We began our European Rye tasting journey in Germany – given that’s where we are located! We decided to start with the familiar Stork Club Straight Rye and then move on to their Full Proof expression.
It was also fitting that I was tasting this pair with friends in Neumark in der Oberpfalz – considering they had earlier introduced me to Stork Single Malt 43%! And true to form, we rewarded ourselves with a tasting after a day trip to a medieval fair in an old castle (Burg Parsberg in this case)- because that’s how we roll in Deutschland!
Let’s start with a quick recap on Stork which comes from Spreedwood Distillery. It was started by three friends who spotted an opportunity to bring rye from the field to the glass:
- Steffen Lohr, former bartender (including »Der Raum«, Melbourne) worked for years as a brand ambassador for Bacardi before he set up his own agency »Small Big Brands«
- Sebastian Brack invented the successful Thomas Henry bitter lemonade brand and is a co-founder of Belsazar Vermouth.
- Bastian Heuser – also a former bartender and one of the co-founders of the »Bar Convent Berlin«, the leading European trade fair for the bar and beverage industry.
They use German rye, largely from the prolific Brandenburg region, and love to experiment with different casks. You can read more about their process here.
Now let’s get down to “tasting’ business!
- Nose – Very minerally, like wet granite or stone, also quite “clean”, slowly opened to reveal a little sweet caramel and vanilla
- Palate – Wow! Very sweet, butterscotch, a hint of peppery spice, then shifted into espresso joined by creamy chocolate, warming into orange marmalade
- Finish – More of that bitter espresso beans
As much as the aromas were “mineral”, the palate was soft and sweet! It has a lovely mouthfeel – almost buttery. The more we spent with this rye, the more chocolaty it became – at one point it was like the rye equivalent of sipping chocolate milk!
Overall this is an exceedingly drinkable dram. Very pleasant, quite enjoyable… and whilst there is nothing “exceptional”, it is just a friendly Rye that one can sip or combine in a cocktail.
This is exactly what happened to my bottle of Stork Rye – brought to India for a tasting that instead joined a Cast party after a great production. It made a marvelous base for an exceedingly delicious Old Fashioned with a nice orange zest and Peychaud’s bitters. Yum! No wonder the whole bottle was rapidly emptied! (and yes – that’s our cat Zoe joining the bottle pic!)
What more do we know? Stork’s Straight Rye is matured in First fill American oak & German Napoleon oak. At Eur 30 (in Germany), it is good rye to keep in your whisky cabinet for those moments when you want a change from a typical single malt – particularly if in the mood for a cocktail!
We then moved on to the “Full Proof” Rye expression, anticipating it to be a more “amped up” version of the Straight Rye.
- Nose – Surprisingly shy, what we could discern was quite sweet, buttery caramel or butterscotch, from far away something lightly roasted, a bit of rye hint, yet overall quite ‘muted’ – at least compared with the Straight Rye, after some time had a touch of dried fruits and vanilla, but still quite subtle
- Palate – Is that Sherry? Sweet over-ripe plums, some dates, a maraschino cherry, sweet spices – particularly cloves, then some wine tannins, the skin of plums
- Finish – A hint of peppery spice carries through
- Water – Fruity, sweet, consistent with the palate
This was curious and decidedly different from the “straight rye.” Perhaps because we enjoyed the Straight Rye so much, we had high expectations to be blown away with this one! It was still interesting, yet quite different than we anticipated.
What I later read helped explain everything! The “Full Proof” expression is made in small batches and is matured in toasted American and German Napoleon oak casks as well as sherry and white-wine casks and is bottled at approximately cask strength.
Aha! Suddenly it all made sense!! That’s where the odd sherry notes or wine influences came – which are a bit different in a Rye than in a single malt! Hence when we found these elements, this didn’t quite “jibe” with what we had in mind for a Rye. An interesting experiment, however, I’m not a real fan of some wine cask finishes, and with Rye? It is definitely different!
If you are curious to try it, this is currently part of Stork’s core range and be purchased in Germany for Eur 48 for 500ml.
What next did we try in our “Roggen (aka Rye) Revolution” tasting set?
- Denmark: Stauning Rye 48% & Stauning El Clásico 45,7%
- Finland: Kyrö Malt Rye Whisky 47.2% & Kyrö Wood Smoke Rye 47.2%
You can also find Whisky Lady in India on:
- Facebook Whisky Lady in India – https://www.facebook.com/WhiskyLadyIN
- Twitter @WhiskyLadyIN