Tag Archives: Rittenhouse

Rye Whiskey Tasting

Mac McGee’s is doing a tasting of rye whiskeys next Tuesday. This is something really interesting that you folks should check out. Even though rye has seen a bit of a resurgence lately it is still a very undervalued and less talked about area of whiskey. Here are the details.

Place: Mac McGee Irish Pub at 111 Sycamore St Decatur, GA 30030
Time: Tuesday, August 16 at 7:30 PM
Price: $25
Pour: Bulleit Rye, Rittenhouse 80 Proof, High West Double Rye, Jefferson’s 10 Year Old
RSVP: 404-377-8050

The evening’s selection is a very interesting array of rye whiskeys to give you a peek into what’s going on in rye at the moment. Bulleit shows off bulk bottling and branding, Rittenhouse, is old school production, High West shows off craft blending in the U.S., and the Jefferson’s is look at what our neighbors to the north can do with aged straight rye.

If you do attend the tasting and need help tracking down something you really like, shoot me an email. I’m always happy to help.

Drink wisely my friends,

Richard

Rittenhouse Bottled in Bond

Rittenhouse Bottled in Bond Straight Rye Whiskey
50% ABV
$15 to $20
Widely availble in the U.S.

What the Distillery Says:
Produced in the tradition of the classic Pennsylvania or Monongahela rye whiskies, Rittenhouse is a much acclaimed rye now enjoying a renaissance in the major metro markets of the country. Available in the standard 80° bottling or in a special Bottled In Bond expression, Rittenhouse is a tribute to the classic rye whiskies that were once the preeminent American whiskey style, kept alive through the many lean years by Heaven Hill and two other Kentucky distilleries.

What Richard Says:
Nose:Caramel, wood, and something meaty.
Palate:Very smooth in the mouth for a 100 proof whiskey. Much more luscious than the 80 proof expression. Spicy rye notes with a cinnamon under current stand out.
Finish:The finish is all spice but again smoother than I would’ve expected of this proof.
Comments: There are so few remaining “secret” drams out there of great whiskeys at great prices. I fear that by telling all of you about it this one will become less secret still. A great value dram that all rye and cocktail drinkers should have in their bar.
Rating:Must Buy/Best Buy

What Matt Says:
Nose: Oak, honeydew, and caramel dominate.
Palate: Slightly oily, though not as much as the 80 proof.  The oak is a lot more prevalent in this expression.  Bitter and resinous oak notes skip about with deeper toasted notes (some char too),  There is a dry, pungent tobacco note nestled in there.  Caramel, mint, anise (clove reveals itself with a little water).
Finish: Minty and numbing (even more so than the 80 proof expression).
Comments: I would like to amend my statement from our review on the standard Rittenhouse expression.  It’s not that the Bottled In Bond version is better, but that it’s more versatile.  Without water, you get a high test rye that tastes great.  If you water to 80-90 proof, you get all the complexity of flavor we found in the standard expression.  Even a small amount of water makes this puppy blossom like honeysuckle in Spring.  I really cannot recommend this more highly.  It’s dirt cheap and really great.  I’ve been told that it’s becoming hard to find in some markets because of the rye lust that hit the country a little while back.  Be patient though, after the hipsters and mixologists move on to tiki drinks or some other thing, you can stock up on this again.  It’s always on my shelf.  So if all else fails, have a dram with me.  My wife even likes it!
Rating:  Must Buy/Best Buy

Overall Rating:Must Buy/Best Buy

Rittenhouse Rye

Rittenhouse Famous Straight Rye Whisky
40% ABV/80 Proof
$15 to $20
Widely Available

What the Distillery Says:
Produced in the tradition of the classic Pennsylvania or Monongahela rye whiskies, Rittenhouse is a much acclaimed rye now enjoying a renaissance in the major metro markets of the country. Rittenhouse is a tribute to the classic rye whiskies that were once the preeminent American whiskey style, kept alive through the many lean years by Heaven Hill and two other Kentucky distilleries.

What Richard Says:
Nose: Spicy and oily with hints of tobacco hide under the surface.
Palate: Sweeter than expected at first and then the sweetness continues to dance around the edges of the palate. The middle palate is oak with mild spice.
Finish: Smooth. Most likely from the low alcohol content rather than the character of the whiskey. The aftertaste is chewy with kind of a bitterness that isn’t unpleasant. It leaves you rubbing your tongue on the side of your mouth.
Comments: This particular whiskey comes in two expressions, the standard reviewed here and the bottled in bond version. It is almost universally accepted that the BIB version is superior. I don’t disagree but don’t dismiss the standard bottling out right. It’s a solid rye that can go down straight but makes excellent cocktails.
Rating: Average

What Matt Says:
Nose: Cloves, orange zest and pipe tobacco (a rich, sweet blend).
Palate: That pipe tobacco is right there, along with some oak, anise and clove.
Finish: Smooth. The bitterness Richard alludes to reminds me of when pipe tobacco gets too moist and some of the juices back up into the stem (sharp and sweet).  However, what I get most is a minty taste and a menthol-like numbness that I associate with menthol or clove cigarettes.
Comments: Like Richard, I believe this one really shines at 100 proof.  The 80 proof version represented here is quite tasty and a good introduction into the world of rye whiskey, but the extra water really cuts out some of the complexity.  If you are looking for a gateway rye or a great mixer for old time cocktails, look no further.
Rating: Average

Overall Rating: Average

New U.S. Releases – August ’09 Part 2

Well, when I posted the latest information I had on new releases announced in August a couple of weeks ago I had no idea that they month was just getting started. Here’s the lowdown on the rest of the new releases announced during the month of August:

Rittenhouse Rye Single Barrel 25 Year Old

Timeframe: November/December

ABV:50%

Price:$190

This comes from the same batch as the previously released 21 Yr and 23 Yr. It’s supposed to be the best so far.

The Glenlivet Nadurra Triumph 1991

Timeframe: November

ABV: 48%

Price: $85

A new limited edition of The Glenlivet Nadurra made exclusively with Triumph barley. It should be interesting.

Jefferson’s Presidential Select (Batch #1), 1991 Vintage

Timeframe: Now

ABV: 47%

Price: $90

This is a wheated bourbon from one of the last production years of the old Stitzel-Weller distillery. It’s one of John Hansell’s top rated new products this year. If you can find it grab a bottle. Just don’t grab mine.

Bruichladdich Infinity 3

Timeframe: This fall

ABV: 50%

Price: ?

I haven’t had any of the Infinity releases so I can’t offer much commentary beyond saying that if it’s a Laddie it will definitely be interesting.

Old Forester 2009 Birthday Bourbon

Timeframe: now

ABV: 48.5%

Price: $39.99

It’s that time of year again for the new annual release from Old Forester.

Ardbeg Corryvreckan

Timeframe: September

ABV: 57.1%

Price: $85

This is the new release replacing the Airigh Nam Beist or “Beast” bottling. It is the same formulation, just one year older of last year’s Ardbeg Committee release of the same name.

Woodford Reserve Master’s Collection 2009

Timeframe: November

ABV: ?

Price: $89.99

This is the annual release from Woodford’s Master’s Collection. Past releases have run the gamut from spectacular (Four Grain) to not so spectacular. This year’s release is finished in casks that were made from wood allowed to dry and age naturally for several years before being toasted (not charred).

That’s it for the month of August. There are already a few more announcements for September from Buffalo Trace. I’ll get those posted soon.

– Richard

A Cache of Rye

This past weekend, I made my first attempt at organized proselytizing.  I hosted a small American Rye Whiskey tasting at my apartment.  Five students were present while I spoke the Word about malted rye.  Most were familiar with bourbon, Irish, and Scottish whisk(e)ys.  However, rye remained a mystery.  We talked about the history of rye and why it gets a bad rap.  After all, rye is the first truly American spirit and was once the base for most American whiskey cocktails.  Why is it so feared and reviled?

Rye’s dubious past began with Prohibition.  While bourbon was still being produced as “medicinal whiskey,” inferior ryes were being produced in bathtubs or imported from Canada.  This helped bourbon gain a strangle hold on the American whiskey scene.  Another reason rye gets a bad rap is also the reason bourbon gets a bad rap and that is the ubiquitous availability of crappy, harsh, fiery whiskeys.  Rye is thought of as something guys will drink on a dare or “to put hair on [their] chests.”

To combat previously held prejudices and fears, I hand picked six ryes that I thought sure to enthrall the harshest skeptic.  Our tasting menu contained (in order of tasting):  Michter’s US-1 Rye Whiskey, Old Overholt Straight Rye Whiskey, Sazerac 6yo Rye, Rittenhouse Bottled In Bond Rye, Russell’s Reserve 6yo Rye, and Old Potrero 19th Century Single Malt Straight Rye Whiskey.  I chose these six whiskeys based on heritage, current producer, and mash bill as well as more subjective criteria revolving around my concept of “good” whiskey (my chest is hairy enough thank you very much).  Eventually, Richard and I will post formal reviews of all of these but I’m just going to give you the highlights of the night.

The Sazerac was the standout favorite of these six.  Smooth and very drinkable when neat, Sazerac held up well to the addition of water and we concluded that it would hold its own in a cocktail (I know the truth of that from experience).  Sazerac also went well with the blue cheese on the cheese plate and the brownies served after the formal tasting.  Furthermore, a bottle of Sazerac 6 yo will only set you back about $25.  This is the one everyone went to for seconds.

The Old Potrero (the only 100% rye on the menu) gained accolades for uniqueness, but we determined that it was an occasional dram, not as accessible as the Sazerac.

Old Overholt surprised us all with its flavor and nose, but fell completely flat with the addition of water.  If you want something cheap to drink neat any day of the week, here’s your dram.  However, this will not hold up in a cocktail.

For a rich cocktail experience at a very low price, the Rittenhouse Bottled in Bond Rye is surely the way to go.  100 proof, 4 years old, tasty and under $20.  Who can ask for more?

We all liked the Michter’s, but it didn’t earn as much appreciation as the other drams.  I feel like the 10 yo Michter’s would have gone over better with this crowd.

Lastly, we were all a little disappointed with the Russell’s Reserve.  While this is a HUGE step up from the stock standard Wild Turkey Rye, it did not have the strength of character to tussle with the rest of the tasting menu.

There were a  few folks in the group who had bad rye experiences and a few who had never tried rye.  All were surprised by the complexity and approachability that these six Rye whiskeys offered. I think we may have some converts to the wider world of whiskey experience.

If you would like my notes from our tasting (which include a short history of rye and of each dram along with tasting notes), just drop me a line.

Drink well, drink responsibly.

-Matt