Penelope Tokaji Cask Finish Rye is one of the best ryes under $100 currently hitting the marketplace.
Penelope’s recent release of a Tokaji Cask Finish rye expression is yet another home run from this independent distiller that has garnered a lot of attention in the whiskey community.
When you are deep into whiskey you can’t help but appreciate a smaller, independent distiller who takes the time and care to produce quality offerings. With what seems like a new distillery or bottler popping up every week, Penelope Bourbon stands out and makes grand statements.
They hit big in the bourbon community with their four grain and toasted barrel expressions, and as part of their ongoing Cooper Series, Penelope has released a Tokaji Cask Finish rye that will surely become a favorite among collectors.
Unlike the two prior releases in this series — Rosé and Valencia — Penelope went for a cask that few whiskey blenders and distillers use as a maturing barrel, Tokaji, a wine from Hungary that is rich in sweet harvest fruits and floral notes.
One suggestion on this bottle from experience, let it air out and open up. Don’t judge by the first pour. The differences in both nose and palate after the bottle has been opened for a week or more are very noticeable.
Penelope Tokaji Cask Finish Rye Description
Mash bill: 95% Rye, 5% Malted Barley
ABV: 53.5 %
Color: Deep amber, light caramel
Age: 6 years
Bottle Size: 750 ml
Private Barrels Available: Yes
Penelope Tokaji Cask Finish Rye Tasting Notes
Nose: Brown sugar, orchard green apple, and apricot are the predominant notes in what is a wonderfully inviting nose. Deeper sniffs will find citrusy notes, including orange pith and lemon. Nosing after each sip also seems to reveal more of the floral characters. I experienced a lot of waxiness in the nose as well.
Palate: The palate opens with what might be considered more traditional rye tastes, with grass and rye spice at the forefront. It quickly moves to more of the harvest fruit and kitchen spices, with a lot of orange zest appearing as the finish approaches. It’s almost a tropical, honeylike experience. The sweetness pulled from the wine casks is a perfect compliment to the earthy rye notes.
The mouthfeel is slightly acidic, but not astringent at all. Like most ryes, it lacks a lot of creamy viscous feel to it. The proof is perfect on this pour at 107, as it has that perfect blend of sweetness and warmth.
Finish: The initial pour when the bottle was cracked was a nearly zero-finish dram. It was one of the most disappointing characteristics of this bottle. But, upon allowing the distillate to oxidate for about 10 days, the finish has appeared and is quite long, clinging to the citrusy notes that preceded.
Conclusions: For a sub-$100 rye that has matured in sweet wine casks such as Tokaji, this may be one of the best bargains out there. Both bourbon and rye enthusiasts will find plenty to enjoy in this bottle. Just as the Mizunara cask and toasted barrel became the sexy picks among many distillers, it wouldn’t surprise me to find that Penelope has blazed a new trend with this offering.