This quarter we are pleased to feature a private barrel selection from former PlumpJack whiskey guru Joshua Thinnes’ brand Subtle Spirits. Joshua has been busy these last few years cultivating an independent bottling brand that focuses not just on the curation of spirits, but also on collaborating with artists to commission original artwork to adorn each label. When Joshua called us at the end of 2023 to say he had some pretty special older rye casks that were about to become available, we jumped at the opportunity to taste them. We tasted three different mash bills and ages and ultimately settled on an 11.5 year straight rye cask distilled at MGP. This reminds us of what the older generation ryes used to taste like. Think back to the Smooth Ambler Old Scout line of single barrel ryes, or some of the older Willett Family Estate (wax-dipped) ryes that were sourced from MGP. This clocks in at a devilish 66.6% abv! While it may have the markings of the beast, this whiskey drinks more angelic than you’d expect. The cask yielded only 132 bottles and is sold exclusively to American Whiskey Club members. We certainly hope you enjoy it as much as we do. 


Sam Crocker

Spirits Buyer

Subtle Spirits Private Barrel Vol. 2, Single Barrel #57 Straight Rye Whiskey

Location: San Francisco, CA

Much like the alchemists that predated modern chemistry, independent bottlers preceded the rise of large distilling operations. Using their relationships with both distilleries and consumers, they bottled sourced whiskey under their own label. Subtle Spirits continues this tradition today with their crafted blends and single-cask selections, all produced in infinitesimally small quantities.

Subtle Spirits has two different lines of products: the Original line which features both small batch blends and single casks selected and blended by founder Joshua Thinnes, and their Private Barrels which consumers or retailers can select. Both product lines feature commissioned original artwork to adorn each label. 

The private barrels are released in volumes. The number of barrels and types of mashbills in each volume varies. The cask we selected is the first to come out of Volume 2, which is comprised of a variety of different Rye casks.

The original artwork for Volume 2 features Louisville artist Jason Lois. It is composed on 3 feet by 4 feet canvas and contains a variety of mediums: acrylic paint, drip pen, and oil pastel. Before the final text was layered on the work, it was photographed to create the base image for the label. Jason created the text digitally first before painting it on the canvas so that Subtle would have the digital layer to create the high-build varnish embellishment on the final label that you can touch and feel. Subtle Spirits is co-founded by Joshua’s partner and wife Kristen Conley who specializes in graphic and package design. All of their design is done in-house.

Price: $124.99

ABV/proof: 66.6%/133.2


95% Rye/5% Malted Barley

Tasting Notes:

Big, bold and boisterous. Shows high-toned notes of dark dried fruit in the nose. That paves the way for darker flavors of savory oak, cooked berries, and a hint of mint (Branca Menta?). The palate shows baking spices, savory oak, and amaro-like notes. Chewy and rich, it drinks way below its actual proof.

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