During the lockdown I’ve come to know some new people on Twitter, most of them fellow whisky fans. I’ve done whisky sample swaps with some, which is a nice way to be able to try new whiskies and whiskies that are difficult to source, some of which I didn’t even know existed. Exciting, right?!
Earlier this year I was offered a sample of a single malt rye whisky from the very exciting Kyrö distillery in Finland. My husband remembers it from when we visited them at one of the Swedish whisky festivals a couple of years ago. I can’t remember being particularly excited about it back then and honestly I didn’t remember the name either. But then they appeared at the brilliant livestream that @somewhiskybloke does on Twitter twice a week, and when I heard the wording “single malt rye”, it caught my interest.
I had tasted three rye whiskies in my life before this. The first one was Irish, and is basically an old style single pot still, but isn’t allowed to be called pot still because it has another mashbill than what is declared in the technical file for Irish whiskey. That’s the Kilbeggan small batch rye, and it’s gorgeous. The other one was a young Scottish rye whisky (can’t remember the name). The third was one I heard a lot about before Whiskey Live 2018, the Templeton rye. It’s American, and totally not my cup of tea.
I’m interested in tasting whiskies with different mashbills, to find what difference the variety in ingredients makes. I’ve heard of a French whisky made with buckwheat… how cool is that? Whether it’s a good whisky or not is another story though.. but I’d love to taste it at some point.
Tasting these rye whiskies, and also the rye new make from Blackwater distillery in Waterford recently, opened my eyes for rye whisky again so a sample of the Kyrö was very much appreciated.
Kyrö distillery is described as a project that started one day in a sauna with some drams of rye whisky. A group of friends wondered why there were no distillery making rye whisky in Finland, and plans were made.
The distillery started in 2014, and they make gin, whisky and liqueur, all made from Finnish wholegrain rye. For now they also make hand sanitiser.
The whisky I had the opportunity to taste was the single malt rye, batch 8. If I remember correctly, it’s matured in ex-bourbon casks, virgin oak casks and there’s a sherry component in it too.
I was so curious about this whisky! And for good reason.
Caramel, and a sweet sugary aroma that reminded of rum (I’m no expert at rum but that’s what I associated it with). I also get grappa, oats, hay, and raisins.
Lots of interesting things going on. Wholemeal bread – but I can only refer to what I remember wholemeal bread was like, I’m coeliac and don’t eat ordinary bread since 2010. Additionally there’s sunflower seed, and some intense juice (from plum?) and spice at the end. Nice oily texture. It reminds me of a liqueur of sorts, I wonder if it’s Ratafia? The whole thing has a very dominant flavour of dried berries and plums, and especially raisins.
This whisky was truly different compared to most other whiskies I’ve tried. It was a delight to get the opportunity to try it, and I wouldn’t mind another sip of it if I had the chance.
The rye story doesn’t end here though. With the Kyrö, I also received a not-yet-whisky spirit sample from a distillery in Oxford. Cool! Let’s dig into it.
Oxford Artisan Distillery
This distillery doesn’t display much information about themselves. It must be a quite new distillery – they don’t have any mature whisky yet. But they do have gin and vodka, and they sell what they call Pure rye spirit, which is rye spirit that isn’t matured three years yet, and that can give hints of what to expect in the future whisky.
The sample I tasted was matured 6 months, and very promising.
As expected there is a new makey aroma, but with grappa mixed in. Not bad! There’s some kind of fresh fruit, perhaps pear. Vanilla and grilled chestnut.
Almond (or it could be that chestnut), vanilla, oatflakes, toasted sunflower seeds, fresh toast and coconut flakes. There’s some tropical fruit in there too. It has a nice sweet-spicy finish. Nice soft mouthfeel.
This is seriously gorgeous stuff! I could easily buy a bottle of this. Can’t wait to see their whisky ready!