Veteran Rye Review: Penelope Straight Rye Whiskey – Tokaji Cask Finish



Mash bill

95% Rye and 5% Barley


6 Years


107 Proof


$80 (2022)

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Official Product Website

Penelope Tokaji Cask Finish

History – Everyone is beginning to learn about Penelope and what they are doing in the bourbon space. Not only are they becoming a recognized name and competitor with their line ups in the market but they are also hitting it with uniqueness. They are taking a more classical approach to their image by pushing labels, shapes and flavors that would be accepted in more wines rather than whiskeys. With this bottle specifically they are releasing a Tokaji cask finish. As stated on their site, “Tokaji Cask Finish is the latest installment in our Cooper Series which takes our straight whiskeys on a world tour, pairing Penelope with wine casks from the finest wine making regions. Rich and decadent, Tokaji Cask Finish captures the late harvest notes of the Tokaji wine from Hungary, once dubbed the “wine of kings” by Louis XIV.“ 

Value – It’s good, but not $80 good. This bottle is definitely priced for novelty and uniqueness. It’s unique in that you can really pull those white wine notes out while having that spicy rye experience. I understand it’s special, but priced a little high for what it is.

Appearance – These Penelope bottles are beautiful. Tall and slender like a wine bottle with the large P on the front really makes it stand out on the shelf. I enjoy the color coding of the different Penelope offerings. This bottle has a light blue label with the golden ‘Cooper Series’ banner at the bottom. The bottle is corked and comes filled with a light caramel colored rye whiskey. 

Nose – White Wine / Toasted Oak / Medium Alcohol Fumes / Sweet Grape / Raisin. This nose would get a higher rating if they were able to control the amount of alcohol fumes coming off of it. I recommend letting it breathe a bit before going in. After getting hit in the face by the fumes, you immediately smell white wine and sweet grapes. After smelling the wonderful sweetness, you’ll pull out that distinct rye spice note. There is also a strong toasted oak note and a very light raisin note. Overall, great notes on the nose.    

Palate – Spicy Rye Grain / Oak / Sweet Grape / Medium Heat / Creamy. The palate is immediately very strong on the oak and rye spice. It feels creamy in the mouth initially, but lacks body and goes down like water. It comes with a medium heat level and has a slight tongue numbing sensation. You’ll get a brief hit of the sweet grape before rolling into the finish.   

Finish – Rye / Sweet Grape / White Pepper / Dry / Moderate Heat. The finish is typical of a rye with its sharp rye bite followed by a dry mouth. You’ll still notice the sweet hints of grape and a distinct white pepper. The heat level maintains itself from the palate, but does not linger long in the finish. You’re left with a dry and leathery feel to the mouth.

Summary – Overall, this rye should be in a category of its own. It really pulls out the Tokaji wine cask finishing promised on its label. It’s interesting to drink a rye that does so well maintaining the sweetness of white wine while giving you the bite that rye lovers enjoy. I think Penelope did a great job with their cask finishing on this one. If you really enjoy white wine and rye, this is the perfect combination for you. It’s an excellent pour and I recommend this to anyone looking to try something unique.

“This pour stands out among other rye whiskeys on the market. Penelope has done a great job with their cask finishing, delivering a white wine experience from beginning until the end. I highly recommend it for any rye lover looking for something sweet and unique.

– John McGowan

Uniqueness – 1-10 – 9

Appearance- 1-10 – 9

Nose- 1-20 – 14

Palate- 1-20 – 13

Finish- 1-20 – 13

Value- 1-20 – 13


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Reviewed By:

John McGowan on 2/14/2023

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