Sep 01, 2014

Pow-wow Botanical Rye Review

There is flavored whiskey… and then there is this. The...

Pow-Wow Botanical Rye Review

There is flavored whiskey… and then there is this. The Pow-Wow Botanical Rye is a very unique beast put out by the Georgetown Trading Co. who claim to draw inspiration from the Pow-wow’s of old to create this whiskey. Supposedly back in ye olden settler times it was customary to combine rye whiskey with herbs and spices to create a drink meant to be shared at the gatherings. Mountain men, traders, trappers natives and pioneers would then gather ’round the fire and get loaded on cups of rye and herbs and swap stories and tall tales about the expanding and then unknown America. Sounds kinda fun actually.

To create this new fangled olde fashioned recipe the folks at Georgetown secured some straight rye whiskey from some kind of 3rd party merchant producer like MGP (LDI) and then infused it with their botanical recipe. They don’t release the mashbill of the whiskey or the whole botanical recipe, but on their site they mention using saffron, orange peel and other whole botanicals with no extracts or artificial colors being added. A true craft-like approach and one I heartily approve of. By using actual botanicals they’re creating something new and unique and not just pushing out another cloying chemically tasting flavored whiskey.

Pow-Wow Botanical Rye Review

ABV: 45%
Price: $41
Distiller: Merchant producer (MGP / LDI ?)
Infuser & Bottler: Georgetown Trading Co.

Dark copper.

Pow WOW. Insanely complex herbal nose with the orange peel making a rather big showing. Under the orange peel lie notes of clove, cinnamon, nutmeg, anise and pepper. There is a big ball of ambiguous spice in the background that I attribute to the traditional rye spice blending with the botanicals to create something completely different than I’m used to in a rye.

The palate confirms what the nose suggested with rolling waves of orange peel and spices. Clove and anise seem the lead on the palate with pepper, tobacco cinnamon, nutmeg and a punch of leather coming up behind. Again there is a floor of ambiguous and dynamic spice.

The herbs definitely outweigh the rye and from that aspect leaves it feeling unbalanced. From a pure herbal perspective it’s very nicely balanced without one ingredient fully dominating the others. It has a medium body and I’m a bit shocked how smooth and non-cloying it is to drink.

All hints of rye seem to have disappeared from the finish and instead it’s a long slow fade of anise, clove, cinnamon, orange peel, juniper, leather and a raw “spice” flavor. Much more like a barrel aged gin than a rye here.

Overall it’s actually quite good. I’m not a huge gin fan and there are aspects of it that remind me more of a gin than a rye whiskey, but unlike gin there isn’t a huge wallop of juniper berries plodding it’s way through the nose and palate. The botanicals in here come across more like a mix of baking spices and cider spices giving it a great dessert quality that makes it feel right at home as a digestif or cocktail base. Which, for me, makes it’s more of an every-now-and-then-to-mix-things-up kind of drink and not something I want to come home to everyday.

SCORE: 82/100

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tagged rye, botanical, pow-wow, review