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Neeley Sweet Thumped Rye Review

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Neeley Sweet Thumped Rye Review

Neeley Family Distillery
PawPaw’s Birthday Barrel
Sweet Thumped Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey
104 Proof

Please enjoy my Neeley Sweet Thumped Rye review!

Who Is This Neeley Family Distillery?

Well, I’ve posted and written about the Neeley Family Distillery before, but this time they’ve done something else really cool! So, as you may or may not know, Neeley Family isn’t just a cute name they thought up to sell some whiskey. The distillery is actually owned and operated by the Neeley Family, and the family itself has a long and very interesting distilling history that goes way, way back 11 generations to the mountains of Eastern Kentucky.

Who Is PawPaw?

This particular rye is to celebrate PawPaw, grandfather of current master distiller and owner Royce Neeley. PawPaw is also a distiller, and got his start “back in the day” in Eastern Kentucky. This rye was distilled and barreled on PawPaw’s 77th birthday and bottled and sold to celebrate his 79th birthday, this past May 16th, 2022. PawPaw’s Birthday barrel was sold in 750ml bottles; the regular release is also a single barrel and comes packaged in 375ml bottles at barrel strength.

Not An Ordinary Rye

However, this is no ordinary rye, not that any whiskey Royce makes at the Neeley Family Distillery can be considered ordinary. This rye is made from a sweet mash utilizing 65% rye, goes in the barrel at 105 proof and is aged 2 years in char 2 Kelvin Cooperage. But what makes it really unique is what takes place in the “thumper” during distillation. A thumper is something like a doubler, giving the distillate a little more finishing at the end of distillation just before it heads off to the barrel. However in this case, the last thumper contains a rye mash, imparting some final sweet rye flavors to the whiskey.

Tasting Notes for Neeley Sweet Thumped Rye

Let’s taste it:

🛏 Rested for 15 minutes in a Glencairn

👉🏻Nose: Sweet, with dried apricot, brown sugar syrup & caramel; a bit of graininess, rye spices and oak in the back, followed by fresh rye bread; noticeable alcohol
👉🏻Taste: Sweet with a syrupy mouthfeel, but there is also some dryness and oak, with char and rye spices, some sweet dried apricot followed by rye bread
👉🏻Finish: Rye bread lingers, char and white pepper grow into the long finish with a moderate burn

The nose of this Neely Family Distillery Sweet Thumped Rye is different from any other rye that I have had. There’s a syrupy sweetness and what I can best identify as sweet dried apricots. Once I am acclimated to those forward flavors, I notice some oak and rye spices in the background and way in the back is the subtle scent of fresh rye bread. The taste has similar flavors, although some dryness spice, oak and char become more evident. The flavors linger into the finish where more black pepper spice builds. With each sip, as I get acclimated to those stronger flavors, the fresh rye bread becomes more noticeable.


I am assuming that some of the flavors, particularly in the nose, are the result of the rye mash in the last thumper. It would certainly be interesting to compare this rye to a version that was identical in every way other than that last step. Maybe I’ll be able to do that some day, but for now I will just relax and enjoy this Neeley Sweet Thumped Rye!

I hope you have enjoyed my Neeley Sweet Thumped Rye review! Have you had any of Neeley Family Distillery’s whiskeys, moonshine or absinthe? If you would like to learn more about them, check out my Neeley Family Distillery Review . To read about a unique Neeley bourbon, go to my Neeley Family Distillery Bourbon – 8 Year Seasoned Barrel Review! You can also check out the Neeley Family Distillery Website to hear from the Neeley family themselves!

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