Pancakes and Whiskey was invited to a tasting for one of the newest whiskey products on the market last Wednesday night at The Cannibal in Manhattan. We entered through what seemed to be a wardrobe-sized pub, which opened up into a beautiful, country-style garden. Four tables lay dressed in paper placemats, red-striped cloth napkins, and several tasting glasses filled with various ambers. I was ready for what came next: “Old Fashioned, anyone?” asked the waitress. Yes, please.
Guiding us through the process of tasting was Dave Schmier, co-owner of Redemption Whiskey. Dave and his partner, Michael Kanbar, had the idea to go into whiskey during a business trip in Kentucky. The search for the perfect bourbon rye barrels had begun. The only issue was that no one wanted to sell the best of their barrels. Dave and Mike finally met a willing contender at the Seagram Distillery in Lawrenceburg, Indiana. One taste and it was a match.
The inspiration for the brand name came from the history behind rye. Before the prohibition period, rye was in great demand and used as a main ingredient for many popular recipes. Today, more and more people are once again drinking whiskey and the demand in Wine & Spirit companies has gone up immensely. Thus, the name: Redemption.
The whiskies consisted of Redemption Straight Rye Whiskey, Redemption High Rye Bourbon, Redemption Rye, Redemption White Whiskey, and, and select limited-edition barrels like the 6-year-old and the 8-year-old. Last, but certainly not least, we had the pleasure of trying the 10-year-old, which goes for about $200 a bottle.
To build our palette, we tasted youngest to oldest. The full-bodied richness and flavor that comes from a longer time spent in the barrel is smooth and perfect for sipping alone. The younger whiskies are sharper and recommended for cocktails. My personal favorite was the High-Rye with a mash bill of 60% corn, 36% rye, and 4% barley malt. The flavor had a warm spice and a clover honey essence. A more unusual whiskey was the White Rye. Clear in color, the White Rye spends no time in the barrel and strikes a delicate balance between a citrus kick and a smooth, creamy finish. I imagine this type of whiskey is best sipped on its own, or used as a substitute for tequila in a fruity mixed drink.
Near the end of the tasting and nibbling of appetizers, we faced our greatest task for the evening: blending our very own whiskies. The plates were cleared; goodbye, blood sausage, beet salad, tuna tartar, potato wedges, and spaghetti squash. Now it’s time for the real fun. Over the intimate setting of a dining table, perfect strangers came together to #blendIn. We shared our proportions and sampled each other’s mixes. We focused our pours into white funnels that streamed into large glass beakers. Lastly, we captured our blends and labeled our bottles with the same individual care that seems to go into every product at Redemption. Please join in the resurrection of the great American tradition that is rye whiskey, and let us welcome its arrival with Redemption.
Article: Tiffany Wilson