DSR – VA – 014: Catoctin Creek Roundstone Rye Whisky Sampler Gift Pack


Company/Distillery: Catoctin Creek Distilling Company LLC

Location: Purcellville, Virginia

Mash Bill: 100% Virginia Rye

Age Statement: No Age Statement

Proof/ABV: Burgundy Label: 80 Proof/40 ABV; Dark Teal Label: 92 Proof/46% ABV; Black Label: 116 Proof/58% ABV.

Color & Viscosity: The 80 proof is dark chestnut to light russet in color. It offers an initially thin viscous line and becomes oily in appearance as legs develop slowly. Once the legs release, they glide smoothly down the sides of the tasting vessel. 

The 92 proof Distillers Edition Roundstone Rye is russet in color and offers a medium viscous line. Numerous legs are quick to develop, but they start out as beads on the viscous line.

The Cask Proof Edition is light tawny in color. A razor thin viscous line is produced when the glass is tilted, but the consistency is thick overall. This doesn’t offer much in the formation of legs; instead a thick lip develops and slowly slides down the side of the glass.

Purchase Price: $44.99 from the distillery gift shop – Spring 2021; 3 bottles/200-ml each.

Bottle Label Information:

Burgundy Label – Front

“Catoctin Creek Distilling Company”

“Hand Made Roundstone Rye Whisky”

“80 Proof | Single Barrel”

“Distilled from 100% Rye”

“Single Barrel Virginia Rye Whisky”

“Never Chill Filtered”

“Batch: 21A05 | Bottle No. “

“Purcellville, Virginia”

Dark Teal Label

“Catoctin Creek Distilling Company”

“Hand Made Roundstone Rye Whisky”

“92 Proof | Single Barrel”

“Distilled from 100% Rye”

“Distillers Edition Rye Whisky”

“Never Chill Filtered”

“Batch: 21G05 | Bottle No. “

“Purcellville, Virginia”

Black Label

“Catoctin Creek Distilling Company”

“Hand Made Roundstone Rye Whisky”

“Cask Proof | Single Barrel”

“Distilled from 100% Rye”

“Cask Proof Edition Rye Whisky”

“Never Chill Filtered”

“Batch:21E05 | Bottle No. “

“Purcellville, Virginia”

All 3 Back Labels

“Proudly distilled by hand in copper pot stills in the rolling foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains”

“Distilled and bottled by Catoctin Creek Distilling Company LLC”

“Purcellville, Virginia, USA”

catoctincreek.com


Distillery Background


Catoctin Creek Distilling Company LLC

Catoctin Creek Distilling Company LLC, pronounced KA-TOCK-TIN, was founded in 2009 by husband and wife duo Scott and Becky Harris. The distillery is located on Main Street in downtown Purcellville, Loudoun County, Virginia. Purcellville is located about 50 miles northwest of Washington D.C. and just south of the Potomac River . To the west, you can find the West Virginia/Virginia border. Upon its opening, Catoctin Creek would become Loudoun County’s first legal distillery since Prohibition.

Prior to founding the distillery, Scott, a graduate of Georgia Tech, and Becky, an alumni from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, held successful careers in telecommunications and chemical engineering, respectively. Mrs. Harris had a love for taking different fruits, grains, and other ingredients and experimenting with how they would react and handle the distillation process. Mr. Harris had a passion for anything related to spirits. Together, the Harris’ would take their passions, leave behind their current careers, and open Catoctin Creek Distillery where they specialize in finely crafted handmade 100% Virginia Rye Whisky.

Catoctin Creek operates the distillery with a still set up that includes a 300-gallon mash tank. In this tank they cook upwards of 700 pounds of multi-rye grains into distiller’s beer, or mash. They then move the mash into six 300-gallon fermenters where it ferments for about 7 days before it is ready to be run through the still. Catoctin Creek currently operates using two stills. The smaller still, a 100-gallon electric pot still affectionately known as “Barney”, is primarily used for their gin and brandy products. The larger still, “Ron”, is a 300-gallon hybrid pot and column still used full time for whisky production. Each batch that is run through “Ron” takes approximately 9 hours to complete the distillation. After distillation, the new make rye whisky is stored in 30-gallon new oak barrels and aged for 2 to 4 years before bottling. In 2017, Constellation Brands acquired majority stake in Catoctin Creek and injected significant capital into the distillery to help ensure their future growth. As of 2021, Catoctin Creek is undergoing major renovations, including replacement of some equipment and the retirement/replacement of “Barney”.

Catoctin Creek Distilling currently offers a vast portfolio of products including their Roundstone Rye bottlings, Rabble Rouser Bottled-in-Bond Rye, Ragnarok Rye (in collaboration with GWAR), Watershed Gin, Braddock Oak Rye Whisky, 1757 Virginia Brandy, 1757 Virginia Brandy XO Bottled-in-Bond, fruit brandies (pear, peach, and apple), and occasional special releases.

Visit the Catoctin Creek Distilling website for additional details including a virtual tour of the distillery along with various informational videos done by the Harris’!

Roundstone Rye Whisky

The sample gift pack that we are reviewing came with three 200-ml bottles of the Catoctin Creek Roundstone Rye Whisky line. The burgundy label is a single barrel offering bottled at 80 proof, designed to be a daily drinking whisky. The teal label, known as the Distiller’s Edition, is bottled at 92 proof and is the favorite offering of the team at Catoctin Creek. This spirit is generally used by many for mixing or drinking neat. Finally, the black label or Cask Proof offering, is bottled at 116 proof and is produced with the experienced whisky aficionado in mind. All three whiskies are made using a 100% Virginia Rye mash bill and are distilled, aged, and bottled by Catoctin Creek Distillery.


Tasting Notes


We will be reviewing each Roundstone Rye expression on its own. As a result, each expression will have its own set of tasting notes and Rickhouse Ramblings score. Look at this as 3 weeks of reviews for the same customary low price. A win-win for all!

Tasting Date/Vessel: June 16, 2021 – Neat in Glencairn Glass

Catoctin Creek Roundstone Rye Single Barrel – 80 Proof

Nose

Christian: In the bottle, this 80 proof Roundstone Rye Whisky permeates my nose with the scent of flavored pipe tobacco and a sweet fruitiness similar to cherries or apples. In my Glencairn glass, I quickly notice the sweetness of brown sugar and a touch of butterscotch. A second pass of the glass allows a nice note of rye spice, black pepper, and a very vague hint of citrus. One final smell adds a subtle touch of freshly made bread dough.

Mike: Nosing this whisky from the bottle, I’m met with soft apple, tobacco, and oak aromas.  As I nose from the glass, I detect a light fragrance of dried grass as cured tobacco emerges from behind with a touch of light oak. A gentle swirl releases mild butterscotch and golden raisins that give way to cinnamon and soft leather. 

Mouth

Christian: The 80 proof Roundstone Rye has a soft velvety mouth feel. There is a slight oiliness to it on the tongue. On the tip of my tongue the whisky arrives with a sweetness. Brown sugar, leather, and cinnamon are all noticeable. As I take a second sip, a touch of citrus, similar to that of lemon zest, is accompanied by an oakiness from the barrel char. Not overly complex, but, well balanced.

Mike: This 80 proof Rounstone Rye offers a mild sweetness and is very dry on the palate. Faint hints of apple are revealed with a punch of Big Red gum arriving mid palate. An oaky tannic bitterness is detected on the back end but is soft.

Finish

Christian: This rendition of Roundstone Rye presents with a short, delicate, dry finish. There is a slight hug that develops, however, it is in no way overbearing or unwelcoming. The finish drops hints of aged leather, toasted brown sugar, and lightly toasted bread. A subtle hint of stone fruit, like a grilled peach, along with lemon zest remain present long after the spirit has been enjoyed.

Mike: This offering has a medium finish. I find this to be initially smooth as it is imbibed, but it does flex a little bit of heat in the back of the throat, with a lingering flavor of apple and leather.

Individual Rickhouse Rating

Christian Rickhouse Rating: 3.00

Mike Rickhouse Rating: 2.75


Our Rating – Roundstone Rye 80 Proof


2.75/5.0 Rickhouses – “Make it Neat!”

Catoctin Creek Roundstone Rye Single Barrel – 92 Proof Distillers Edition

Nose

Christian: In the bottle, the Distillers Edition 92 Proof offering leads with a more robust, rich tobacco flavor. This is joined by a touch of cedarwood. In my Glencairn glass, I quickly notice an increase in the rye spice component of the nose – this is in the form a strong tingling sensation. As I swirl the glass and nose again, I begin to pick up toasted walnut, caramel sauce, and brown sugar.

Mike: This 92 proof offering brings forth a more pronounced apple, tobacco, and oak aroma from the bottle. From the glass, I detect a bit of sandalwood that transitions to black pepper and sage. A rich caramel fragrance appears as I nose in deeper, then it transitions to butterscotch. A swirl releases green apple tones with drizzles of caramel. 

Mouth

Christian: The Distillers Edition whisky has a nice viscosity on the tongue. This pour is much more flavorful than the 80 proof. The black pepper spice is really ramped up in this version of Roundstone Rye – however, it is not at all overbearing. Alongside the spice is a nice undercurrent of brown sugar, vanilla pudding, caramel sauce, leather, and oak char. The robust flavors from the nose carry over nicely in this pour.

Mike: Right off the bat, the Distillers Edition 92 proof is punchier than their 80 proof offering. Rye spice and a black pepper bite are immediate, but the mouthfeel is sweeter and not as dry. A rush of green apple hits the middle of the tongue as oak and dried leather mingle nicely at the back of the palate.

Finish

Christian: The Distillers Edition undoubtedly has more spice punch and bite than the 80 proof version, which is expected. A nice medium finish is followed by a decent hug that wells up in the throat but quickly backs down. The finish is more spice than heat and is accompanied by a little dryness. I notice more oakiness on my palate in this iteration that brings a subtle bitterness to the picture. As the flavors begin to dissipate I notice nice sweet apple hanging around after the spirit has been long gone from my mouth.

Mike: The finish on this Distillers Edition 92 proof has a similar medium finish as the 80 proof offering, with the only difference being that the 92 proof is slightly hotter in the back of the throat. The apple and leather linger, but a hint of bitter barrel char is detected. 

Individual Rickhouse Rating

Christian Rickhouse Rating: 2.85

Mike Rickhouse Rating: 3.00


Our Rating – Roundstone Rye 92 Proof Distillers Edition


2.90/5.0 Rickhouses – “Make it Neat!”

Catoctin Creek Roundstone Rye Single Barrel – Cask Proof Edition

Nose

Christian: Wow! The Catoctin Creek Cask Proof Edition has amazingly rich flavors in the bottle. Right away, I detect sweet maple syrup or dark raw honey. Additionally, there is a light touch of tobacco that is present, but not nearly as pronounced as the other two offerings. In my Glencairn, I gather aromas of warm brown butter, maple syrup, and pecan. This smells like a cookie – I’m thinking butter pecan pralines. Finally, after an additional swirl, I catch a touch of tobacco and butterscotch. Strong, but not nearly as potent as one would expect from cask strength.

Mike: The cask proof Roundstone Rye is robust from the bottle, offering floral dark honey and butterscotch morsels. As I nose into the glass, the butterscotch aromas begin to thicken. To round out the nose on this offering, I pick up a hint of homemade pecan pie filling. One last swirl releases some light ethanol notes, but fresh peanut brittle emerges as it begins to settle.

Mouth

Christian: The Roundstone Rye is thick, oily, and viscous on my tongue. There is so much rye spice punch in this pour that comes out much like red pepper flake. Mouth watering flavors of leather, honey, molasses and a touch of dark chocolate round out this whisky. In many ways, this reminds me of a Lindt Excellence Chili Dark Chocolate Bar–sweet with a hit of heat. Again, a balanced pour that isn’t overly spicy or sweet – just a nice complementary taste profile.

Mike: As I sip this cask proof, I immediately notice that this is the sweetest of the three offerings. It has a thin mouthfeel with a rich leather flavor. Spicy pepper jumps around the palate and offers a similar bite to cayenne, but without the lingering heat. 

Finish

Christian: As any cask strength whisky should, this Roundstone Cask Proof Edition brings a nice long finish. A decent Virginia hug is present and a warming sensation from my mouth all the way down to my chest. Flavors of burnt toast, oak char, and toasted marshmallows all show up in the finish. As the finish dissipates and mellows on the lips, there is a slight transition to shortbread cookies left on the palate. A surprising and delicious treat!

Mike: As expected, the finish on the cask proof is long. Sharp cinnamon spice hits the back of the throat then a long slow burn proceeds down into the chest. An interesting honey flavor seems to linger at the back of the palate then transitions to charred oak. I think the sweetness of the honey mutes any bitterness the charred oak normally offers. 

Individual Rickhouse Rating

Christian Rickhouse Rating: 3.50

Mike Rickhouse Rating: 3.25


Our Rating – Roundstone Rye Cask Proof Distillers Edition


3.38/5.0 Rickhouses – “Make it Neat!”


Final Thoughts


Christian: The 80 proof Roundstone Rye Whisky is unbelievably approachable for a 100% Rye Whisky. The flavor profile is subtle yet balanced and enjoyable. Nothing here is going to knock your socks off, but, I find this pour to be something that can be enjoyed as a sipper, neat with friends who want to ease into a rye whisk(e)y. With the Distillers Edition 92 Proof Offering, Catoctin Creek has provided a well balanced rye whisky for our enjoyment. This offering is definitely more punchy, and comes with a nice pizzazz that leaves no question that you are enjoying a rye whisky. Finally, the Roundstone Cask Proof Edition is crazy flavorful and delicious. Although it is not for everyone (due mainly to the proof and rye punch), this 100% Virginia Rye Cask Proof is sweet, balanced, and packs a flavor explosion. I am very impressed with these rye offerings, as our experience to date of competitor’s 100% rye whiskies has not been as positive. My favorite is the Cask Proof Edition, however, I give a nod to the 80 proof offering over the Distillers Edition solely on the drinkability and smoothness. I could just see myself drinking this one more often. This Catoctin Creek Roundstone Sampler pack, priced at just under $45, is a great deal and fantastic way to give all three expressions a try and decide which one fits your palate the best. Cheers!

Mike: This is a solid trio of offerings from Catoctin Creek distillery and tasting these in sequence was a great experience. While presenting similarities in their profiles, each proof shined with its own uniqueness in some form or fashion. To date, I’d rank any of these as my favorite rye whisky, although I’d lean towards the Cask Proof as my clear cut favorite (is anyone shocked?). The 80 and 92 are priced accordingly, with the cask proof carrying a much higher price tag. Considering that each offering is 100% rye, which is more expensive and harder to produce, I think the cost is reasonable. 


Gallery


2 Comments

  1. Thanks, boys for this broad and robust review of Catoctin Creek’s sampler Pack. Definitely a brand to put on the wish list!

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