Craft Distilleries | Finished | Review | Rye Whiskey

Every Coalition Rye Whiskey Reviewed [2021]

Last updated Mar 31, 2021

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by Matty Sims

Glencairn Whiskey Glass

Disclaimer: The whiskey reviewed was furnished for free courtesy of the spirit distiller. The distillery did not pay us for this review. This review is our honest and unbiased opinion based soley on how the spirit tasted.

Coalition Rye Whiskey is made from a 100% rye mashbill (10% malted rye) and aged in American white oak barrels for five years.  “A 100% Rye Whiskey is a true rarity in the industry,” said Steve Thompson, owner of Kentucky Artisan Distillery. “While most rye whiskies use malted barley or added corn, Coalition Whiskey is made completely from rye. It’s a more expensive way to go, but there was truly no other way to create that truly deep, rich and spicy flavor we knew would be the ideal match for our velvety Bordeaux wine barrel finishing.”

This rye whiskey is finished in the Bordeaux wine barrels (barriques) for up to nine months. The three barriques from three Bordeaux regions include Margaux, Pauillac, and Sauternes.

“It took the inspection of nearly 150 barrels just to find the perfect 25 we are using to finish our Rye Whiskey,” said Ludwig Vanneron, 20+ year veteran wine maker and global wine consultant. “You have to first start with the best, most voluptuous wines from the finest chateaus in all of France to get the best possible barrels for Coalition Whiskey. Following up to nine months of finishing, each barrel from the separate Bordeaux wine appellations enhances the whiskey in a different, intriguing way.”

Coalition’s fourth release is a straightforward barrel proof rye whiskey meant to highlight their unique 100% rye mashbill. Not only have they made great whiskey but they’ve also crafted a gorgeous “art Deco-inspired ridged glass bottle echoing the cut crystal decanters made famous during the 1920s.” It’s a bottle you’ll keep on your shelf even after you finish the whiskey.

The name for “coalition” whiskey is a nod to the unique coming together of the brand’s three founders — Leonid Yangarber (former CEO of Russian Standard Vodka USA), Steve Thompson (owner of Kentucky Artisan Distillery), and Ludwig Vanneron (world-renowned Bordeaux winemaker). Each founder brings their unique passion and skillset to make something truly remarkable. “Together, they envisioned a new frontier for the industry using their collective skills to reimagine and elevate whiskey.”

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Coalition Rye Whiskey Sauternes Barriques Finish

Coalition Rye Whiskey Sauternes Barriques Finish

Coalition Rye Whiskey Sauternes Barriques Finish
Sauternes Barriques FinishDetails
In the Bottle94.2 Proof
ABV47.1%
Mashbill100% Rye (+ 10% Malted Rye)
TypeSauternes Barriques Finish
Age5YO Rye Whiskey
Time in CaskUp to 9 Months
Suggested MSRP$89.99
DistilleryKentucky Artisan Distillery
6230 Old Lagrange Rd.
Crestwood, KY 40014
ProsComplex Aromas on the Nose
ConsMore Depth with the Complex Savory Flavors
RatingSilver 89.6 out of 100 Points
InventoryBuy It
Buy It OnlineBuy Coalition Rye Whiskey Sauternes Barriques Finish

Sauternes is a sweet French wine from the Sauternais region of Bordeaux. They are made from Sémillon, Sauvignon blanc, and Muscadelle grapes decayed by noble rot concentrating their flavors.

Nose – 92 out of 100 Points

The standout aromas are sweet toasted grains and a savory spiced fruit compote with a pinch of ginger and rosemary. I also pick up subtle dried mango and almonds.

Taste – 91 out of 100 Points

More toasted grains covered in honey. The mouthfeel reminds me of oily black coffee along with those flavors. I also pick up toasted pumpernickel bread sprinkled with toasted baking spice and just a hint of toasted coconut. The palate experience is blooming perfume in the best sense.

Finish – 88 out of 100 Points

Medium finish with toasted grains and sweet red peppercorn.

Complexity – 89 out of 100 Points

I’m always amazed at the savory flavors that seem to pop up in wine cask finishes. The Sauternes barrel finish did not disappoint in this regard. It layered flavors that don’t normally surface in American rye whiskeys which added solid complexity to this already unique mashbill.

Value – 88 out of 100 Points

These Bordeaux finished rye whiskeys are the adventurous whiskey lovers drink bait. They push the boundaries of rye whiskey with its unique mashbill and cask finish. If you love a drinking challenge, these $90 Coalition Rye Whiskeys are your huckleberry.

Verdict – Silver 89.6 out of 100 Points

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Coalition Rye Whiskey Margaux Barriques Finish

Coalition Rye Whiskey Margaux Barriques Finish

Coalition Rye Whiskey Margaux Barriques Finish
Margaux Barriques FinishDetails
In the Bottle90.8 Proof
ABV45.4%
Mashbill100% Rye (+ 10% Malted Rye)
TypeMargaux Barriques Finish
Age5YO Rye Whiskey
Time in CaskUp to 9 Months
Suggested MSRP$89.99
DistilleryKentucky Artisan Distillery
6230 Old Lagrange Rd.
Crestwood, KY 40014
ProsSweet and Umami Notes
ConsLooking for a Unifying Note
RatingSilver 88.4 out of 100 Points
InventoryBuy It
Buy It OnlineBuy Coalition Rye Whiskey Margaux Barriques Finish

Margaux is a small wine-growing village north of the city of Bordeaux in southwestern France. The wines produced are made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Carmenère, Petit Verdot and Malbec grapes.

Nose – 90 out of 100 Points

It’s a balancing act between sweet and umami notes. The sweet is restrained. I pick up molasses and toasted grain; while the savory notes are dried marjoram and coriander.

Taste – 89 out of 100 Points

The mouthfeel is creamy. Black pepper on the tip of the tongue. Tobacco is a prominent player on the palate. Also, subtle grapefruit notes round out it out. The toasted grain and marjoram also reinforce the savory element.

Finish – 87 out of 100 Points

Medium finish with those savory herbs playing a major role along with grapefruit and toasted grains.

Complexity – 88 out of 100 Points

The Margaux finish adds a solid complexity to this single grain rye whiskey. I loved the interplay between the bitter, citrusy grapefruit, the tobacco, and marjoram.

Value – 88 out of 100 Points

My comments on the Sauternes Barriques Finish apply here. I will say they’ve designed a truly premium, center-piece bottle. It makes me want to redesign my current office and whiskey space as a 1920s speakeasy. I also felt like I was in New York City at a party thrown by Jay Gatsby while drinking.

Verdict – Silver 88.4 out of 100 Points

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Coalition Rye Whiskey Pauillac Barriques Finish

Coalition Rye Whiskey Pauillac Barriques Finish
Pauillac Barriques FinishDetails
In the Bottle92.6 Proof
ABV46.3%
Mashbill100% Rye (+ 10% Malted Rye)
TypeSauternes Barriques Finish
Age5YO Rye Whiskey
Time in CaskUp to 9 Months
Suggested MSRP$89.99
DistilleryKentucky Artisan Distillery
6230 Old Lagrange Rd.
Crestwood, KY 40014
ProsComing Soon
ConsComing Soon
RatingComing Soon
InventoryComing Soon
Buy It OnlineBuy Coalition Rye Whiskey Pauillac Barriques Finish

Coalition Barrel Proof Rye Whiskey

Coalition Rye Whiskey

Coalition Barrel Proof Rye Whiskey
Coalition Barrel Proof Rye WhiskeyDetails
In the Bottle108.8 Proof
ABV54.4%
Mashbill100% Rye (+ 10% Malted Rye)
TypeBarrel Proof
Age5YO Rye Whiskey
Suggested MSRP$129.99
DistilleryKentucky Artisan Distillery
6230 Old Lagrange Rd.
Crestwood, KY 40014
ProsComing Soon
ConsComing Soon
RatingComing Soon
InventoryComing Soon
Buy It OnlineBuy Coalition Rye Whiskey Pauillac Barriques Finish

Full Review Coming Soon.

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Why trust The Bourbon Bard?

Written by Matty Sims

Matty Sims is a storyteller who loves bourbon. He has been drinking and studying whiskey for over 10 years. He has also been featured on sites like Bourbon Sippers, Explore Whiskey, and Inside Hook, partnered with dozens of distilleries, and reviewed hundreds of whiskeys.
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