Alias Straight Rye Whiskey Review
There was a time when the widespread involvement of MGP of Indiana in the American whiskey scene was considered by drinkers to be something of a mystery or secret; a trivial matter revelation that brands of rye whiskey such as Bulleit, Templeton, Redemption, Sagamore Spirit and many more were all drawing from the same stocks as they blended similar ryes to fill the shelves of your local package store. Over time, however, American whiskey drinkers have become more educated and the contributions of MGP – they call it the Ross & Squibb Distillery, but everyone always seems to say “MGP” – have arguably been better understood and appreciated. Drinkers better understand that just because it’s the same iconic “95-5” rye recipe, the resulting bottles can still vary widely depending on how companies choose to finish, cut and test their versions. Likewise, MGP house brands such as George Remus Bourbon and Rossville Union Rye have helped solidify the idea of massive distillery “house style,” showing us what MGP distillers think their spirits taste best.
And yet, it’s still easy to forget, even now, just how important MGP really is and how many disparate mash bills they produce. The 95% rye recipe is iconic and will always be associated with MGP and the many national brands that bought it – so many, in fact, that this rye was instrumental in changing the American perception of what does rye whiskey taste like. But that 95-5 mash bill isn’t the only rye produced at MGP – they also dabble in what we would call “Kentucky-style” rye, which is only 51% rye in the grain and is therefore much heavier in corn. For decades, this “barely legal” type of rye was the national standard, before the high-rye recipes of MGP and others pushed the style in a spicier, drier direction.
MGP’s own subsidiary, Luxco (the companies merged in 2021), producers of everything from Ezra Brooks and Blood Oath to Rebel Yell and Daviess County Bourbon, are now bringing this lesser-known MGP rye to the fore with the creation of a new brand called Alias Straight Rye Whisky. Hitting the shelves in May, and distinctly eye-catching in a blackened glass bottle and matching black label, it seems to visually promise this is something out of the ordinary. And so it is – this brand is a way for MGP to present a bill of rye mash that is quite different from what they are generally known to produce. It weighs 51% rye, 45% corn and 4% malted barley, bottled at 45% ABV (90 proof). There is no age statement, but the designation “straight” and the lack of a corresponding exact age in months tells us that the spirit is at least four years old.
So, with all that said, let’s get into the tasting and see how a Kentucky-style rye from MGP of Indiana really turns out.
On the nose, I immediately get a better idea of the corn component of the mash bill you’d get on just about any 95-5 MGP rye, which makes total sense in the world. There’s cornbread here, with pure rye grain/rye spice, a little caramel, a light mint, and an interesting trace of jalapeno pepper. The fruits are extracted slowly, with something like a baked pear.
On the palate, it also clearly resembles “Kentucky rye” more than modern high rye whiskey, with a good hint of rye flavor, coupled with a greater degree of sweetness on the front end. The texture is actually a little syrupy, making the initial pear, menthol, and rye flavors almost seem a little sweet. I get a little cinnamon sugar, before a transition to more holm oak notes. The overall impression is sweet at the front, but noticeably drier at the back, with a combination of herbaceous, peppery, minty and slightly fruity elements. A touch of ethanol heat completes the whole thing.
All in all, I can see why Luxco would want to go this route, although ultimately there isn’t much that specifically distinguishes this rye from other Kentucky-style ryes. It will probably be comfortable at home among other moderately priced younger ryes on the shelf, although oddly enough I don’t actually know the MSRP for this bottle – none of the published press releases seem to contain this information for a any reason. Either way, if you’re more of a fan of old-school Kentucky bourbon distillery rye whiskeys than the modern, spicier style, Alias Straight Rye might be worth your attention.
Distillery: Luxco (MGP of Indiana)
City: Lawrenceburg, IN
Style: Pure rye whiskey
ABV: 45% (90 proof)
Availablity: 750ml bottles
Jim Vorel is a staff writer at Paste and a resident beer and liquor geek. You can follow him on Twitter for more drink writing.