24 drams till Christmas tasting #10: Waldviertler Whisky J.H. Original Rye

Waldviertler Whisky J.H. Original RyeDram data:
Distillery: Waldviertler Whisky J.H.
Bottler: Original Bottling
Distilled: –
Bottled: ca. 2014
Age: at least 3 years
Limitation: –
Casks: Austrian oak “Manhartsberger Sommereiche”
Alcohol: 41%
unchillfiltered; natural colour
Whiskybase link

Tasting notes:
The nose is is unmistakeably rye – the typical rye spiciness is very apparent – but paired with a pronounced malty and wood-honey sweetness. Rather active casks were used, adding notes of wood (birch?) sap, juniper berries and cough lozenges.

There’s also a herbal, flowery hay and a slight acetone note but that’s about it. Not overly complex and rather light. The palate is very watery at first, not coating the entire mouth. It takes some time for the rye spiciness to come through and punch the tongue in a good way. Flavour-wise there’s a pronounced wormwood-like bitter note, probably due to the influence of the “Manhartsberger Sommereiche” Austrian (!) oak casks, oak sap, roasted nuts, dark raw cocoa powder, a hint of dark milk chocolate sweetness – a rather strange profile. The medium long finish also has a strong influence of oak and rye – spicy, sappy, slightly bitter-sweet, not unlike cough lozenges (but not as sweet).

Being Austrian myself I always like to try Austrian whiskies, like this one, made up of 60% rye and 40% malted barley. Well, it is quite okay and quaffable, far from being “bad”, but I’m not sure it’s designed to be enjoyed, savoured and dissected the way “we” usually enjoy whiskies. As a shot it is nice and flavourful – I can see this working very well as a good digestive after a traditional Austrian pork roast. On its own and carefully tasted it is driven by too active and quite sappy Austrian oak (which hasn’t really seen widespread use for maturing spirits to my knowledge – perhaps for a reason). I’m all for experimenting and differentiation – you don’t have to clone what Scots or Northern Americans are doing – but not every experiment yields an amazing result. Thus my quest to find a really good Austrian whisky on par with the world’s best spirits goes on.

Score: 67/100
(Nose: 72 Palate: 63 Finish: 69)

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