Yeah though I walk through the Valley of Rye.... (shamelessly lifted from Dan @ The Teardrop Lounge. Much love bud.)
So my friend and sometime fellow traveler H came in tonight and decided to have an aged Rye fro his night cap. He saw that I had two Black Maple Hill Ryes on the shelf and asked for the 23 year. I assumed he knew what he was about and poured him a healthy one. I could tell immediately that he had never had this one before. I personally don't like it much, the 18 year I dislike just a hair less. While they both are cut to 90 proof, they drink very hot and neither are what I would call particularly mellow. I don't want to get into tasting notes here as that is not the goal of this blog (there are plenty of other places to go for that sort of thing).
Rather, I want to give the opinion I have forming recently concerning Rye as it ages. I quite simply think that Rye should age no more than 10 years. It seems to me that the spirit is too aggressive on the barrel to go longer than that. This theory was shown to be true when I poured H a taste of the Russell's Reserve Rye from Wild Turkey. This comes in at a much younger (and affordable) 6 years and is significantly more drinkable than its older counterpart.
Now that being said, I remedied H's dram by stirring it into a quick Derby cocktail (added Benedictine and Peychoud's) which showed the Whiskey in a completely different light. The addition of the slightest bit of sugar and spice let all those years speak more clearly than they could when left alone with just their own fire. The only problem with this is that this bottle is way too expesive to be mixing drinks with. We give a great deal on it by letting it go at $18 a glass and that just is not right for a mixing bottle.
Conclusion: for sipping, keep it under 10 years, for cocktailing, go as old as you can afford.