I don’t drink as much barrel finished whiskey as I’d like to. Barrel finishing adds to a whiskey, but sometimes the addition is for the better, and sometimes it makes the whiskey worse. Regardless, trying different barrel finished whiskeys is always fun and enjoyable for me. So, today we’re taking a look at Ammunition Rye Whiskey finished in Pinot Noir Casks.
Ammunition Distillery is a non-producing distiller (NDP). Essentially, this means that they purchase their whiskey from elsewhere and bottle it under their own name. Ammunition Distillery does add one step, though, as they finish the whiskey in their Ammunition Pinot Noir barrels (Cabernet Sauvignon barrels for the bourbon).
Daylight Wine & Spirits is a winery located in the Sonoma County of California. While their specialty is wine, they’ve come out with a whiskey that we’re looking forward to trying.
Ammunition Rye Whiskey Overview
- Spirit: Straight Rye Whiskey Finished in Pinot Noir casks
- Owned By: Ammunition Distillery / Daylight Wine & Spirits / Andy Wahl and Bill Kerr
- Distilled By: MGP
- Aged: NAS, finished for 3+ months in Ammunition Pinot Noir casks (French Oak)
- ABV: 45%, 90 Proof
- Mashbill: 95% rye, 5% malted barley
- Price: $40-45
You can find 100 whiskeys, particularly rye whiskey, that’s been distilled by MGP in Lawrenceburg, Indiana. Companies buy a barrel, bottle it up, and slap their name on it. There’s nothing wrong with this, I, for one, LOVE MGP rye whiskeys. If you can find a cask strength MGP rye, they are delightful – Southern Collective offers a couple really good ones out of Tennessee. However, it does take away from the artistry and fun of trying new whiskeys that are produced by craft distilleries.
Ammunition adds some of that artistry back by aging the rye whiskey from MGP in their own in-house produced wine. Ammunition Rye is finished in Ammunition Pinot Noir casks while Ammunition Bourbon is finished in Ammunition Cabernet Sauvignon casks.
There is no age statement on Ammunition Whiskey, but I don’t think they are allowed to. When it comes to flavored whiskey, an age statement is not allowed. I’m not sure if that’s the case or not with finished whiskeys, but I think it is. Typically a NAS (no age statement) whiskey must be 4+ years, but Daylight Wine and Spirits says it’s a blend of 2, 3, and 4 year whiskey.
Once Daylight Wine & Sprits receive their already aged whiskey from MGP, they transfer the whiskey over to their used wine casks that are made from French oak. Of course the wine is going to introduce some darker fruits, but French oak is known for having a nuttier profile than American oak. The whiskey spends a minimum of 3 months in these casks before being bottled by Ammunition Distillery.
Ammunition Rye Whiskey Tasting Notes
We’ve covered the basics, let’s find out if Ammunition Rye Whiskey is any good! We’re going to be focused on the balance between the Pinot Noir cask finish and the MGP distilled rye whiskey.
Nose: Lighter than I expected, and sweet. Dark fruits mingle with citrus undertones, caramel and brown sugar with a little floral rye spice makes it’s way in. Some mint sits in as well.
Palate: The rye is overshadowed by the wine cask, but they mesh well. Plum and fig from the wine cask, but you can still pick out the citrus and mint from the MGP rye. A coating mouthfeel.
Finish: Honey, brown sugar, and some dark fruits sit around for a medium finish in length. More of a dry finish with some oak in there as well.
I’m a little surprised by this whiskey, and I really like it. Sometimes a wine cask finish can totally overpower a whiskey, and other times it’s very underwhelming. The wine cask provides the more predominant flavors, but the rye is strong enough to stay prominent throughout the sip.
I’d say it’s a touch youthful and not very complex, the notes are kinda just there, so it lacks subtlety and some richness. Ultimately, though, the flavors are well put together which makes for this to be a quite enjoyable whiskey.
Ammunition Rye Pinot Noir Casks Finish Summary
The rye whiskey market is dominated by MGP. While MGP makes phenomenal whiskey, it can be a bit overdone and repetitive. Ammunition Rye adds a nice spin to the MGP/rye whiskey scene that adds a breath of fresh air.
Is Ammunition Rye the best whiskey out there? No. Is it a good whiskey at a reasonable price? Absolutely. If you’re a fan of wine or looking to try various cask finished whiskey, Ammunition is a good whiskey to check out – their rye or bourbon!