The other week, my youngest headed over to his buddy’s house (coincidentally, Mr. G-LO’s house) for an afternoon of tearing through the neighborhood, or at the very least, sitting quietly on a couch playing video games. When he returned home for dinner, he was bearing gifts. Naturally, as we are a classy group, he carried over several samples from G-LO in a brown paper bag (this is G-LO’s not so subtle way of doling out our next assignment. He’s such a taskmaster! Bastard). Fully portable, recyclable, and ready for action whether that be carrying a bottle across the yard or suitably hiding said bottle for a quick swig in a park (or in G-LO’s case, Skid Row), the paper bag more than did its job as G-LO used the junior person delivery system and sent over more work.
In the bag was a sample of the Roaming Man Tennessee Straight Rye Whiskey from the Sugarlands Distilling Company of Gatlinburg, TN. Since we’ve tried and enjoyed a couple of spirits from Sugarlands in the past (the Butter Pecan Sippin’ Cream and the Dark Chocolate Coffee Sippin’ Cream), I was intrigued to try the Roaming Man as it was my first opportunity to try a whiskey from Sugarlands Distilling, and an opportunity to try another Tennessee Straight Whiskey.
Before we get to our review, here’s what Sugarlands has to say about their Roaming Man Tennessee Straight Rye Whiskey…
Roaming Man Tennessee Straight Rye Whiskey boasts a bold expression of black pepper, vanilla, caramel, tobacco and oak. This cask strength whiskey entered the barrel as a pot-distilled, gold medal winning spirit resulting in a balanced barrel proof Rye Whiskey.
And here are our impressions…
- Appearance: The color of deep, dark maple syrup with auburn highlights.
- ABV: 60.9%
- Limpd: Given the high ABV, I didn’t find the alcohol burn to be all that strong. I’m hoping it just speaks to the balance of the whiskey. If not, I may have a problem. While the alcohol is there, I get a lot of sugars (meringue and raspberry icing) along with hints of vanilla and butter rum.
- G-LO: Ahhhh! My nose hairs are burning (guess I won’t have to trim them this month). Boy that’s hot! Gonna let this settle down some before going in again. 120 seconds later… That’s MUCH better. This stuff is super fragrant. Getting burnt sugar, spiced apple, clove, allspice, gingersnap cookies, cinnamon, and nutmeg. After adding exactly 12 drops of water (I counted), this whiskey opened up a wee bit more and more sweetness came through. Deep, dark, barrel aged maple syrup is what I’m thinking. Oddly enough, I’m also getting an herbally Vermouth note.
- Limpd: Wow! That is pretty strong. The whiskey has a medium mouthfeel with a lot of sweetness upfront. Then, a peppery spiciness kicks in and carries you to the finish with some additional smoky notes (tobacco and barrel char). The finish is long with a good bit of spice and then, as the burn fades, the sweetness returns.
- G-LO: Pretty oily and a little viscous with regards to the mouthfeel. The smallest taste is all you need to set off a flavor explosion on your tongue. For a whiskey that’s so young, it sure has some depth of flavor going on. Starts with that burnt sugar and a nice kick of gingery-cinnamon spice baked apple. Hot cinnamon and brown sugar at mid-palate. Long, hot, and sweet finish that brings it all together and adds some tobacco and leather plus all of those baking spices. Those 12 drops of water bring out more sweetness and some herbally notes too.
Limpd: While not a huge fan of rye whiskey, I found the Roaming Man to capture the sharpness of the rye but then introduce enough additional flavors (by adding corn and barley to the mash bill) to make it very multi-dimensional. Aged for just over 2 years, I really enjoyed it and I can only imagine how delicious this could be if it was aged for a longer period of time.
G-LO: I gotta admit, Roaming Man Rye is one seriously delicious and intense whiskey. And when you consider it’s relatively young age, I’m amazed at the depth of flavor that Sugarlands Distilling was able to achieve. If you take it slow, full strength is pretty manageable, but adding a little water definitely helps to open it up and makes it slightly more easy to drink (I said SLIGHTLY, so please don’t do shots of this whiskey. Better yet, never ever do shots). With the cold winter months right around the corner, I’m wishing that I had more of this whiskey to keep me warm on a frigid January or February night.