Review #63: Wayward Rye Whiskey

Along with our tasting of Thomas H Handy at Interval Long Now (we rated it 9/10 for a $20[!] pour), we got to sample the Wayward Rye. The rye was brought up from the Santa Cruz area from one of the bartenders (his hometown) and is the base of one of the fabulous cocktails at the bar called Ben’s Manual: a rye, amontillado sherry, sweet vermouth, and Drambuie cocktail).

The rye is produced by Venus Spirits (Santa Cruz, CA) which also produces a fantastic aquavit (our favorite and in our homebar arsenal). The resulting rye reminded us a lot of the Leopold Brother’s rye and is a great representation for American rye. I wish we had it before the Thomas H Handy, which was not only excellent but also 62.6%, which admittedly makes it a bit harder to write tasting notes for ryes at 46%.

Ben’s Manual cocktail using Wayward Rye
The “Bartenders” portion of the Interval at Long Now cocktail menu of inventions by each bartender – Ben’s Manual was created as a homage for a bartender (Ben) who liked his sherry.
Wayward Rye
Wayward Rye Whiskey from Santa Cruz

Tasting Notes

Nose: Butter, straw, grains and chocolate. Plums and other dark fruit. Sugar. Cotton candy. Molasses. Oak chips. Palate: Vanilla, chalk, clay, sweet rye, coconut, toffee chocolate bar, some youth, mild rye spice, and oak board.

Finish: Quick and pleasant oak finish
Summary: 6.5/10. Very good – a bit hard to distinguish from the other excellent American ryes out there. Smooth and not harsh.
Bought for: Gratis pour from our kind bartenders. Retails for $50/bottle

Quick overview of our scoring system. Our average review is 5.

Additional Information

  • Distillation: Double distilled in alembic still
  • ABV: 46%
  • Bottle #22, batch #23
  • Mash bill: 60% rye mash bill, with corn, barley, and wheat. Organic.

About Venus Spirits

  • Founded by Sean Venus, a former brewer turned whiskey convert. He also worked for several organic food companies.
  • Wayward Whiskey was released in 2015. They have a bourbon and a rye under the same brand.
  • Venus Spirits focuses on organic distillates: aquavit, gin, vodka, agave, and whiskey.

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