Whiskey Review: Still Austin Bottled In Bond Straight Rye Whiskey

The folks at Still Austin have been doing an interesting thing this year — they have released a series of four whiskies, all made to the strict “Bottled in Bond” standard, that try to represent the four seasons in Austin. The final bottle in their collection recently came out to celebrate springtime, and today we’re reviewing that bottle: Bottled in Bond Straight Rye Whiskey.



Locally owned and operated in Austin, Texas, the Still Austin Whiskey Co. opened its doors in 2017.

Despite being new-ish, Still actually has the historical distinction of being the first distillery in the city limits of Austin since prohibition. Keeping it local, their plan was to try and use locally grown “heirloom” grains to make a craft spirit that would be unique to Austin.

The company took a different approach from most distillers when they decided to offer only product that they themselves have distilled (not re-bottling someone else’s whiskey). To keep the business afloat while waiting for their first product to age, they would rely on infused “white lightning” unaged whiskey. Their plan worked, producing a number of delicious whiskey and gin concoctions before the business finally produced its first 100% locally grown, distilled, aged, bottled, and distributed bourbon in 2019.


The “Bottled In Bond” appellation is something that (to my knowledge) Still Austin hadn’t done before this series. It seems like they have been working their way up to this, starting with their standard bourbon, then a straight bourbon, then a double cask bourbon, and now we’re seeing their take on the most restrictive label they could possibly put on a bottle of American spirits.

You can read more about what defines each of those categories in our article on bourbon right here.

The twist they are putting on this bottled in bond release is that they are actually doing four different versions — three bourbons and a rye — designed to evoke the feelings and flavors of the four seasons in Austin, Texas. (Nevermind that there are more like twelve seasons… and ten of them are summer.)

Today we’re looking at the Spring 2024 release. For this rye whiskey, they follow the same pattern as their standard issue straight rye whiskey by using 100% Texas grown rye grains as the source for the spirit. All of the grain is locally sourced, and all of the production from grain to glass is done on-site at the Austin-based distillery.

From there, the mash is fermented and distilled on-site using Still Austin’s massive copper column still and the resulting whiskey is placed in charred oak barrels from ISC in Kentucky. As a “bottled in bond” spirit, all of the whiskey comes from a single distillation season and stays in those barrels for a minimum of four years before being ready for bottling.

And for an interesting twist, the whiskey is actually proofed in the barrel using a “slow water” process. Instead of aging a cask strength whiskey and then dumping in tap water at the end, some water is added each month to dilute the whiskey as it ages. This reduces the alcohol content to an enjoyable level without diminishing any of the flavors coming from the barrel.

Finally, when it’s ready, the whiskey is proofed down to a still-scorching-hot 50% ABV and bottled for sale.


Still Austin has gone through a few designs since they launched, but one thing they’ve been consistent on is a tradition of using art from local artists on the labels. That art trend continued with the straight bourbon released earlier this year, even though the bottle changed once more to a more traditional whiskey bottle shape and style.

For this release, the traditional whiskey bottle remains. The body is cylindrical with a slight flare from the base to the shoulder and then gently rounds at the shoulder to meet the medium length neck. There’s a slight bulge in the neck, which makes pouring easier, and the whole thing is capped off with a wood and cork stopper.

The distillery usually goes all out on their distillery reserve releases, but this one is actually a larger batch that is intended for local distribution and as such they seem to be following the normal pattern. The label is roughly shield shaped, square on top with a triangle on bottom.

The image they chose for the spring release is appropriately springlike, with a cute rabbit poking their head out of some long green grass. Just like their flagship spirit bottles, they tapped artist Marc Burckhardt to illustrate this bottle which helps it fit right in alongside the rest of the line.



All of the spirits in their bottled in bond line have looked fantastic so far, and this one is no exception. The whiskey has this dark amber color with a bit of reddish brown rust that makes it looks delicious and appealing.

Coming off that whiskey are some great aromas: rye bread, crisp apple, cherry, and brown sugar. What’s surprising is that the alcohol content isn’t scorching my nostrils as much as I’d expect from a 50% ABV spirit, which is much appreciated.

Taking a sip, this starts out as I had expected — but takes an interesting twist. I’m getting some sweet and familiar flavors of brown sugar and vanilla, which are quickly joined by some fruity banana and cherry. At first I didn’t get the crisp apple flavor that is usually a typical hallmark of a rye, but repeated sips start to reveal that as well.

Sometime in the middle of the flavor profile unfolding, I hit the black pepper spice which seemed to be a turning point. From there, the flavors were richer and jammier — dried figs, plums, and eventually finishing with a blackberry jam note. As you continue to taste the spirit, the flavors start to combine and unify a bit more and don’t have that same defined spectrum, but at least at first it’s an interesting trick.

On Ice

Normally with a rye whiskey, I think the ice is beneficial. It tones down the spicy characteristics and lets everything else come to the front. But interestingly, in this version, the added ice has the effect of practically eliminating the jammy and rich notes and leaving behind just the raw rye whiskey components.

What’s left in the glass is brown sugar, somewhat bitter black pepper, vanilla, and crisp apple. It’s a simple recipe and pretty much the gold standard for a rye, but I miss the richer notes that made this a more interesting and complex spirit when I sipped it neat.

Cocktail (Old Fashioned)

You could tell from a mile away that this was going to be good. It’s not great, but it’s good.

I think this is the first time where this really made sense for me as the embodiment of a “springtime” whiskey. Once the herbaceous notes from the bitters and the fruitier components of the whiskey start mingling it does taste like a stroll through the Walnut Creek Park in Austin — bluebonnets and all. It’s light and delicious, but still with that crisp apple flavor to give it some character and complexity.

What this is missing, in my opinion, is the jammy depth that I lost as soon as the ice went into the drink. Ratchet that up a couple notches and I think this would be a no-question-knockout. But that said, if you swap the simple syrup for some of the syrup your cocktail cherries have been chilling in, I think you’ll really enjoy it.

Fizz (Mule)

All a spirit needs to do to make a good Kentucky mule is to be interesting. Give me something — some texture, some flavor, something — that I don’t get with a vodka based version. (Extra points if it’s delicious.) And in this case, I think it passes the test.

Up front, the standard whiskey flavors do a good job adding some sweetness and balance to the ginger beer and the lime juice, with that brown sugar and vanilla doing a good job toning things down. As the flavor progresses, the real party trick appears — namely the black pepper spice that adds a delightful texture to the middle and finish of the flavor profile.

Again, I usually like something a little darker and richer to make a mule perfect. But this is light and crisp, just you might want on a spring evening in Austin (when it’s already 100 degrees in the shade for some ungodly reason).


Overall Rating

I love when local distilleries take chances and try new things. And I especially love watching as they mature from making simple unaged spirits to a proper “Bottled in Bond” release that requires some significant logistical hurdle jumping. It’s been a pleasure to watch as Still Austin grows and matures — and even through I’m no longer an Austin resident, I’ll look forward to checking in from time to time.

For this specific release, I feel like it did some things well and did some other things not quite as well as I would have liked. There’s some great flavor in here — especially taken neat, this is an interesting sip that is enjoyable and fun. But as you add ice or add it to cocktails, it turns into just another standard rye whiskey, with the standard rye whiskey flavors.

That’s not to say it’s bad — it’s still perfect and delicious — but there’s nothing unique that justifies the price tag beyond the limited release and the interesting circumstances.

Still Austin Whiskey Co. Bottled In Bond Straight Rye Whiskey
Production Location: Texas, United States
Classification: Straight Rye Whiskey
Special Type: Bottled In Bond
Aging: 4 Years
Proof: 50% ABV
Price: $79.99 / 750 ml
Overall Rating:
All reviews are evaluated within the context of their specific spirit classification as specified above. Click here to check out similar spirits we have reviewed.

Overall Rating: 3/5
A surprisingly jammy rye taken neat, but a standard rye any other way.


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