McKenzie Single Barrel 3 Year Ice Wine Finish

American Whiskey Review #37: McKenzie Single Barrel 3 Year Ice Wine Finish

Distillery: Finger Lakes

Region: New York

Price: $8 for a 2 oz sample

ABV: 49.3%, Cask Strength (apparently)

Age: 3 Year & 1 Month plus and additional 5 weeks in ice wine casks.

Mashbill: 80% Rye, 20% Malted Barley

Cask Type: Finished in ice wine casks

Cask No.: #1922

Color: 1.3, Russet/Muscat.


Nose: (according to the wife) There’s a very musky, damp earth smell to it all. It’s almost somewhere between wet moss and kombucha.

Palate: The first taste you get is of the rye. The characteristic baking spices along with a bit of earthiness from the grain come out right away. After a few moments on the tongue, there comes a very cooling and sweet note of the ice wine. You get a mouthful of sweet, slightly fermented grapes along with a bit of mint and menthol.

Finish: Medium in length. The mint and menthol continue on and linger for a little bit.

Conclusion: I still distinctly remember the first time I tried ice wine. The wife and I were in the Niagara Falls area visiting a winery when we mentioned to the lady manning the tasting bar that we were from California and hadn’t had much Canadian wine. She got this look of determination on her face and promptly whipped out two glasses and poured us some ice wine. I have to admit, it was incredible and this whisky took me back to that moment. There’s a very cooling element along with an intense sweetness and fruitiness that really reminds me of ice wine and I really enjoyed that aspect of this whisky. Unfortunately, I can’t help but think that rye was the wrong choice of grain to pair with it. The spicy and warm rye notes just seem to clash with the cool and sweet ice wine notes. Neither quite complements the other. Perhaps a pure malt whiskey would have been better or one where the ratio of barley to rye is flipped. Still, interesting whisky and I’m glad to have tried it!

Final Score: 77.

American Whiskey Review #38, Rye Review #8, Whisky Network Review #249


Scoring Legend:

  • 96-100: The perfect dram, nectar of the gods.
  • 90-95: Near perfect, there is something truly special about this whisky.
  • 85-89: Amazing, will always try to keep a bottle of this in my collection (if feasible).
  • 80-84: Very Good, maybe only one minor nitpick about the whisky keeping it here.
  • 75-79: Good, quite enjoyable to drink.
  • 70-74: Solid, wouldn’t go out of my way to get it.
  • 60-69: Meh, still drinkable.
  • Below 59: If you have a bottle of this, start cooking with it instead.

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