Bourbon Reviews, Distillery News and Information
Barrel Strength Reunion
Straight Rye Whiskey
Union Horse Distilling Co.
Proof 121 (varies by batch)
Please enjoy our Union Horse Barrel Strength Reunion Rye Review!
About Union Horse Distilling
Union Horse Distilling is a family owned “grain to glass” distillery in the Kansas City area (Lenexa, KS). They use midwestern grains, distill on a 500 gallon copper hybrid column-pot still, and produce their whiskey in small batches.
Two Union Horse Ryes In The Lineup
Union Horse has two ryes in their regular line up: Reunion Rye and Reunion Barrel Strength Rye. Both are made similarly, although their tastes are quite different. They are made from a mash bill of 100% rye, enter the barrel at 110 proof, and are aged at least 5 years in new Missouri oak. On paper, the only difference between these two ryes would be their proof, but I suspect there is more to it than that. These are small batch ryes. So, given their differing flavor profiles, barrel selection almost certainly has also played a role. In this review we will focus on the Union Horse Barrel Strength Reunion Rye.
Tasting Notes – Union Horse Barrel Strength Reunion Rye
Let’s taste it:
🛏 Rested for 15 minutes in a Glencairn
👉🏻Nose: Sweet cherry, dried apricot, hint of orange peel and grapefruit; light honey; darker caramel and light brown sugar; some toffee overtones; mild oak and cedar; moderate alcohol
👉🏻Taste: Mildly burnt caramel, honey sweetness; rye spices, fairly subtle dry oak with a little tart citrus in the background
👉🏻Finish: Slowly growing white pepper spice; mild lingering sweetness, as well as orange peel; very long finish and dry in the end, with dry oak and mild barrel char; moderate burn and deep warmth
Full & Rich Flavors
The flavors of Union Horse Barrel Strength Rye are full and rich, likely complements of its 121 proof. There is fruit in the nose, but also noticeable rich, dark caramel and light brown sugar, too. Rye spices, which were very subtle in the nose, become evident in the taste. However, they are well balanced with the mouth coating caramel and sweetness. Interestingly, the spice in the finish grows very slowly, but then does crescendo and last for a while. A dryness develops late in the finish, squelching any remaining sweet flavors.
Comparison of Union Horse Reunion & Barrel Strength Reunion Ryes
The two Union Horse ryes have similarities, but the Barrel Strength does not taste simply like a higher proof version of the standard release. While both have quite a bit of fruit in the nose, its expression is different in each. In the Barrel Strength Rye the fruit is balanced with the richer dark caramel and brown sugar flavors. Whereas in the 93 proof Reunion Rye, the fruits are really the dominant flavor throughout the nose. In the taste, both ryes show their “true colors” with their rye spices displayed front and center. However, in neither are they overbearing, and in fact, in the 93 proof they remain fairly light. The finishes are quite different as well. While both ryes develop white pepper spice and some dry oak, those flavors and the dryness are much more pronounced in the Barrel Strength rye. In the 93 proof, some sweetness and fruit flavors remain and linger to the end.
When I first tried these Union Horse ryes back in 2021, the 93 proof version was the flat out winner for me. However, currently I am really enjoying them both, and I think it would depend on my mood which I would choose. Having said that, the Barrel Strength Rye now claims the crown as my favorite. I am not sure if the rye has changed, or I have. Either way, I am really enjoying the complexity created by the combination of varied flavors.
Conclusion – Union Horse Barrel Strength Reunion Rye Review
I very much enjoy this rye. Although similar to its lower proof brethren, it is a bit atypical from the usual rye. Its flavors are quite complex, taking me on a ride from fruit and rich dark caramel to white pepper spice and dry oak. Have you tried it?
We hope you have enjoyed our Union Horse Reunion Barrel Strength Rye Review! Would you like to read about a couple of other Union Horse whiskeys? Then check out our Union Horse Reserve Bourbon Review and Union Horse Rivalist American Single Malt Whiskey Review!
Thank you to Nancy of Union Horse Distilling for graciously providing this sample for my review!
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