Region: Tennessee, USA
Age: 2 Years
Average Price: $50
Peat’s Thoughts: By now I’m pretty sure I’m a broken record, but I’ve never been a big fan of rye whiskey outside WhistlePig. And… that’s the end of that story, on to the whiskey. Sugarlands Distillery opened in 2014 in Gatlinburg, Tennessee selling primarily moonshine. Now, before I continue, let me say that prior to 3 weeks ago, I never heard of it. Clearly, I was doing something wrong with my life. In three years they’ve welcomed some three million visitors to their distillery. That’s one million people a year who went there before I even heard of the damn thing. Anyway, I digress. Roaming Man is a small batch rye and this is their Second Edition; their first release had 150 bottles and pre-sales were sold out in under 48 hours. Roaming man also took home a gold medal in the Straight Rye Whiskey category at the Los Angeles International Spirits Competition. So before even cracking it open, I’ve learned a few things:
- Sugarlands is doing something right.
- I need to be more aware of what’s going on in the whiskey world.
- I need to drink more.
For now, I can rectify the 3rd while, possibly, confirming the 1st. So on with it!
The box it comes in is beautifully minimalistic while the graphics are intricate and pretty creative. There’s a little guy on the box, who I assume is the Roaming Man himself, that sort of reminds me of the Johnnie Walker Walking Man. Maybe they can get together one day and, I dunno, go on a hike or something. Shrug. Inside the box is a small 375ml bottle of the juice and a “Gas Chromatograph” which gives additional information. Didn’t bother to read it because I didn’t want to taint my experience. Once the bottle is opened, the air around me changes as that high alcohol content starts to evaporate and I get the immediate rush of spices that is all too familiar with rye. It is cask strength after all. The nose is strong with spice and vanilla. However, I pick up on something else too; something almost vinegary. I gotta admit though, while I expected gasoline on the front end when I tasted it, it was surprisingly mellow. Smooth even! But there was certainly some heat as it went down my throat. I did pick up on those initial smells I got too. It reminded me of apple cider vinegar. That’s in no way a bad thing if you ever had kimchi. And I do love kimchi. The best was still to come though, ’cause after letting it breathe a bit and a couple drops of water, this thing becomes delicious! The apple flavours shine through while eliminating any of that vinegary taste. I get some more fruity notes, possibly peach and pear, but additional flavours too, like butter scotch. On the back end, I get some vanilla and black pepper and a creamy, spicy, finish that is long and warming.
I must say, I enjoyed this. Unlike other rye whiskeys I’ve had, this was very pleasant. I would certainly recommend it as it has enough fire to satisfy any rye enthusiast, but approachable enough for those who are not quite as adventurous. Their pre-sales start again in September, but if their last couple of sales are any indication, they won’t last long.