Nevada’s Frey Ranch is one of those farm distilleries that I keep hearing about but never had an opportunity to experience until now. The farm has been in operation since the 1800s and CEO Colby Frey is the fifth-generation owner and CEO. Distilling on a 2500 acre farm certainly has its perks. Every part of the distillery’s production and operation is handled on-site: the crops used for their whiskies are all grown, harvested, and malted on the ranch.
Upon first inspection of this release, I noticed a few interesting things about the physical packaging itself. First, this is a four grain bourbon made from corn, rye, wheat, and barley. In the past, I have found that four grain whiskies often have a bit of an identity crisis. As flavoring grains, rye and wheat often have opposite effects on a whiskey. Rye adds spice and punch to a bourbon while wheat often adds additional softness. Using them together is quite a challenge.
I was also struck by the detail that went into the packaging. The glass itself is sturdy, the etching is intricate, the bottle is distinctly shaped, and the cork is truly striking. I hope as much time went into making a solid product as was put into making this bottle stand out on a shelf. One thing that has me hopeful is that this is non-chill filtered and that tells me that the distillery is in tune with what today’s modern whiskey drinker is looking for.
Frey Ranch Straight Bourbon is at least four years old and bottled at 90 proof. At $49.99 retail, it’s priced fairly competitively in the craft whiskey arena. Is the liquid inside this ornate bottle valued appropriately?
|Nose||Cherry cola, toffee, hints of mint, clove, a bit grassy, lemon zest, graham crackers, cinnamon red hots. With water, menthol and a sugary sweetness comes out.|
|Taste||Lemon custard, vanilla, earthy, light brown sugar, toasted oak, dried cherries, corn sweetness. Water brings out hard candy, Corn Flakes, and a light flaky pastry note.|
|Finish||Tons of baking spice up front, herb garden, vanilla bean, fresh cut 2x4s, dark dried fruits. The finish is oakier and more herbal with water.|
|Overall Thoughts||Color me impressed. For a four year old expression, there aren’t any “young” notes here. There are many craft whiskey brands on shelves these days that just aren't ready for primetime. These releases can often taste “green,” spirity, and are in need of further aging to round out those rough edges. That’s not the case here. Frey Ranch is clearly doing things right from grain to glass. I’m truly looking forward to exploring more from this distillery as their stocks continue to age at bit.|