Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by the party behind it. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the buy link in this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.
You know that feeling when a beautiful woman walks by and you can’t help but do a double take? Yeah – this bottle will put you under that spell. The American Woman Spirit Company is a newer whiskey brand based in Steamboat Springs, Colorado making their way into the industry. Embarking on the whiskey train in 2015 they released their line of whiskeys in 2020.
But easier said than done, what is fascinating about this brand is that the bottle came before the juice. Years of efforts, design and testing for quality and strength of the bottle all came into play with the help of California artist, Paul McTaggert. From their 2019 Indiegogo campaign, they beautifully summed up how in 2015 they embarked on a journey to combine their love for art, America, and quality spirits. They created an award winning straight bourbon and spent 3 years developing a unique bottle that envelops art, culture and premium bourbon [and rye]. They tasted bourbon from all over the country and studied the artistic and cultural values in sculpting a representative image of a proud and strong woman.
The people behind AWW started with John Lupori, Founder of American Women Spirits Company. His extraordinary background begins as a doctor who then turns owner of a craft whiskey brand in the small town of Steamboat Spring, where he was an oral surgeon for 20 years. Wanting to give back even more, he also worked on mission trips in Mexico to perform surgeries to correct children with facial deformities.
It was when he was traveling abroad that several local spirit bottles caught his eye, all uniquely designed and crafted, and so this was the initial spark in wanting to create and represent something similar – the American way.
With the creative support from Lupori’s daughters and son, and of course, bringing in McTaggart, was when the bottle came to life. McTaggert’s projects over his long career incorporate a blended aspect of function and esthetics. The design of the American Woman Whiskey bottle was no different. The bottle is a detailed, sculpted long haired woman, firmly standing proud and strong.
The bottle went through the ringer, having to pass a 92-point weakness test, a long and difficult task given the complex shape and contour, but it paid off when it passed and also was awarded a United States Design Patent in April, 2018.
With the bottle perfected, now what to fill it with it?
The process of creating a whiskey worthy enough to go into the American Woman bottle was the next step. Lupori reached out and worked closely with distiller Paul Dunning of Private Label Distillery. From a local web magazine, Lupori’s main goal was to make a straight bourbon – no additives – true, American bourbon. The distillate ages in four different barrels of varying size and char percentage, spending 2-3 years in each. Smaller 30 gallon, new oak barrels were used with charred levels 2, 3, 4, and 5. With the barrels aging in a temperature controlled warehouse and at an elevation of 6,000 feet, there is quite a bit of control when shaping this whiskey.
Lastly, Dunning created a blend from the four key barrels and finished the proofing with crisp Rocky Mountain water.
The whiskey I’m reviewing here, American Woman Special Release Straight Rye, is a 95% rye/5% malted barley mash bill, bottled at 102 proof and aged over three years. It is the only non-bourbon in the line up at the time of this review.
Tasting Notes: American Woman Special Release Straight Rye
Vital Stats: 102 proof; aged 3.5 years; mash bill: 95% Rye + 5% Malted Barley; around $60 for a 750ml bottle.
Appearance: Incredibly similar in color to the American Woman Straight Bourbon. Loving that sherry corn color, maybe just the slightest bit darker but probably not worth mentioning it. It’s also funny when observing for legs, only on half of the glass did thick legs frolic while on the other side of the glass, they hide.
Nose: Big yes to the classic rye characteristics of medicinal spice. Need to ease in and out from the glass opening with this one. Ginger candy on the forefront. Through the tickling burn, a peach cobbler takes over the senses with heavy notes of cinnamon and orange zest. Even more so than the bourbon, to round off the nose, there is a crunchy salty pretzel rod dipped in caramel and drizzled with dark chocolate.
Palate: A fancy dark cherry you just dug out at the bottom of a rye Manhattan, soaked in all its glory, burst with these flavors. More dark fruit like dates and figs stick around too. Lastly, a ginger forward chai with zested cinnamon on top is in the finish. The initial mouthfeel was spikey, dried out the tongue, and really warmed my chest on the way down. But sitting awhile longer with it, the spikey tingly sensation sticks around but it mellows quickly for you to capture and experience the fun spices in this straight rye.
Read the full article at Whiskey Review: American Woman Special Release Straight Rye