The Very Olde St. Nick Summer Rye was the second whiskey we tried that night, but the first VOSN of the evening and moving from the 4 yr. Willett to this was a palate shocker. Where the 4 yr. Willett screamed rye this made me initially think of bourbon with it’s sweetness and low rye spice. That’s not really a bad thing, just something interesting and worth noting is all.
If you’re not familiar with them, the Very Olde St. Nick line is a group of bourbon and rye whiskeys that are created specifically for the Japanese export market. We know that their bourbons come from the legendary Stitzel-Weller stocks (at least until recently), but their rye is a bit of a mystery. I’ve read the rye comes from Heaven Hill or Barton, but there is no real confirmation and when I tried reaching out to people about it I didn’t get a reply; so we’re left with nothing more than speculation.
Very Olde St. Nick Summer Rye Review
Age: Many Summers Old
Price: NA – Prices vary due to rarity (Japan export)
Bottler: The Kulsveens
Sweet notes come out to play first. Caramel, dark fruit like cherries and overripe strawberries, red licorice, vanilla and a burst of citrus. Some light notes of butterscotch mingle with some soft spice and a hint of something raw. There is an overall sugary / candy like quality to the nose. I wouldn’t have picked this to be a rye if I hadn’t known.
Again the sweet notes are up first with notes of caramel, muddled dark fruit and butterscotch. They’re followed by some rye that’s a bit bolder than on the nose, raw grains, a light biscuity quality. Just like the nose I would have thought this was a bourbon if tasting blind.
BALANCE, BODY & FEEL
The sweet notes really overpower the spice notes here and leave it feeling a bit unbalanced. A medium body with a light, but not spineless, texture.
Medium in length and powered by sugary notes like caramel and dark fruit with some bits of rye spice and a touch of young astringent wood.
Has a very bourbony character to it with the sweet notes coming in ahead of the rye notes every time. The delivery on this one reminded me more of the 51% rye mash bills like Jim Beam Rye, Rittenhouse Rye or Sazerac Rye. The sweet sticky nose, palate and finish definitely needed a bit more earthy spice to fully read as a rye. Still, it’s a nice drinkable whiskey that was fun to experience. It just didn’t really scream rye to me.
SCORE: 80-84/100 (range given due to having it at a tasting and not in a controlled environment)