Whiskey Review: J. Rieger & Co. 2023 Monogram Kansas City Whiskey Solera Reserve

Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by the party behind it. 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 in this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs. 

J. Rieger’s in Kansas City, Missouri, is reviving a pre-Prohibition style of whiskey production and experimenting with aging practices from historic Sherry production. Today, I’m sampling the latest edition of their Sherry-influenced whiskey: the J. Rieger & Co. 2023 Monogram Kansas City Whiskey Solera Reserve.

We are living in an exciting moment in American whiskey production: entrepreneurs are reviving old distilleries that were shut somewhere between Prohibition and the mid-20th century. The fruits of these labors are coming to our Glencairns now. This isn’t just a Kentucky phenomenon; states less commonly associated with American whiskey are experiencing this renewal, too.

In 2014, Missouri was able to boast of its own revival experience when J. Rieger’s reopened after almost a century. Originally founded in 1887 and shuttered in 1919, a group that includes a descendent of the original founder, Jacob Rieger, and local bartender and restaurateur, Ryan Maybee, reopened J. Rieger’s. Dave Pickerell of Maker’s Mark, who passed away in 2018, provided guidance to the pair.

Before Prohibition, distilleries were taxed on spirits when distilled instead of when released to the public. Cash flow demanded whiskeys be released young, so distillers invented ways to give the impression of age. According to the distillery, one method was to add oxidized Sherry before bottling. To mimic this style, J. Rieger uses a method they call “Kansas City Style” for their flagship bottling. The distillery ages a blend of whiskeys for at least four years and adds William & Humbert’s 15-year-old Sherry. This Sherry is a lightly sweetened oloroso. This style of Sherry is fully oxidized and full-bodied with lush notes of dried fruits, toasted nuts, and bruised apples.

As a further twist, J. Rieger’s began finishing the same base that makes up the flagship in a Sherry solera system using Sherry casks. A traditional Sherry solera system is a form of fractional blending. The oldest barrels are where the liquid is drawn off for bottling. Only part of the contents is drawn off, and barrels are topped up using liquid from the next youngest barrels. This continues through however many levels are used. The youngest barrels receive the new vintage. In the case of this whiskey, the youngest finishing barrels receive the new stock of aged whiskey to join the solera.

The 2023 release includes a “blend of straight bourbon, straight rye, and light corn whiskey” from the distillery’s solera started in 2015. Finishing took place for up to four years in 500-liter oloroso Sherry casks. They sourced ten of these 50-100 year-old casks from the production line of Bodegas Williams & Humbert Oloroso Especial, the same Sherry used in their flagship bottling.

Rieger’s 2023 Monogram Whiskey review

We review J. Rieger & Co. 2023 Monogram Kansas City Whiskey Solera Reserve, aged in new American oak and finished for up to four years in 50-100 year-old oloroso Sherry casks. (image via J. Rieger & Co.)

Tasting Notes: J. Rieger & Co. 2023 Monogram Kansas City Whiskey Solera Reserve

Vital Stats: Aged in new American oak and finished for up to four years in 50-100 year-old oloroso Sherry casks, 50% ABV, mash bill: undisclosed, SRP $130/ 750ml bottle.

Appearance: This is moderate amber in color with a brown undertone.

Nose: On first pour, the nose is sweet and caramel-forward. I pick up notes of snickerdoodle cookies with mini marshmallows, maple syrup, and graham crackers. The golden-brown-and-delicious notes start to fade within a few minutes. Since I tasted this blind, I was suddenly left wondering if I had mixed up glasses. This completely changed in the glass from bold caramel, to buttered popcorn, to sulfur and shoe polish. Revisiting a few days later, I found this to be profoundly impacted by the Sherry. It dominates layers of the aromatics, though suggestions of the base whiskey peek through occasionally.

Palate: On the palate, this is moderate in body with moderate astringency and a fiery finish. The flavors are mostly from the Sherry: toasted pecans, oxidized apple core, yellow peaches, and toasted coconut. Sipping, the shoe polish note comes through again with light notes of orchard fruits, lemon zest, and golden raisins.

The finish is long and lingering with notes of yellow plums, graham crackers, pencil shavings, and campfire smoke. Fortunately, the sulfur note has blown off after I allowed the bottle to sit undisturbed for several days. There was a thick swirl of precipitates in my sample bottle that settled to the bottom. Usually, I am not bothered by sediment, but this significantly altered the taste.

Source link

Shopping Basket
%d bloggers like this: