Maker: Thistle Finch, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, USA
Style: Wheated (!) Straight Rye Whiskey
Age: 2 y/o
Bottle date: November 13, 2019.
Proof: 90 (45% ABV)
Purchased for $47 (PLCB Monroeville-Northern Pike)
Appearance: Light copper.
Nose: Sawdust, cut grass.
Palate: Medium bodied and sweet. Allspice, hay.
Finish: Grass, dark chocolate, burn.
Parting words: I knew nothing about Thistle Finch before I saw this bottle on the shelf at the PLCB store I stopped at while coming home from a family vacation in Somerset Pennsylvania last summer. I’ve heard Pennsylvanians complain about the PLCB stores for years but I had never experienced one until then. Folks, it’s all true. They’re terrible. I went to that store to pick up some Dad’s Hat Rye and I had a list of Pennsylvanian wines I wanted to look for. They had none of those wines, and I was only able to find Dad’s Hat after wandering around the store for twenty minutes. It was in a special “made in Pennsylvania” section next to Pumpkin vodka, and several bottles of sickly sweet plonk. Bad selection, bad prices, poorly organized, it was awful. Like a LCBO store but much worse.
I picked up this bottle of Thistle Finch Rye from the bourbon section where it was lurking for some reason. I mostly picked it up because I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to find Dad’s Hat, but since they didn’t have any of the wine I was looking for I went ahead and bought Thistle Finch too. I’m glad I did. It has a lot of typical young rye flavors but has a roundedness that was nice, maybe due to the wheat in the recipe, highly unusual for American ryes.
It’s ok neat, but it really shines in cocktails, where it works well in drinks that might usually call for higher proof rye, on account of its aromatic nature. It did very well in a Manhattan, with ginger ale and orange bitters, and in a couple of cocktails I have named the Sterling Hayden (2 oz rye & 1/2 oz Aquavit), and a Skink (2 oz rye & 1/2 oz green Chartreuse). Both of the latter play up the rye’s herbaceousness.
I know next to nothing about the Thistle Finch folks, but this is a solid rye, that should only be getting better in later batches, if they let some rest, like they say they will. The distillery is located next to a brewery in an old tobacco warehouse in Lancaster. It’s one of these bar/distillery operations, and a pretty successful one by all appearances.
$47 isn’t cheap, but think of it as an investment in the future. Thistle Finch Small Batch Straight Rye Whiskey is recommended.
One thought on “Thistle Finch Small Batch, Batch 09”
I’m happy to see you reviewed one of the Thistle Finch whiskies. We visited them in Lancaster a few years ago while visiting Martha’s mother in PA. The location was very cool and, from what I could see, it looked like they were doing everything the right way in that they were distilling their own whiskey and aging in 53 gallon barrels. The whiskey was still very young at that time but tasted good for what it was, and the cocktails they served were very good. Happy to hear the product is aging well, and I look forward to trying it next time we’re in PA!