Peerless is something of a comeback story. The Kentucky distiller was founded in the 1880s and was one of the few whiskeys prescribed for “medicinal use” during Prohibition. After falling fallow as a result of Prohibition, the company was revived by its fourth-generation of family ownership and today makes its whiskeys entirely at its Louisville distillery.
Among its offerings is Peerless Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey, a non-chill filtered rye bottled at a cask-strength of 108.8 proof. Its nose is at once intensely woody and sweet. Hot, dusty wood meets vanilla and maple syrup, joined by cherry pits and apple slices in cinnamon. Once it hits the palate, the whiskey proves medium in heat and body, with a round-enough texture that pleasantly rolls over the tongue without sticking to it.
It’s grainy and bready at the start, with strong flavors of oatmeal cookie and shortbread. Afterward, we’re treated to maple syrup and vanilla at the center, where the first pops of oak spice emerge in what’s been a thus-far surprisingly soft experience for such a high-ABV rye whiskey.
That proof may have drinkers assuming that they’ll be crashing into a wall of spice at the end, but instead the back of the palate turns sweet, fruity, and just-right spicy with apples covered in brown sugar and cinnamon. Its finish grows rounder and sweeter still, culminating in a beautiful conclusion of caramel apples.
Peerless is not the oak and vanilla bomb you may have predicted judging by its proof, but it’s something much more interesting: a hearty rye packed with satisfying sweetness and full-bodied fruit.
— 54.40% ABV