Monday, January 25, 2021

Review / Catoctin Creek Roundstone Rye 92 Proof

This whisky is a new arrival to the UK market and is produced in the American state of Virginia. The Roundstone Rye is their flagship range and features this 92 Proof alongside the 80 Proof and Cask Proof bottlings (this is released twice a year). The three whiskies are made in a pre-Prohibition rye style and from 100% rye grain, which is sourced locally where possible. All parts of the distillation process - mashing, fermentation, distillation and maturation - take place at the distillery. The spirit is matured in charred American white oak barrels for a minimum of two years, with only one single cask in every ten being selected for this 92 Proof release.

The Catoctin Creek distillery was founded in 2009 by Becky and Scott Harris in the Loundoun Valley, Purcellville in the state of Virginia. It was the first legal distillery to open in Loudoun County since the pre-Prohibition era. Becky is Master Distiller and Scott is General Manager. The name Catoctin (pronounced ka-tock-tin) refers to a local Native American tribal name - the Kittocton - and means 'a place of many deer'. The Catoctin area covers a mountain range that includes the creek in the brand name, which flows passed the distillery and in to the Potomac River.

Scott and Becky Harris. Image © Catoctin Creek Distilling Co.

In addition to the rye whisky, Catoctin Creek also release other limited edition whiskies as well as distilling gin, brandy, fruit brandies and bitters. Their range of spirits have gained multiple awards worldwide. For further information on the distillery, brand and their spirits, please visit

The Catoctin Creek Roundstone Rye 92 Proof is bottled at 92° Proof (unsurprisingly), which is 46% ABV and is non chill-filtered. It is available in selected European markets and the USA. It is just being launched in the UK and is available in selected specialist whisky retailers. A bottle will cost £53.95 ($52.79 in the USA).

Our tasting notes

The colour is deep gold and the nose is fragrant and delicate. Sweet aromas of maple syrup and icing sugar are supported by maraschino cocktail cherry and a hint of orange oil. There is an underlying earthy and spicy quality (think of baking spices especially with a suggestion of fresh rye grain straight off the plant), along with pleasant green aromas - imagine waxy apple skins and fresh cut grass.

On the palate this whisky is immediately more savoury and woody than the nose suggested. Deep earthy notes mingle with robust cereals and dusty, warming spices. Notes of cinnamon, all-spice and white pepper combine with charred oak, burnt cookies and bittersweet grains that grip the tastebuds. Then the sweetness begins to develop to give excellent balance. First come notes of maple syrup and honey with a pinch of icing sugar, which are backed up by milk chocolate and sugared almonds. There is also a distinct characteristic of maraschino cocktail cherry or kirsch and this adds a lovely juiciness. Hints of that orange oil from the nose plus vanilla, coconut, clove, menthol and cocoa powder give further depth.

The finish is drying, gripping and of decent length. The sweet maple syrup and icing sugar notes fade first and this allows the earthy and woody savoury cereals and spices to take hold. These draw out the finish to great effect. Highly enjoyable.

What's the verdict?

This Catoctin Creek Roundstone Rye 92 Proof is a great discovery. For a 100% rye whisky it has an unexpected delicacy and freshness. Other such whiskies that we have tried have been much spicier and more robust. It has the classic rye whisky elements but they are subtle, adding depth and complexity rather than being the only feature.

It is easy to see why Catoctin Creek has won so many awards in their relatively short history. We are delighted to have discovered the distillery and cannot wait to sample the other two expressions in the Roundstone Rye core range. This 92 Proof is absolutely delicious served neat but would work superbly well in a classic cocktail such as the Manhattan or Sazerac. 

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