Over the past couple of years the name Midwest Grain Products (MGP Ingredients) has become increasingly well known (some may say “infamous”) in the world of American whiskey. Though the company has been around in one fashion or another since the mid-1800s, but they more or less live behind the scenes, providing the spirits responsible for many non-distiller-producers’ bourbon and rye.
Today, MGP may be best known as the source of the whiskey used in Templeton Rye – an connection that has brought it quite a bit of secondhand notoriety. Due to some high profile labeling practices by the folks behind Templeton, MGP has gained something of an unfair reputation by association. This is quite unfortunate, as they were not party to any wrongdoing, simply supplying a product like they do for numerous other brands.
In fact, many of the brands that source from MGP are putting out some exceptional whiskies. In fact, those of you who have been following my blog for a while will know all about my affection for some of these awesome spirits. The truth is, MGP has been producing great bourbon and rye for years, but the brands that they’ve been selling to have been getting the vast majority of the credit (not that I’m insinuating they don’t deserve it – companies like High West and Angel’s Envy are doing great, unique things with MGP spirits).
However, the folks at MGP have finally decided that the time is right for them to take a more direct role in sharing their whiskey with the world.
Enter Metze’s Select, MGP’s first house-released bourbon. Named in honor of Master Distiller Greg Metze, Metze’s Select is an excellent demonstration of MGP’s distillation and blending expertise. They may have been behind the scenes for a long time, but they’re old pros at this stuff, and it really comes through in this bourbon.
This inaugural bottling showcases why MGP is a distillery that American whiskey fans should be paying attention to. This particular release is a blend of two of MGP’s mashbills, ranging from seven to nine years old. The component whiskies are all high-rye (as is MGP’s house style), ranging from 21 to 26%, and it works really well to create a nuanced, full-flavored finished product.
Nose: I get notes of buttered popcorn, burnt caramel, and plenty of vanilla. This filled out by milk chocolate, orange zest, and some toasted almonds. After it sits in the glass for a few minutes, the high rye content emerges with caraway seeds and a little dill. The alcohol comes through as a slight acetone note, but it’s not unpleasant, and serves to cut through some of the sweeter notes.
A drop of water brings out more vanilla and a hint of wood smoke, as well as more fudge and a more pronounced caraway aroma, like fresh rye bread.
Taste: This is a thick, rich, and sweet bourbon. It comes on strong, with bold, dark notes of fudgy chocolate and salty caramel. It reminds me of the crispy, caramelized bits at the edge of a pan of cookie bars (a childhood favorite treat for me). These are followed by notes of vanilla and coconut cream, along with some tingly herbal notes, like fresh mint. The finish is medium length, with the sweetness dropping away and a lightly astringent saltiness remaining, along with notes of toasted almonds and bittersweet chocolate.
A drop of water dials down the fudge and caramel and brings out more caraway and dill from the rye. The finish lengthens a bit, with the spicy rye notes lingering on the back of the palate. If I first tried it this way and was told it was a straight rye, I’d believe it!
This is intended to be the first of an ongoing series of yearly bourbon or rye releases from MGP, and I’m excited to see what they put out next!
Questions of the Day: Have you tried Metze’s Select? What’s your favorite MGP product?