Wheel Horse Rye Whiskey

Wheel Horse Rye Whiskey

Boston-based Latitude Beverage is launching Wheel Horse Rye, its first whiskey, this month.

And it’s made at Owensboro’s O.Z. Tyler Distillery.

Last fall, Duke Spirits unveiled its new bourbon and rye, made at O.Z. Tyler from a recipe created by actor John Wayne in 1962.

And Jacob Call, master distiller and director of operations at O.Z. Tyler, said he expects several other national companies to announce whiskeys made at the distillery before the year ends.

“New exciting things are happening here,” he said. “We just had another group in yesterday talking with us.”

A Lattitude news release says, “Wheel Horse is a straight rye whiskey, traditionally crafted by Master Distiller Jacob Call, a third-generation distiller and seventh-generation Kentuckian.”

Call said it was a recipe that he had created earlier that Latitude wanted to use.

“Bottled at 101 proof, the small batch sour mash whiskey is made with a grain bill of 95% rye and 5% malted barley,” the news release.

That’s different from traditional rye whiskey, which is made with 51% rye, Call said.

A recent review in Paste Magazine praised the new rye.

“On the nose, this is a modern, high-rye whiskey for sure,” it says. “Big peppery rye and lots of baking spices hit big immediately, with ‘charred cinnamon stick’ appearing prominently. Orange essential oil and black cherry fruitiness announce their presence as well, but the really big note is a fairly intense brown sugar sweetness. It certainly projects more of a sense of richness than I was expecting.”

It concludes, “All in all, this wasn’t quite the dryer, spicier rye I was expecting, but I found myself charmed by it regardless. Certainly, this is very flavorful, and much richer in profile than something like Rittenhouse. That’s a bit against the prevailing cocktail culture when it comes to use in classic rye cocktails, but I actually think it’s likely to acquit itself very well in them regardless. All in all, I’d say I like this even more than the Old Forester Rye when it comes to selecting a budget cocktail rye, and I think it could have challenged for the top spot in our blind tasting of cheap ryes had it been available then.”

Wheel Horse is aged two to three years at O.Z. Tyler.

Call said production began soon after the distillery opened in 2016.

“America has seen a resurgence of rye whiskey over the past decade, and there’s no end in sight to its impressive growth,” Terry Lozoff, Latitude Beverage’s vice president of marketing and spirits director, said in a news release. “We are excited to enter this category, and even more excited to be doing so in partnership with O.Z. Tyler; a distillery with roots dating back to the late 1800s, and that once produced whiskeys for historic brands like Ezra Brooks, Green River and Old Medley. We are proud that Wheel Horse is the first aged rye to come out of the fully restored O.Z. Tyler.”

The whiskey will be sold throughout the Northeast as well as in Colorado, California and Illinois, the news release said.

The 750-milliliter bottles are expected to retail for $27.99.

Lattitude also owns 90+ Cellars, Lila Wines, Iron Side Cellars and Steel Dust Vodka.

The news release said, “In the coming years, we plan to release more whiskeys that celebrate this great, historic distillery (O.Z. Tyler) and the new path that it is on.”

Call said they’re working on several things for the future.

Last year, Forbes magazine wrote, “The rye whiskey industry never recovered from Prohibition. The absence of aged inventories put them at a disadvantage against foreign producers, while a government policy of encouraging corn production further hampered rye growers. Bourbon was easier to distill than the notoriously fickle rye and cheaper to produce.”

It added, “By 2006, rye sales had declined to virtually nothing. That year bourbon outsold rye whiskey by more than a 100-to-1 ratio. Rye whiskey’s fortunes were about to turn, however. By 2009, sales of rye whiskey had inched up to 88,000 9-liter cases, according to the Distillers Council of the US. That was still a paltry $15 million in sales, about as much bourbon as was sold on a good weekend. Sales increased steadily, however. By 2018, rye whiskey sales had soared to over 1.057 million cases, a 12-fold increase.”

Call said the popularity of rye is linked to the growing “cocktail culture” because it works well in mixed drinks.

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