Updated: Jan 21, 2021
Redemption was my first MGP love. Five years ago, my local had a short shelf of the 7 and 8 yr. for $75 (which was steep at the time). I slowly drank through them before stashing a few. This is my penultimate bottle. I've loved them all, but found the 8 yrs to be a noticeable upgrade from the 7. Didn't care for the batches of 6 yr I tried. These early Redemptions aren't as refined as SAOS bottlings. They're loud and rich - dill-ing it up, MGP amped - delivering a wow factor. SAOS Ryes, on the other hand, always seemed to be anchored with a rich, underlying sweetness and nailed their proof management. With that management came added complexity. Pretty wild that this entire style of rye (MGP 95/5) emerged as a product of scarcity - a blending component given the limelight, the understudy taking center stage. Tough to image us going back now.
These were tasted side-by-side because that's how I like to drink.
Redemption Barrel Proof Rye 8 yr. - Batch #1 - 61.35%
Nose: Dill. Barrel char. Caramel. Oak. That's good oak - sweet spot. Green apple, but this herbal and barrel driven. Very expressive.
Flavor: Vanilla. Green apple. Dill. Oak. Wood spice. Hot on the back end.
Structure: Slower and bigger than the SAOS below. Only 3 waves, but they are full and clear.
Alcohol Integration: Pleasantly punchy. It's fiery.
Score: 8 (Highly Recommend) Bolder at every turn than the SAOS. But structure and complexity are sacrificed . Nose here is the clear winner though.
Smooth Ambler Old Scout Rye 9 yr. #3579 - 58.6%
Nose: Soft oak. Softer herbs - but more of them and more complex. Just softer in general. Vanilla. After some time, rich caramel starts to emerge. Not much fruit.
Flavor: Caramel. Dill. Oak. Apples. Pears. Chocolate. Vanilla. More oak. More fruit. More vanilla. Wait for it... more chocolate. This continues.
Structure: Long. Wave after wave. Just keeps rolling. I'm counting 10 sequences. These are my favorite structures. Slow, long fadeout.
Alcohol Integration: Could use some more clarity/expressiveness on the nose. Other than that, it's balanced, complex, clear - fantastic.
Score: 9 (Stash Two) You have to coax this nose, but once you sip, you stop caring.
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10 - Reevaluate The Budget
9 - Stash Two (If Able)
8 - Stash One (At The Right Price)
7 - Highly Recommend It To Strangers
6 - Solid - Above Average
5 - Acceptable For The Situation
4 - Not Vocally Complaining
3 - Anything Else To Drink?
2 - Nothing Nice To Say
1 - Drain Pour