If you’re unfamiliar with Pinhook as a label, the brand is applying the horse term “pinhooking”—referring to identifying and evaluating which horses could mature into racing champions—to the identification and evaluation of which whiskey casks could mature into honey barrels. While future releases of the standard Pinhook expressions will soon transfer over to Castle & Key-distilled stocks in Kentucky, the Pinhook Vertical Series follows the evolution of one lot of whiskey barrels, purchased from a single run at MGP Distillery a number of years back.
Each year, Pinhook co-owner and blender Sean Josephs blends fifty rye whiskey barrels into a limited edition small batch release, with plans to continue the process until the barrels hit nine years of age. To be clear, the Vertical Series isn’t a solera, nor is it a blend that has been re-racked to continue maturation. It’s a new small batch every year, crafted from different barrels, but married from the same single lot of distillate. Let us say this, the new 2021 batch of the Vertical Series rye whiskey is utterly divine.
Right off the bat you get a big mouthful of graham cracker, sweet oak, and a richness of weight that is felt on the palate more than tasted. The dill comes in soon after, but unlike some of the other young, high proof MGP rye whiskies on the market, it doesn’t thin out into a hot, herbaceous finish. Instead, the richness continues forward and the peppery character of the rye is bolstered by vanilla from the oak all the way to the finish.
At 51.5% ABV, the whiskey is bold enough for those who like it bold, but the choice of proof is anchored by the character of the whiskey; nothing about it tastes hot or out of balance. Everything pops in the right places. At $49.99 retail, and with a beautiful horse-inspired label, this bottle is a great fit for any cocktail fan or straight sipper.
-David Driscoll, Mission Sales Manager