I spend a lot of time reading about whiskeys in an effort to determine what I want to add to my collection. As is often the case with many whiskey enthusiasts, much of my collection originates from what is arguably the motherland of whiskey, The Blue Grass State of Kentucky. However, as I continue to skip down the “yellow brick road” of craft whiskey, I’ve had the fortune to discover some fantastic products from other states like Vermont, Utah, Alaska, Tennessee, Oregon and Michigan, just to name a few. However, just as little Dorothy Gale discovered in the 1939 classic The Wizard of Oz, sometimes “There’s no place like home”.
Home for me is in Ohio, perhaps best known for its politics, The Ohio State Buckeyes, one reasonably good pro football team and one pro football team that continually disappoints its fans. Oh yeah, and then there’s that basketball player named LeBron. What you may not know, however, is that there are couple of small distilleries in Columbus, OH, that are producing some really good spirits. Specifically, Middlewest Spirits the makers of the OYO brand and Watershed Distillery. Check out the links above for a full description their product lines, but today I’d like to talk about two little gems that I added to my collection this past weekend. Watershed’s Bourbon and OYO’ s Pumpernickel Rye.
is the brainchild of Greg Lehman and Dave Rigo, whos company name pays homage to the “Watershed Moments” that shape an individual’s life. I recall visiting their facility a little
over 4 years ago, shortly after they opened their doors. At the time, it was a very small operation located in a very unassuming industrial suite. After listening to the historical schpeel, we tasted their vodka, gin and bourbon. To be perfectly honest, the most impressive part of the visit was the logoed glasses that are still a mainstay in my home bar.
In recent weeks, I’ve had my own Watershed moment as my curiosity got the best of me and I decided to give Watershed Bourbon another try. Mr. Wizard, I’m glad I did. Age has been good to this easy to drink spirit. Bottled at 94 proof, the nose is crisp and clean with a mild oakiness and perhaps a hint of citrus. The taste is equally crisp and enjoyable with minimal burn.
My Take: Don’t be fooled by the unassuming label that may remind you of the “generic” product craze of the 90s. This is a very good bourbon worthy of a place in your collection. At a $40 price point, it is great as a mixer but also quite nice neat. Whether you’re new to whiskeys or a real enthusiast, I think you’ll have your own Watershed moment when you try it!
OYO Dark Pumpernickel Rye Whiskey is the latest product from Co-founders
Brady Konya and Ryan Lang of Middlewest Spirits. Middlewest has been in business since 2008 and producing product since 2010. As is typical with newer distilleries, their initial products were young and in need of age and refinement. Today, however, they make some of my favorite whiskeys (i.e. Olroso Wheat and Michelone Reserve Bourbon); and now I’m adding OYO Dark Pumpernickel Rye to the list.
With a complex yet soothing nose, this rye product makes me dream of warm sweet comfort foods. When you try this, take some extra time to let the nose take you on this midwestern journey. Inspect its long slow legs and when you can no longer wait, take a sip. No, you’re not in Kansas anymore. This is a full-bodied rye that will keep your interest all the way to the Emerald City.
My Take: This product was just released at the end of 2015, so it can be a little tough to find, but if you see it on the shelf, grab it! At $55, drink it neat or over ice, although it would probably mix quite well in a cocktail. Aged at least 3 years, it is mature enough to hold it’s own against any other rye that I’ve tried. Although I think any whiskey drinker would enjoy this, those of you with a deep appreciation for rye’s will really treasure this jewel.
Until next time, Drink Passionately!