Far North Spirits Private Barrel Roknar 100% Rye Cask Strength
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You know we love our wine here at Waterford, but we get excited about great whiskey, too—especially one as exceptional as this private barrel of Roknar 100% Rye from Far North Spirits. Specially selected by our spirits team, and bottled at cask strength.
In the world of wine, one of the most important things we talk about is "terroir"— the combination of soil and climate that gives wine its sense of place. But because most spirits producers buy their juice in barrels, or distill grain that's bought in bulk, terroir isn't typically a focus for whiskey. Luckily, there's been a quiet movement over the last decade to focus on growing what goes into the bottle. If you want to discover the magic of terroir-driven whiskey, there's no better place to start than Far North Spirits.
Located 25 miles from the Canadian border, in Hallock, Minnesota, Far North is on the family farm of farmer/distiller Mike Swanson. The Red River Valley Swanson farm has been continuously farmed by Swansons since 1917. It is a thousand acres of jet-black, abundantly rich soil that produces exceptional rye and heirloom corn. Built in 2013, the distillery sits on what was once a wheat field, and it is one of only a handful of estate distilleries nationwide to also grow their own grains.
This seed-to-glass approach is most significant in their rye. Most rye used in spirits is made in a grain elevator and sold in bulk. Not only do producers not know where it's coming from, but they don't even know what types of rye they are using. Swanson found an heirloom variety of winter rye - AC Hazlet - to be the most agreeable to this farm and the style of whiskey he wanted to make, and his whiskies are built around this single variety. Swanson's prowess with rye is so well-known that when Whistlepig (no slouches in the rye department) decided they wanted to start growing some of their own grain a few years ago, their first phone call was to Mike for tips.
Every once in a while, Far North releases a very small quantity of 100% AC Hazlet Rye to the market. In addition to being 100% estate-grown, this bottle is a community effort through and through, with 5% custom malted in nearby Fischer, MN, at Vertical Malt, and barrels made in Park Rapids, MN, by Black Swan Cooperage.
The Roknar 100% Rye is allocated, so much so that when Whiskey Advocate mentioned it in their spring issue they wrote "most of us will never see a bottle." But this is a Private Barrel - the only one released to a retailer in Wisconsin during this release cycle. So, as rare as the regular 100% Rye is, this is truly one of a kind, and won't last long.
Far North's tasting notes point to brown sugar on the nose, along with a bit of orange peel, and a palate of dried currants, almonds, and vanilla. Ours? It's one of the best ryes we've tasted in the past year, and you'll be happy to have it in your home bar.