Rough Rider - Double Casked

Nose: This has a nice sweet nose, with hints of cherries, a little alcohol and some mint. The nose is pretty light, so it was a little difficult picking out distinctive scents. Palate: The first sip hits you with some heat right up front. It is peppery and has a decent amount of cinnamon going on. The second sip brings forward some rye spiciness. It is a bit on the sweet side, but it gets covered up by the heat. It isn’t harsh or burning, but definitely has some warmth going on. That warmth lasts into the finish, which is about medium to the longer side of medium. You get a second blast of pepper on the finish and you definitely feel it on your tongue. There’s also a not-unpleasant aftertaste that is a bit on the rye side. This has a rich mouthfeel. On later sips, it almost seems like the sweetness is trying to break through, but the pepper keeps overwhelming it. Comments: I’d have a hard time finding anything wrong with this bourbon. It has a pretty distinctive taste but I feel like it would be a much better tasting experience if it was toned down a bit. So……I did something I rarely do (especially at this proof - 90) and I added about 4 or 5 drops of water. That brought out a little more sweetness on the nose, but it is still a little astringent. Even just those few drops did tone down the heat and pepper, so at that point that it ended up being a pretty nice sipper. I generally don’t do it too often, but I’m always amazed at how a few extra drops of water will change a bourbon, so I guess this is a good time to mention it and say, if you don’t like something, give it a second chance by adding some water to see what happens. In this case, it wasn’t that I didn’t like it straight, but I had, I don’t know… a gut feeling? that some water might help this along. Those extra drops of water brought out the rye spice as well as a little bit of dark chocolate. This is not pricey bourbon - Total Wine’s website puts it at $23. At that price, I’d be hard pressed not to recommend trying it. Now…..this is a New York bourbon. With the exception of Hillrock Solera, and, like bourbons from Texas, I haven’t found any really good New York bourbons. Rough Rider is made….on Long Island. Sort of. It is sourced from LDI and has a mash bill of 60% corn, 35% rye and 5 % malted barley. [NOTE: LDI is Lawrenceburg Distillers Indiana, that is part of MGP (Midwest Grain Products). Here’s an interesting website on MGP mash bills…. ] After the initial aging, it is further finished in Merlot and Chardonnay casks from “local wineries” And…the casks are “washed” in a local brandy before the bourbon goes in. I actually think that this Brandy wash is what makes this so interesting. I think there is enough going on here to at least give this a try. Try before you buy, might be a good strategy, but if you can get it for $23, I don’t think you’ll think you wasted your money. Lastly….I let a little sit in the glass for a decent amount of time……the last sip was pretty rye forward, so if you like that in a bourbon, pour a glass and let it sit a while before you move in on it.