Tobacco Barn Straight Rye Whiskey

DISTILLER –  Tobacco Barn Distillery, Hollywood, Maryland

ABV –  45% (90 proof)

AGE – 4 years, 8 months, 21 days

PRICE – $37 for 375 (only sold in half-bottles size)

AROMA: yeasty like a caramel-topped cinnamon bun

TASTE: sweet, rich, like getting one lick of a Werther’s Original caramel hard candy before the not-harsh alcohol tingle comes marching across the tongue and fills the mouth with unsweetened cocoa and a bit of nutmeg

FINISH: toffee and spicy pepper long finish with toasted oak and tannins at end of the parade; amazingly, those tannins are very much like tobacco

MASHBILL: 75% rye grown by local Mennonites, 25% corn grown on the Tobacco Barn farm

Review: Tobacco barn straight rye whiskey

Tobacco Barn’s rye whiskey is what we expect from the new class of Maryland ryes. It has an unexpected sweetness at the start, followed by a mouth-filling spiciness with both blending in a savory, yet sweet, long-goodbye.

Our tasters were Jack, a rye & Irish whiskey fan who’s traveled to Ireland several times, and Mike who grew up in Kentucky’s bourbon territory. They’ve traveled the Kentucky Bourbon Trail together.

The whiskey comes out of the bottle as a clear, dark amber. It reminded Jack of maple syrup. Both say it has a sweet aroma that is unusual for a strong rye. Mark said it smelled like caramel. I picked up a yeasty-ness.

Mike found Tobacco Barn’s rye whiskey a little dry and light in the mouth. In whiskey, dry means a fresh taste. For Mike, the spice really comes across first, then sweetness, and a spicy finish, with a little earthiness and lingering sweetness finish

“I had one finish and thought ‘that’s good!’, but how do I describe it?” Jack said, “What would caramel be if it was cooked longer or more intense?”

Mike wrote down toffee, “but it also has that pepper too”

Any given batch will have more than 70% rye grain, but it’s a pleasant spiciness. This rye whiskey is aged in new charred oak barrels. That four years in the barrel has removed the alcohol smack found in most younger Maryland ryes.

Jack thought it had a good finish, while Mike said, “it makes my tongue want to pucker a little bit. I’ll call it tangy.”

I liked it with water. Both Jack and Mike said water took away some of the initial taste.

“The water tends to wash it out where you don’t get the flavors as much,” said Mike.

Jack said adding water took away from the enjoyable start.

That’s the thing with Tobacco Barn rye, it has a lot of flavor going on. If you want those strong flavors to roll around in your mouth, you’re not going to add water or a cube. On the other hand, the alcohol level is a bit high, so a bit of water helps with that.

Jack, the rye fan, really enjoyed it. He described the taste was sweet and rich with a toffee finish. While Mike, the bourbon fan, said the whiskey was smooth but thin. He caught toffee and a pepper tanginess at the finish.

“The rye is good,” said Mike. This was serious praise for a rye whiskey. 

Jack said he’s “definitely not going to let someone take it away from me if I haven’t finished it yet.” 

Both said they’d buy it. However, Tobacco Barn is a little tough to find right now outside Southern Maryland where the distillery is located.

Bottomline: if you’re a rye whiskey fan, you’re probably going to really enjoy this southern Maryland gem in a little bottle. The good news is that Tobacco Barn is working to increase production. 

Mike‘s go-to whiskey is Bulleit Bourbon, while Blanton’s Bourbon is his favorite.

Jack‘s go-to whiskey is Jamison Irish Whiskey, while Sazerac Rye is his favorite.

About Tobacco Barn Distillery

Tobacco Barn Distillery in Maryland

Tobacco Barn Distillery is on a farm outside Hollywood, Maryland, not far from Naval Air Station Patuxent River. There really is a tobacco barn with a tiny tobacco plot on the farm. The new distillery building is modern version of the barn.

They grow the corn in the fields surrounding the distillery. Other grains come from local farmers. The whiskey is made there from start to finish, in the same county where Basil Hayden got his start before moving to Kentucky.

Tobacco Barn, founded in 2014, also makes bourbon and a very good rum, as well as a cinnamon whiskey. Other offerings are in the works. 

The distillery is owned by three retired military officers and they offer tastings on the weekends if someone is available. They are highly entertaining. It’s worth the $15 per person fee just for the stories. The tastings are a bonus. Sign up for a tasting online.

Tobacco Barn Straight Rye Whiskey SCORE

Rating – 4+ out of 5

ChesapeakeLiving Spirits Scoring

  1. Never again. I can’t untaste that.
  1. Better blended into a cocktail
  1. Not for me, but a nice whiskey
  1. Would buy
  1. Excellent! Where’s that bottle?