Looking at the bottle you’d think that (rī)1 (otherwise known as Rye-one or R1 Whiskey) is something off the periodical table of elements (and if you ask a lot of whiskey drinkers they’d say it ought to be). (rī)1 is a distinctively different packaged rye whiskey that is sleek, hip, modern and simply stunning. It looks like a high end spirit and it carrys a higher end price tag at ~$50 a bottle, a huge price jump from Jim Beam’s regular rye whiskey which is ~$20.
(rī)1 (92 proof $50 per 750ml) has a nice deep, rich, amber color; the nose is very spicy forward with cinnamon and thai pepper-like notes on top of a sweet caramel base. There are some slight notes of wet cardboard on the nose, but from the get-go the nose screams “spice, spice, spice”.
The taste of (rī)1 is cinnamon and caramel with a slight bit of the wet cardboard that’s on the nose. There’s some nice heat on the palate but at 92 proof it’s a lot less hot than you’d expect. (rī)1 has a medium finish that has some nice sour apple notes to it. While it’s not a particularly long finish I really enjoy how it smoothly and evenly finishes out.
In many ways (rī)1 seems to be designed to be consumed in a mixed drink. I threw (rī)1 into an old fashioned and it tasted even better than it does straight.
I also decided to try (rī)1 in its signature drink:
Cin & Spice
2oz (rī)1 Whiskey
1oz fresh tangerine juice
1/2oz cinnamon (bark) syrup (I used Trader Tiki’s Cinnamon Syrup)
1/4oz fresh lemon juice
Shaken and served like a whiskey sour in an old fashioned glass with ice and garnished with a tangerine wheel (or a cinnamon stick).
The result is a fantastic riff on the whiskey sour that is an absolutely perfect after-dinner drink. It brings out the cinnamon notes in the (rī)1 and combines really well with the richness in both the tangerine and the whiskey. The sweet cinnamon syrup really buffers the heat from the whiskey, making this an excellent drink for someone who doesn’t normally drink rye.
One of the things I really like about (rī)1 is that it is positioned very well to attract people to drinking rye whiskey who may have never had it. It’s got the kind of packaging that gets people to ask “what’s that!?!” As a whiskey lover I have to give (rī)1 a lot of points for that. Combine that with the fact that it’s an excellent mixing rye and you’ve got a real winner.
The only problem with (rī)1 is the price. At ~$50 a bottle it makes for a very spendy rye drink. Yes (rī)1 is tastey, yes (rī)1 mixes well, but at twice the price of Jim Beam Rye and Rittenhouse Rye Bonded 100 (both excellent ryes), it’s a tough price tag to swallow. Were Jim Beam Global to cut the difference and land this at a $35 price tag, it would be an absolute no brainer.
(rī)1 Rye Whiskey Rating:
Recommended – Bold and spicy, this rye is an exceptional mixing rye, especially when you play with its cinnamon notes, but the price tag is a little high.