So much whisky, so little time | Singapore | Tasting Notes

Hannisville Rye Whiskey, 1863

How the world turns, yesterday the collectors were falling over Ardbeg, now it’s Yamazaki. In fact Japanese single malt is pretty much sold out everywhere. Somewhere in the middle of all that Rye is making a real comeback, and why not, it makes a solid cocktail, and the right one in a tulip is a legit way to end the day.

As Ryes come this one is a true rarity, with a story as engaging as the charm of any scotsman. The year in the title is not a typo – This rye comes from a lot known as the Hannisville Cache, believed to have been purchased by John Welsh, US Ambassador to the UK in the late 1870s. The whiskey was believed to have rested in barrels till 1913, when they were transferred to glass carboys, where they remained in the family of the descendents of John Welsh, until they were sold and auctioned off.

A note from the orginal owner reads:

The Hannisville Rye you purchased has been in my family since 1913 if not longer. Family lore has it that the Hannisville Rye was distilled in 1863, was held in oak barrels for 50 years or until 1913 when it was put into the carboys now in your possession. The rye was purchase by my great-great grandfather, John Welsh of Philadelphia who had served as Ambassador to the Court of Saint James, 1877-1879. He purchased these rare spirits along with some other friends in Philadelphia; I have located another family that has some of the same Hannisville Rye. They too treat it as a family heirloom. The carboys you have were initially stored at the Merchants Cold Storage and Warehouse Co. of Providence, RI. The storage tags were stapled to the crates. The carboys were then moved to my great-father’s summer home, Shadow Farm in Wakefield, RI where they remained until 1985, when at my grandmother’s death they were moved to my parent’s home in Saunderstown, RI. In 2003 the carboys came into my possession at my mother’s passing. For the first time in almost 100 years the Hannisville Rye has passed from my family. I hope that you and your aficionados of rare fine spirits will enjoy them.

This and more inforamtion can be found at: http://www.finestandrarest.com/hannisville.html

But I would draw your attention to the glass carboys at the bottom of that page, because one found its way to Singapore, where it was opened and bottled. This thirsty work was undertaken by Emmanuel and team of the Auld Alliance – and I could say that matter of factly – but instead take a moment to consider what scrimmage of strange fate and mundane eventualities have led to the fortuitous journey of a large glass jar of whiskey to these tropical shores, and then into my glass, a full 152 years after it was distilled.


Picture and whiskey property of the Auld Alliance, where this rye is available by the glass.

Nose Nose: Lost none of its depth, but time has certainly rounded all the edges. What do I mean, well it’s still very spicy but gently so, neither hot nor harsh. It’s a round and soft, but heavily laden with a baked spiciness a la jaimaica cake plus a glaced cherry sweetness. Rosewater and violet jelly – the sensual titillating kind, not the toilet cleaner kind. Mandarins at the height of ripeness on a heavily lacquered counter top. Candied ginger and cedarwood. Not amazingly complex but wonderfully coherent, a miracle for a 152 (?) year old whiskey. Also, no glass!

Taste Palate: Surprise, much drier on the tongue, and not muscular as I was hoping for, and there’s something rum-like in it. But its definitely very very aromatic – coconut vanilla pod, toffee, powedered five spices, orange peel, and also quite woody-tannic. Quite expected I suppose. Evaporating off the tongue in silky waves, but just never taking the centre.

Finish  Finish: Long, really long, orange, wood and brown sugar.



I’ve had 30 year old whiskies that were weak and over glassed, 60 year olds that were over wooded and cloying, but here is a 152 year old rye, magnificent in its sheer defiance of time, and still keeping its wits about it. What an utter miracle… plus points!


3 comments on “Hannisville Rye Whiskey, 1863

  1. Stephen Gould
    May 13, 2016

    I find this article interesting, especially since I was one of the partners on this cache and ALL THE CARBOYS are still in my possession. So, how then, could one have found it’s way to Singapore?


    Stephen Gould – Golden Moon Distillery

    • Whiskyrific
      May 14, 2016

      Many thanks for the additional information around this Stephen, it was a pleasure talking to you.

  2. Pingback: 9 Oldest Bottles of Whisky in The World | Oldest.org

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This entry was posted on July 23, 2015 by in Hannisville Rye, Rye and tagged , .
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