Retiring Caraway Rye Blog

Retiring Caraway Rye Blog
March 1, 2021 Tenley Reeder
Photo by Emily Gude Photography

Retiring Caraway Rye

Written by Mark A. Vierthaler, Head Distiller, Tenth Ward Distilling Company

I’m sitting here writing this blog, staring at a bottle of our Caraway Rye. More accurately, staring at a bottle of our Caraway Rye while sipping some neat. More MORE accurately, staring at a bottle of our Caraway Rye while sipping some neat while wondering how to write about us retiring it. 

It’s a bit like writing an obituary. Or, at least, writing a blog with a massive patina of nostalgia over it. How to talk about something – something as simple as a bottle of booze – that has been so impactful in one’s professional development?

Afterall, Caraway Rye was the first product I ever made for Tenth Ward when I became head distiller in 2018. This beautiful, complex little bit of distilling brilliance was a massive player in what enticed me to apply for the job. It’s warming, freshly-baked pumpernickel flavor wrapping me up like an old security blanket. 

Just as we all must retire our security blankets as we become adults, so must Caraway Rye retire. Not forever, of course. But – like the security blanket of yore – to go into storage. Into a closet. Tucked back away, never entirely forgotten, and pulled out at times when it’s needed most.

So, I suppose this is less of an obituary. This is more of a love letter. 

Photo by Emily Gude Photography

What Makes it Caraway Rye

One of the most brilliant things about distillation is how only a few simple ingredients can create something so complex. 

Recipe for Caraway Rye as follows: 

  • Malted Rye
  • Malted Barley
  • Dried Caraway Seed
  • Yeast
  • Water

That’s all it takes.

Five ingredients to craft a spirit that smells and tastes like a freshly baked loaf of bread. 

Five ingredients for a spirit that made a distiller colleague take a sip, sit back and say “I’m sitting in my grandmother’s kitchen right now…”

Five ingredients that caused world-famous master blender Nancy Fraley to fall in love with it and demand that Monica and I put some of it down in used wine barrels. 

Five ingredients that boast malt, chocolate, anise, and stone fruit. 

There’s even deeper meaning behind the Caraway Rye. It was the first spirit we ever distilled when we first opened our doors back in 2016. There were only 12 bottles in that very first batch. There were almost 200 in this semi-final one. 

It’s also one of our most divisive spirits we’ve ever made. And that made us love it even more. There’s no in between with the Caraway Rye. You love it with an abiding, burning passion. 

Or, you tell me at a farmer’s market that it’s the worst thing you’ve ever tasted. 

We fall on the abiding/burning side. Meant to be sipped, or mixed, it’s endlessly versatile. 

Pour a dram. Close your eyes and take a soft breath through your nose with your mouth slightly open. Smell chocolate-dipped plum. Take a small sip and really chew it. Swallow and breathe in deep. Take another sip. Soft caraway notes that are right on the front immediately give way to deep chocolate and malted rye grain. Breathe out deep again. The warming taste of freshly baked pumpernickel bread stays behind. 

It’s a meal in a glass all by itself.

How to Mix

Ward 10

(Our take on a Traditional Ward 8)

1.5 oz Caraway Rye
1 oz blood orange juice
0.25 oz lemon juice
1 oz hibiscus grenadine (sub for regular grenadine)
2 cherries

Pour all ingredients into a shaker, shake and double strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with 2 cherries.

Some More

1.5 oz Caraway Rye
2 dash chocolate bitters
2 dash orange bitters
0.25 oz chai vanilla syrup
Graham cracker and marshmallow garnish

 

Pour all of the ingredients into mixing glass, fill with ice, stir for 30 seconds, pour over large ice cube, garnish with with marshmallow graham crackers pick, and singe lightly.

Caraway Mule

1.5 oz Caraway Rye
0.5 orange oleo
0.25 lemon juice
Top with ginger beer
Dehydrated mandarin and rosemary sprig

Pour all of the ingredients into a Collins glass, fill with ice and top with ginger beer. Give it a gentle stir and garnish with a dehydrated mandarin and a small rosemary sprig.

So, Why Discontinue It?

It’s clear we love this spirit. So, why are we striking it from our year-round portfolio? 

Because whiskey waits for no man. Except, I mean… I guess it ONLY waits. That’s a bad analogy. Ignore that analogy. 

But it is all about whiskey. You see, our Caraway Rye mash bill is identical to our Maryland Rye mash bill. And as we’ve continued to grow – and our rye whiskey continues to bring home hardware at international competitions – the demand for our aged spirits has outstripped the demand for our unaged spirits. 

In order to keep you beautiful bastards buried in brown booze, we had to make the heart-wrenching decision to focus that energy and grain on getting barrels filled and not spend as much time on the Caraway Rye. 

Get Yer Mitts on It

So, it only seems fitting that the final distillation in our old stillhouse on Church Street would be the (semi) final run of Caraway Rye. This is where you come in – We have a super limited stock of Caraway Rye on hand. Follow the links below to get your hands on a bottle (or six) before it’s gone forever. 

(Or until we decide to surprise everyone with a limited run. But God only knows when that may happen.) 

And to Carrie – our Caraway Rye weirdo – shine on you crazy diamond.