Depending on the temperature of any given whiskey market, popular demand tends to drive new offerings to the shelf, and for rye fans what a grand time it is right now. But during the time frame between the recent rye resurgence and Prohibition, rye was scarce. While most rye brands, very popular before Prohibition, did not survive those dark days, Rittenhouse Rye survived by strong relationships between the owners of Heaven Hill and the wholesalers at the time. While the general populace’s palate went elsewhere, which generally determines the rise/fall of a given style, Rittenhouse remained. On to some particulars…
Where bourbon’s corn/wheat components run sweet, a rye flavor grain adds depth with a sharper, spicier flavor profile. A “straight” rye whiskey must contain a minimum 51% of rye grain and thus the flavor balance is switched. Mash bill details are not entirely known, but it becomes clear that some percentage of corn is included that adds a buttery sweetness to this one (kind of a Bourbon lover’s rye). It is aged at least 4 years with some 6 year old stock blended in.
Rittenhouse’s “Bottled in Bond” designation is an old Prohibition classification originally intended as a mark of regulatory quality and authenticity issued by the government. It means the stock is a product of one distillery, one distiller, from one distillation season, aged at least 4 years and bottled at 50% ABV. Not many opportunities are afforded to sample this classic, since as recently as 2009, Rittenhouse was distilled only 12 days a year. I hope they increased this.
Nose- Yes, the rye is there, but right away the sweetness comes through – buttery corn, vanilla and toffee. Cherry cough syrup. Then the dusty rye with some oak. Dried apricots. Little hot.
Taste- Some heat with a thick sweetness, vanilla. Nyquil again with some spicy, oaky char.
Finish- Medium length with charred oak. Slightly sweet but overall a dry affair.
Comments- Rye traditionalists may balk, but you can’t complain at this price. A simple sipper that has a decent balance between sweet and spicy. Enjoyable enough, folks.
SWC Rating – 80/100
Average Retail – $20.00
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