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Jacquins Rock & Rye with Choice Fruits Liqueur (750ml)
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- ABV 27%
Not a straight rye, but a bar room relic and an interesting product nonetheless.
Historically, rock candy (and occasionally fruit) was added to take away some of the dryness associated with rye whiskey. No doubt the extra sugar would have softened the mouthfeel too.
New York distiller and spirits historian Allen Katz, agrees, adding "It's difficult to pinpoint the sweet, citrusy cordial's exact origin, but by most accounts it was popularized in America's early saloons, where bartenders added rock candy, or rock candy syrup, to smooth out the spicy bite of a young rye."
Then during Prohibition, this bar room standard disappeared into the medicine cabinet.
Kara Newman, writing for 'Saveur' explains, "Apparently, around the turn of the 20th century, makers of Rock and Rye blurred the line between remedy and refreshment. Bottled versions made by Charles Jacquin et Cie (in production since 1884, the only pre-Prohibition survivor)...were often patented as 'alcoholic medicinal preparations.' This way, producers could skirt disapproval from the temperance movement while avoiding the higher taxes placed on liquor. After Prohibition, bartenders resumed making their own."
Now the genre is making a surprising comeback, and it's not just being spooned into cups of hot tea.
She notes, "Mister Katz's Rock and Rye, made with rock candy, sour cherries, and a young rye whiskey from New York Distilling Company, is set for release in 2013. Hochstadter's Slow and Low, already on the market, infuses a 98-proof, six-year-old rye with citrus peels, rock candy, honey, and horehound for a spicy-sweet cordial... it's almost worth getting the sniffles for."
Reports claim Jacquin's to be a wonderful winter drink, but one for the sweet tooth. Bartenders may well be inspired to take this American rendition of the 'Hot Toddy' to new heights of sophistication after tasting it.
Tasting note: Bright new copper appearance with some floating fruit particles evident (the bottle contains some citrus wedges, so this is no surprise). Nosing reveals sweet, lifted scents of boiled lemon peel and sugar over hints of spicy rye - essentially like home made lemon cordial with a splash of whiskey. A glycerous, sweet entry develops into a very sweet citrus mid palate countered by a subtle spirit warmth and some faint citrus rind towards the finish that goes some way to relieve the sugar, before the profile fades sweet and a little short. Quirky but fun, we think this has more appeal than any of the recent American honey liqueurs to hit the market. Add lemon to taste. 27% Alc./Vol.