Food & Drink

Review: J.T. Meleck Louisiana Rice Whiskey

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JT Meleck Louisiana Rice Whiskey

Bourbon has lengthy outlined the American whiskey enterprise, although rye and single malts are fast-growing classes many drinkers are maintaining shut tabs on. However we could also be witnessing the genesis of a more recent homegrown spirit: American rice whiskey. With only a handful of producers, it’s a class whiskey drinkers can discover in a single sitting, with the chance to attempt a few of the first-ever expressions to hit the mass market.

In the present day we’re reviewing J.T. Meleck Louisiana Rice Whiskey, a 100% rice distillate aged in charred oak barrels. (Sound acquainted?) Whereas rice whiskey is commonplace in international locations like Japan, producing it America (and within the fashion of American whiskey) is a comparatively novel idea.

Although the spirit is new, at the very least one producer has fairly the historical past behind it. Louisiana-based J.T. Meleck Distillers was based by fourth-generation rice farmer Mike Frugé, whose nice, nice uncle John started rising rice on a 20 acre plot in 1896. In the present day, Frugé and his household nonetheless develop rice (and crawfish) on the land, albeit with a much-expanded farm.

Frugé says the choice to show a few of their crop to spirits is just like what American farmers have been doing for hundreds of years: changing grain to one thing with better financial potential. “We didn’t begin this simply as a pastime to be one thing cool that we did on the facet in our yard,” Frugé instructed Drinkhacker. “We have been searching for a means so as to add worth to our rice crop.”

Like many upstart craft distilleries, J.T. Meleck’s first spirit was a rice vodka, which we reviewed in 2021. Now, their first wide-release whiskey is available on the market with a four-year age assertion. It’s a very grain-to-glass product: the rice is grown, distilled, barreled, and aged in Southern Louisiana, a local weather the makers hope contributes to a novel growing old atmosphere.

In keeping with Frugé, the distillery is holding again about 30 % of their growing old inventory to see how further age — 6, 8, and even 10 years — impacts the spirit, so we could also be seeing considerably older American rice whiskey sooner or later.

The bottle tasted is from Batch 222. J.T. Meleck Louisiana Rice Whiskey carries a four-year age assertion, is bottled at 96 proof, and retails for $47 for a 750ml bottle. Let’s dive in.

On the nostril, there’s a wealthy and constant sweetness from the very starting. Regardless of the whiskey’s comparatively darkish shade, there’s virtually no perceptible oak scent; that barrel affect should come on the palate. Nosing once more provides candy caramel, praline, and just a bit baking spice, all backed with a perceptible word of ethanol (however not in a completely disagreeable means). I additionally get a pleasant little bit of caramel corn, sufficient in order that I needed to remind myself that is from 100% rice distillate. There are a selection of refined layers right here, and this actually doesn’t odor like several 4 yr previous bourbons or ryes I’ve tried lately.

The primary sip brings a reasonably skinny mouthfeel that coats the palate shortly in a subdued sweetness; there’s that caramel and praline. Once more, I don’t get a lot oak in any respect, although I’m curious if the forthcoming older expressions may have extra pronounced wooden notes. At 4 years, the rice distillate clearly doesn’t carry it the identical means as corn or rye. Subsequent sips convey extra candy notes: brown sugar, maybe slightly rice pudding with cinnamon. The style of cocoa powder is current, but it surely’s not a wealthy chocolate. After which there’s the slightest little bit of fruitiness right here that strikes again to the entrance of the tongue.

The end is longer than that preliminary mouthfeel suggests. It’s warming with cinnamon notes, and it feels such as you simply completed a little bit of that very same rice pudding, or perhaps a heat vacation eggnog with floor nutmeg on high. It’s creamy with a sweetened dairy high quality that I don’t get till the very finish, but it surely sticks with you properly.

J.T. Meleck’s four-year rice whiskey is a nice head scratcher. With out context, some bourbon or rye drinkers may be let down by a perceived lack of complexity. And also you actually aren’t getting that large, daring spice that constructed the repute of American bourbon and rye.

However this isn’t a bourbon, rye, or single malt, and evaluating it to these — at the very least straight — can be a disservice. It is a new(ish) and rising class of American whiskey, and J.T. Meleck has produced an enchanting and really drinkable spirit in its personal proper. I’ve been working my means by it and discovering new, refined flavors virtually each time. I doubt my bottle will final for much longer.

For a really cheap $47 — virtually a cut price amongst craft distillers lately — this can be a whiskey that’s virtually begging you to offer it a shot. I’d suggest doing so.

96 proof.

A- / $47 /

J.T. Meleck Louisiana Rice Whiskey




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