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Review #6: Liberty Pole Rye: Rye

Updated: Jun 19, 2020

Score: 8.2 / 10

Distillery: Mingo Creek

Type: Craft Rye

I work for an awesome company that has allowed me to run a Whiskey Club for the last year and a half. The goal is to host seminars to promote education and sample fine whiskies from around the world. The program was very successful and our Whiskey Club became a bona fide company club with a budget. At the end of 2019 I started raffling off bottles to the club and a lot of members traveled for the holidays and picked up bottles from across the USA. A friend/colleague/member of the club brought back this rye from PA and told me to raffle it. One lucky member won it for $5 and then we sampled it. Here is some background on Liberty Pole before the review (from their website):

In 1791, Washington County, Pennsylvania, was a heavily wooded wilderness at the headwaters of the Ohio River. Many Scotch-Irish veterans of the Revolutionary War had returned to the area and the rocky farms that they had established before the War. They struggled against the weather and disease, and being far from the East Coast, enjoyed few luxuries.Through the rugged ingenuity of the brave Colonists, one of the first American Industries was born. Whiskey.

For years, the grain that wasn't consumed was preserved in the form of distilled spirits. It was safer to drink than contaminated water, eased pain and suffering, and improved the spirits of friends and neighbors. It was easy to ship over the mountains in barrels on backs of mules or down the Ohio River to the Mississippi and up the coast to Boston.

It was then that the government of our new nation saw the opportunity, through the imposition of an excise tax on whiskey, to pay off the debts owed to the allies who had helped to win independence from tyranny. Yet, the farmers of Washington County were struggling mightily to keep their land and grow crops. Having no cash, they used their whiskey to barter for goods and supplies that they needed for daily life. Whiskey-making provided their best chance to survive. This is why they saw the tax as an imposition of an arrogant, out-of-touch, new government.

So they gathered together secretly in a meetinghouse near Mingo Creek and vowed not to pay the tax. They were the first men to oppose an act of the new government, and they vowed to stick together. They called themselves the Mingo Creek Society. As a symbol of their unity, they planted Liberty Poles throughout the county.

Years later, the stories of their defiance are preserved in museums, churches and cemeteries around the county. Now, heritage grain once again grows in the same soil they so dearly loved, travels down the paved paths upon which they drove the whiskey-laden mule trains, and arrives at the new Mingo Creek Meetinghouse where it is distilled and enjoyed by the next generation of the Mingo Creek Society.This time, the Liberty Pole is displayed on the label of each whiskey bottle and symbolizes the loving appreciation for a craft that once again is bringing livelihood to a proud community.

See episode 8 of our whiskey podcast Po It Up here, for a full review of other expressions offered by Liberty Pole as well as the craft whiskey industry.

Whiskey Review:

Nose: honey, highland rye? Smells like a scotch. Wheat, hay.

Palate: super sweet and creamy upfront, a lot juice and citrus oiliness morphs into moderate but sustained spice with tingling cinnamon. Smells like a scotch, starts like a bourbon, ends like a rye. Swishing this rye yields more sweetness and intensifies the spice, but also adds a bitter hops note (almost like an IPA).

Finish: cinnamon burst fades quickly and transitions back into citrus as the flavors dissipate.

Score 8.2


S+ Sensational - The Pinnacle (9.5+)

A - AXEceptional (astounding) (9-9.5)

B - bravo (step aBove average) (8-8.9)

C - competent (7-7.9)

D - disappointing (6-6.9)

F - flush it down the toilet (fail) (5.9 below)

Notes: Availability: Fairly Common. Easier to find in Pennsylvania

Bottom line? I was pleasantly surprised. Again this pour is pretty dynamic - smells like a scotch, starts like a bourbon and finishes with good rye spice. I am very wary of craft distilleries but in my experience craft rye tends to be better than craft bourbon (particularly with Colorado whiskies). I liked this pour and would recommend it to friends out in Pennsylvania.

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