Even if you’ve never tried it, we’re sure you’ve seen a few Country Crock commercials over the years. You know, the ones where all you see is a pair of hands discussing random things while spreading plant-based butter substitute on a piece of toast, muffin, pancake, or even French toast. The brand has been around since 1945 and besides imitation butter, they sell myriad other products including mashed potatoes, pasta, and other side dishes. And now, they sell whiskey.
Yes, you read that right: whiskey. Specifically, rye whiskey.
That’s because Country Crock just launched Cover Crop Rye Whiskey. But this isn’t just a gimmick to sell whiskey. That’s obvious since, even though it’s made by Country Crock, the name isn’t even listed on the bottle. So why?
It’s all in the name. The whiskey began with the brand’s Cover Crop Project.
Country Crock, that butter-like stuff you spread on your toast in the morning, is actually made from soybeans grown in the Kansas City area. In 2020, Country Crock created The Cover Crops Project in partnership with No-Till on the Plains to provide financial resources, training, and to help with the planting of cover crops. For those unaware, cover crops are planted to help to replenish the soil, stop erosion, and various other important pieces of the permaculture process. As part of the project, farmers in Kansas and Missouri who plant cover crops on soybean fields that hadn’t previously had cover crops get a $10 per acre reimbursement.
Cover crops are extremely vital to maintaining healthy soil and guaranteeing fresh fruits, vegetables, and grains. That’s why Country Crock collaborated with Kansas City’s J. Rieger & Co. to produce a one-time, limited-edition rye whiskey that’s not only well-balanced and delicious but will help get the word out about the importance of cover crops. This ultra-small batch is only made up of 500 bottles.
Now the real question is, is it any good? You can be as invested in an important ideal as you want and make a whiskey to get it noticed. But your whiskey also has to be good, right? Otherwise, what’s the point?
Keep reading to see if we liked it.
Price: $40 and only available at mashedandgrape.com
You’ve already heard about the use of cover crops to help in soil health, stop erosion, and improve the quality of the produce grown. Growing the same thing over and over is bad for the soil. This is why farmers rotate cover crops. This includes cereal rye. J. Rieger & Co. crafted a whiskey that’s blended with a whiskey featuring this cover crop.
The result is a sweet, spicy, surprisingly sippable spirit.
They aren’t kidding with references to butter. The first aroma noticeable on the nose is straight Werther’s Original candy. I’m talking grandma’s house, buttery caramel mixed with dried apricots, vanilla beans, candied orange peel, and a bit of oak. No rye spice is noticeable on the nose, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing as this whiskey is being touted as “buttery” — which isn’t normally how a rye whiskey would be labeled.
The peppery rye is very evident on the first sip, but it’s followed by a very buttery caramel flavor that reminds me of a fat-washed old-fashioned. It’s spicy, warming, and ends with a nice mix of cracked black pepper and buttery toffee candy. There’s a little more heat than I anticipated, but it’s not overwhelming.
The bottle is simple and classic and gets the point across. It’s adorned with an image of vast farmland with a farmhouse at the top center. It’s assumed that the field is filled with cover crops and the farm, whose family is benefiting from the crops lives in the house. It really tells a story about the generations of farmers who have made it their living to grow the fruits, vegetables, and grains we sometimes take for granted.
A great representation of exactly what you’re going to get when you crack open a bottle. And a solid convo starter.
The tagline that this is a “buttery” whiskey is definitely not incorrect. There is a great deal of butterscotch on the aroma and the palate. It also has some fire-y heat and spice from the addition of peppery rye. All in all, a decent bottle worth trying.
70/100 – While this bottle is being touted as a whiskey from Country Crock, it’s made by J. Rieger & Co., a brand that knows quite a bit about the art of distilling. While not the greatest rye whiskey we’ve ever had. It’s a nice mix of buttery sweet caramel and spicy rye — though it might have a little too much heat for some whiskey fans.
Still, it’s definitely worth trying for the price.