If you follow us along at all, you’ll know we like our rye whiskey, and we like really like MGP rye whiskey as well. However, drinking whiskey that’s been distilled at the same place over and over again can get monotonous, so we always like to try different rye whiskey that’s distilled elsewhere. Laws Rye Whiskey is one of our favorites and is distilled in Colorado. This time we are giving Oregon Spirit Rye Whiskey a try. It’s distilled in Oregon and uses Oregon grown grains. Also, it’s won a double gold at San Fran’s World Spirits Competition.
In this Oregon Spirit Rye Review, we’re going to cover some basic history, the price, taste, and have a comprehensive overview of the whiskey. We’re going to find out if Oregon Spirit Rye deserves the double gold it won and let you know if it’s worth purchasing.
Oregon Spirit Distillers History
Brad and Kathy Irwin founded Oregon Spirit Distillers in 2009. Their goal was to create unique and tasteful whiskey in Oregon, with local grains.
Brad initially distilled whiskey at his home for himself. After awhile he decided he wanted to make a full company out of this. With just a couple years of planning, he was able to get licensed and immediately start distilling whiskey in 2009, which is very impressive because so many companies start out by sourcing whiskey and then build a distillery. Brad and Kathy jumped right in.
Oregon Spirit Distillers is located in Bend, Oregon and is still a family-owned company to this day.
Oregon Spirit Rye Overview
- Spirit: Straight American Rye Whiskey
- Distilled By: Oregon Spirit Distillers
- Aged: 4 years
- ABV: 45%, 90 proof
- Mashbill: 100% Oregon Rye
- Price: $50
Before taking a sip, I already like Oregon Spirit Distillers and their rye whiskey. They let you know it’s single grain (100% rye), they have a 4 year age statement even though they don’t need to disclose that (any American whiskey aged at least 4 years can forego listing an age statement), they let you know the grain is from the high desert region of Oregon, and they give you the barrel series of the bottle.
Oregon Spirit Distillers is open about exactly what goes in the bottle of its rye whiskey. They started out by distilling their own whiskey, and they use locally sourced grains for their mashbill. Up to this point, what’s not to like? Hopefully it’s not the whiskey.
The $50 price tag should be standard across the US at all Total Wine stores as it’s a Spirits Direct product. It is on the expensive side, but that’s expected when you’re looking at a smaller brand that distills their own whiskey and doesn’t source it.
Oregon Spirit Rye Tasting Notes
I have high hopes for Oregon Spirit Rye Whiskey. Up to this point, I appreciate and respect everything about their company and the way they do things. However, that only goes so far. You still have to make good whiskey. It’s time to pour a dram and find out for myself. These tasting notes are from a neat pour.
Nose: mint, wet oak, a sweet floral nose comes out strong in the glass. Jasmine, light rye spice, touch of honey. After a couple sips, I’m getting some cinnamon spice on the nose that wasn’t present before.
Palate: I get a blast of mint as soon as it touches the front of my tongue. From there, rye spice takes over with some pepper and licorice. A pleasant mouthfeel that is on the thicker side of things.
Finish: A long finish that sees mint make its way back in the midst of a powerful floral flavor with a touch of white pepper.
The Irwin’s set out to create unique whiskey, and they’ve certainly done that here with Oregon Spirit Rye. The nose was pleasant with a good mix of sweet and floral notes that reminded me of jasmine flowers/plants. There was some honey and cinnamon that mixed together to more of an cinnamon apple. There’s also a minty undertone to the nose throughout.
The palate is thick and rich that immediately presents itself with a hint of mint on the tongue. The mint transitions into a rye spice and honey, but is brought back on the finish. Even with the mint, though, the finish is decidedly floral. A light pepper from the rye is present as well.
Ultimately, I really enjoyed my glass of Oregon Spirit Rye neat. It’s unique and different which is something many of us are thankful for instead of a typical, inoffensive whiskey.
With that being said, I really don’t like this whiskey over ice. Ice or a splash of water can be helpful or hurtful to a whiskey by muting flavors and bringing others out. Here, an ice cube took away almost all the flavor except mint. There was a floral undertone to the mint, so more of a eucalyptus that had a medicinal quality to it. This whiskey is meant to be enjoyed neat.
This is a quality whiskey in terms of richness, thickness, and overall mouthfeel. As I said, it’s also unique. I don’t think it’s so unique as to be hated by a significant amount of people, just unique as it’s not something you are going to drink all night long. That’s a good thing.
We all have our staple whiskeys. Some staples are every night type of whiskeys. This is probably something on the lower half of your budget. For us, it’s the $25-40 bottles. Then you have your staple bottles for special occasions, nice dinner parties, etc., that are a little more expensive.
But don’t you ever get tired of drinking the same thing? Or get tired of drinking the same flavor profile? Oregon Spirit Rye Whiskey is the perfect bottle to have on your shelf for when you want to try something new, for when you want to mix it up.
I would absolutely love if this bottle was $10-15 cheaper, but the $50 price point matches the quality and is a fair price. If you like trying new whiskeys and experimenting with different flavor profiles, get yourself a bottle of Oregon Spirit Rye.
Oregon Spirit Rye Summary
Brad and Kathy Irwin set out to create an Oregon grain-to-glass whiskey that is unique, interesting, and tasteful, and they did exactly that. In a market where sourcing whiskey from the big guys is much cheaper and easier, the Irwin’s bet on themselves and it seems to have paid off. I appreciate and respect what they’ve built and the whiskey they’ve made.
Oregon Spirit Distillers distills multiple whiskeys as well as vodka, gin, and absinthe. If you’ve had any of their other selections and they are worth trying, let us know in the comments!
Priced at $50, Oregon Spirit Rye Whiskey is more expensive than many of your typical options, but it’s worth trying, especially if you are bored of your typical options. But remember, this whiskey is MUCH BETTER when enjoyed neat than over ice.