyed the dimension the smoke from the peat rounded out the bright fruity notes in the New Riff rye (full review here). New Riff has great flagship products and continues to push the envelope with their New Riff Whiskey Club releases. They seem destined to be mentioned with the Buffalo Traces and Wild Turkeys of the world in the coming years.