Buzzard’s Roost – Cigar Rye

Image credit: Buzzard’s Roost (@buzzardsroostwhiskey)

When you see a cigar rye sitting on the shelf, the assumption is that the whiskey was blended in such a way as to bring out notes of dried tobacco leaves. This Buzzard’s Roost Cigar Rye takes that concept a step further by taking four year old rye sourced from MGP (95% rye and 5% malted barley) and finishing it in a custom barrel that was cold-smoked with aged tobacco leaves from Kentucky. It’s bottled at 52.5% ABV and I can’t wait to dive in!

Nose: Although this is a cigar rye, I’m not getting much in the way of tobacco or tobacco smoke on the nose, but I am getting more than a whiff of old leather. Sort of like the saddle shed where my family boards our horses. Once again, like all the Buzzard’s Roost whiskies I’ve reviewed, I’m getting peach as well as apricot, but the notes are darker, like fruit leather. Dark toffee and cocoa powder are coming into the mix now. These usually aren’t present until much later in the experience. A hint of the palate to come. Vanilla, toasted cinnamon, and maybe even a grating of nutmeg are in here as well. OK. I can’t bear to wait any longer. Time to dive in!

Palate: Right from the entry, this is tart, citrusy, and spicy. Like the Peated Barrel Rye, it takes a second or two to get going, but it really begins to build from there. Again, this isn’t like a wave crashing onshore. Instead, it’s a slow build right to the beginning of the finish. What starts as a zesty orange slowly transitions to a slightly bitter grapefruit. I’m wondering if that’s the tobacco influence from the re-barreling? The hard fruit candies from that English sweet shop I keep mentioning come in half way through the development. Definitely bon bons again as well as spicy ginger chews. At the very end of the development, warming black pepper bubbles up. Underlying all of this, especially after having taken a few sips, is a rich, dark chocolate fudge.

Finish: Astute readers may have noticed scant mention of tobacco. Well, it’s scant no longer, especially after it peeks from beneath the fading pepper spice. Mixed with dark fudge and slightly bitter citrus, the tobacco adds to one of the best rye finishes in the business. It’s the balance that makes this so enjoyable.

With water added

For those of you who want a stronger hit of tobacco, add a few drops to this one. It’s very prominent now. It’s pretty much all I got the first few times I stuck my nose in the glass. There’s a slight hint of campfire ash as well. It also noses a tiny bit like peated scotch, to be honest. Underneath that smoky blanket, the fruit leather remains. The development is significantly drier, but almost as spicy and tart. The tobacco comes forward from the finish, fades slightly as the spice takes over, and then re-emerges along with a bit of cocoa powder and citric tang.


If you want to feel the full force of the tobacco in this whiskey, add water and light up a cigar (preferably taking it out of the plastic first) and sit by a cozy fire pit. Regardless of how you drink it, this whiskey is a triumph in terms of balance.

Instagram: @paul.bovis

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