Your eyes are not deceiving you. This is Lock Stock & Barrel. This is an 18 year-old, 100% rye whiskey bottled at 109 proof. This is real.
As a self-proclaimed connoisseur of rye whiskey and high-rye bourbon, I saw this bottle on a shelf and I immediately knew it was coming home with me. I am always striving to continue developing my palate for rye whiskey and I knew this bottle would give me a real challenge. Honestly, have you ever seen an 18 year-old rye?!
This is the third release from RJ Cooper & Son, following two slightly younger but very highly-praised expressions (LS&B 13-year and 16-year). Established in 2006 by the late third-generation master distiller Robert Cooper, RJ Cooper & Son is based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and is responsible for some very well-known “unique, integrity-driven spirits” such as the Hochstadter’s Rye line and St. Germain, just to name a few.
The juice in this bottle is made from a “robust cut” of 100% rye that is double-distilled at the Alberta Distillery in Calgary. It is hand-selected by master distillers and then aged for 18 years in new charred American oak barrels in a cold climate. It is unfiltered and bottled at 109 proof (54.5% abv). The MSRP for this rare rye whiskey is $229.99.
Appearance – deep copper. This rye also left long, thick legs in the glass.
Nose – the nose on this rye is phenomenal. There is the obvious rye spice and some light char, but the nose is dominated by rich baking spice, vanilla, banana, and walnuts – think fresh baked banana bread. With some time I also found rich dark fruit (prunes) developing, along with some maple syrup. Water brought out some extra sweetness, emphasizing the rich dark fruit notes.
Palate – initially rye spice and some light pickling spice warm the palate and then give way to a complex bouquet of more of those fresh banana bread flavors, cinnamon, fresh ginger, some toasted grain, and some light notes of smoky tobacco leaf. Surprisingly, what you will not find with this rye is ANY alcohol burn, which is amazing at 109 proof.
Finish – this rye left a buttery mouthfeel with a long, warm finish. The rye spice continues on the finish, leaving a nice peppery spice, along with a soft cherry syrup sweetness, those same baking spices, some char, and faint notes of stone fruit that linger for some time.
Overall – Lock Stock & Barrel 18 is just exceptional. The distiller describes this bottle as “a deeply intense, yet harmonious straight rye, with rich and unified tasting notes” and if it is not clear from my review, I believe that is a fitting description for this whiskey. After 18 years in oak, this rye whiskey developed into an extremely smooth, complex, and flavorful pour. I tasted this bottle three times prior to writing this review and I found more and more flavors each time I tried it. In fact, the most difficult part of this review was trying to limit my tasting notes to a reasonable length! The flavors here are intense but not harsh or overpowering, and everything blends together in a way that is nothing short of spectacular.
Lock Stock & Barrel is not a cheap addition to any home bar, especially on the secondary market, but it is well worth the price. I have a feeling this whiskey will open up even more in time, so don’t be surprised if you see another review soon!