Dormant for nearly a century but is now back, as limited edition releases.
In the pre-Prohibition years, Rieger’s Monogram Whiskey was the flagship label of J. Rieger & Co. This label sat dormant for nearly a century but is now back, as limited-edition releases of specialty whiskeys. We are using the Rieger’s Monogram label as a way to release extremely unique whiskeys that are a reflection of the creativity of our team and our partners as well as our passion for innovation. We hope to release at least one version of Rieger’s Monogram on an annual basis, with the style of whiskey, finishing techniques, type of barrels, proof, age, and other factors ever changing. We did not enter into this project with any future releases of Rieger’s Monogram pre-determined but rather we are seeing where our own creativity, opportunities, partnerships, friendships and dumb luck take us. We needed an outlet for ideas and opportunities as they come to us so we are taking this project one year at a time.
In March 2017, we were proud to be able to bring you the first release of Rieger’s Monogram Whiskey to be bottled since 1919. Our first release, a blended whiskey finished in century old Oloroso Sherry botas, would not have been possible without our many friends and partners including Mr. Steve Olson and the Williams & Humbert bodega of Jerez, Spain.
RIEGER’S MONOGRAM 2017 RELEASE
FORMAT AVAILABLE: 750ml
RELEASE DATE: March 2017
THE BLEND: 9-year old Corn Whiskey, blended with 11-year old Rye Whiskey. Finished for 18 months.
THE BOTAS: Williams & Humbert Solera Especial 15-year Oloroso Dulce. Century old, 500-liter American oak.
AVAILABILITY: Limited. 1,000 bottles released in 2017.
RIEGER’S MONOGRAM WHISKEY 2017 RELEASE
Tasters and whiskey lovers agree that Rieger’s Kansas City Whiskey is a blend that exceeds the sum of its parts. The argument could be made that Rieger’s Kansas City Whiskey stands apart because of the addition of Sherry. From the beginning, it was the missing link in blending our Whiskey – an historic ingredient that can be traced back to pre-Prohibition days – and one that lends a profound flavor profile. Williams & Humbert, longtime friends and celebrated producers in the Jerez region of Spain, helped us source the Oloroso which we blend in as the last step of our KC Whiskey production. From those first trials, we started to ask: if we’re adding Oloroso to our Whiskey, why not put the Whiskey in the Sherry? For that we needed something very rare: Sherry Botas. To be clear, these are not just cask-conditioned barrels, they are part of the historic solera in Spain, perhaps the most precious commodity of Jerez. Williams & Humbert agreed to ship a piece of their legacy to the U.S. to help shape history of our own; they gave us four century-old American oak Sherry Botas from the same solera that produces the remarkable 15-year Oloroso used in our classic Rieger’s Whiskey line.
It was a special day when we unloaded four 500-liter botas from the solera of Williams & Humbert at the distillery in Kansas City. We had selected 8-year old Corn Whiskey to place in Botas #1, #2, and #3, and just for fun, we put an amazing 10-year old Rye Whiskey into Bota #4. The Whiskey entered the Botas at full cask strength on June 29, 2015. Two months later, on August 19, we barrel-tasted for the first-time. It was mind-blowing. We had created a theoretical blend so we could measure the potential of aging this Whiskey. This blend was too good to be true. Our Botas each showed distinct character, and we started keeping a detailed tasting log as we watched the Whiskey mellow and mature.
After many years of working in Jerez, Steve Olson‘s experience guided the next step: we had to go beyond traditional blending and create a system of fractional blending. We decided unanimously to turn our little experiment into a working solera. We began the process of rocios (or at least a version of a sacando), removing the Whiskey from each Bota to place it into the solera, and then replacing our aged Whiskey and Rye.
Perhaps the best part about our first Monogram Collection Whiskey release is that it is truly a team project: all of the players at J. Rieger & Co. are involved, as are our friends at Williams & Humbert. The J. Rieger & Co. team tasted the first blend in August of 2015, the Williams & Humbert team tasted following the second blend in September 2016. It was then that both parties agreed that this project was truly special. The result: the revival of the century-old J. Rieger and Co. Monogram label!
1st SACA (November 2015)
2nd SACA (September 2016)
It is a perfect marriage of the rich, deep, dark fruit and nuttiness of the Oloroso Sherry, with the spices and confectionary tones of the American oak Botas, but it is Whiskey to be sure. All elements come together in perfect harmony.
Lovely, dark fruit and caramel notes, with an almost demerara and toffee tone lead, but the Whiskey itself is dry as a bone. Creamy, full, soft and rich. It is unctuous, dark and mysterious, and yet absolutely balanced and gorgeous. Dates, peaches, plums, figs, and chocolate-covered cherries are balanced with a touch of vanilla and high note spices of cinnamon and clove, and surrounded by the velvet of sweet caramel, maple syrup, coffee, toffee, cacao, honey, finishing very nutty, with the flavors of cashews and even pecans.
PALATE & FINISH
It is confectionary in the mid-palate, without being sweet, and has a long, almond marzipan finish. This is a true Oloroso-cask finished Whiskey. It is all about the Whiskey, perfectly balanced with the elements of the Oloroso, and the nuances of the oak Bota, with the depth of flavor that only these special old barrels can deliver.
(from suelo, or floor), refers to the whole system of fractional blending. Also the name of the “bottom barrel”, from which the Sherry is drawn from to be bottled. In this case, it specifically refers to the working blend that is the result of each saca and is resting in tank, also known as La Madre, or “the Mother.”
- BOTAS refer to the four Oloroso barrels
- SACA (from sacar, to remove), the removal of Sherry (or Whiskey) from the barrels
- ROCIOS, the process of adding the younger to the older Whiskey