Editor’s Note: This product was provided to us as a review sample by Crater Lake Spirits. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the buy link towards the bottom of this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.
Crater Lake Spirits has released a rock and rye bottled cocktail made using their own rye whiskey. The central Oregon distillery used the classic old-fashioned flavors of “dark cherry, blood orange, and house-made bitters” as inspiration. These flavors are delicious; the intense fruity sweetness is reminiscent of the drink’s medicinal days (though not in a bad way).
The rock and rye cocktail dates back to the 19th century, when many pharmacies extolled it as a medicine for everything from coughs to consumption to cancer. Part of this may have been the fact that, as a medicine, rock and rye was taxed at a lower rate than liquor. In 1883, the drink was reclassified as a distilled spirit with the minimum requirements of being made with rye or a whiskey with rye mash, containing rock sugar or simple syrup, and having a 25.5% minimum ABV. Fruit or other flavors are popular, but not required.
Crater Lake Spirits, founded in 1996, label its spirits as “timeless bar staples with a modern twist.” They have lines of vodkas, gins, and whiskies. They also have limited releases of other spirits, but many of those are only available in their tasting rooms. They pride themselves on their company’s commitment to sustainability: their bottles and packaging are recyclable and made from recycled materials.
A full list of their efforts, as well as how they are giving back to their community, can be found on their website.
Tasting Notes: Crater Lake Rock & Rye
Vital Stats: 30% ABV, 750 ml $22-$32.
Appearance: The liquid is clear amber that turns gold when held up to the light.
Nose: A strong cherry fragrance with orange behind it. It’s difficult to assess the notes of the actual rye under the strong scent of the flavoring.
Palate: The palate is the inversion of the nose, with the sweet orange flavor being the strongest with the cherry following after. There is a light bitters flavor and a medium sweet finish.