Thursday, January 26, 2012

Rittenhouse Rye Bottled-in-Bond Whiskey Review:

“The true pioneer of civilization is not the newspaper, not religion, 
not the railroad – but whiskey!” – Mark Twain

In the darkest hour for whiskey in America, the period from 1970 to 1990, rye whiskey fell very much off the radar. Few distillers continued producing the stuff, yet Heaven Hill Distillery, a producer which had been around since 1933, persisted in making rye and corn whiskey. And lately, with the almost overnight rise in the celebrity of rye whiskey, Heaven Hill fell into position as the dominant capitalizer on the huge demand. 

But even with Rittenhouse Rye Bottled-in-Bond's well matured inception date, having been named the best American whiskey of the year in 2010 by WHISKY magazine explains its newly gained reputation. And to give away the punch line, for the price point, it possibly is the best whiskey in its class, coming in at about $20 a bottle (only $12 a few years a go).

This Heaven Hill brand, like most American rye whiskies, it is produced in Kentucky. Since 2008 Heaven Hill, having been producing all of its rye at the Brown-Forman Distillery for the last few years, has increased its production by at least 40 percent. Meaning anyone wanting to get their hands on the hard-to-get-stuff, will now see much more of it this year and after – A good thing for all of us.

Rittenhouse Rye Bottled-in-Bond:
Price: Around $20.00 for a 750ml bottle.

Packaging/Labeling: I really enjoy the whole package. It isn't entirely modern - more something you would see in the 70s or 80s. Despite its dress it doesn't actually appear cheap. Some people don't like screw caps, but it actually works with the bottle. 

Alcoholic Content: 100 Proof, 50% ABV.

Color: Rich and dark amber.

Nose: A confident nose, with a deeper complex rye to stabilize it. It comes about with a rye/metallic forward nose. Creamy chocolate and cinnamon. Caramel, wood, and candied almonds. Mexican hot cocoa.

Tasting: Wow, wow, wow. This is fantastic. A light apple sweetness builds into a rich flavor of rye, chocolate, clove spices and ginger. A delightful winter warmer which develops into syrupy butter and Carmel finish.

Conclusion: Being from the same guys who produce Elijah Craig I am not surprised by the quality here. No matter, this is quite an impressive dram. Drink it neat, or with a very, very small drop of water. The high-proof also works well with any classic or pre-prohibition style cocktail; my spirit of choice when I order an Old Fashioned. Either way, if you see it on the shelf it is still probably a good idea to grab a bottle (or two).

A small side note I will add: I came a across some numbers on the Chuck Cowdery Blog about the “rye revival.” He states that, “Jim Beam Rye is far and away the leader at 42,365 cases. To give you a frame of reference, the big bourbon and Tennessee whiskey brands -- Jim, Jack and Evan -- each sell millions of cases a year. Wild Turkey 101 and Maker's Mark are each a bit shy of breaking the million-case threshold. A brand like Knob Creek or Woodford Reserve will sell more than 100,000 cases a year.” So even if these numbers are from 2010, this still gives us an idea of where we are in the “rye revival.” Yet, like the increase in production of Rittenhouse, the numbers will keep increasing (thank goodness!).


  1. I like my whiskey/whisky neat and I'm glad to see this one works that way.

    1. Yes it does. When it comes to rye I find that it is very hit or miss with me, but I could drink this stuff all day. Very satisfying. I just hope that with its growth in popularity, and hence its upped production, the quality does not decline too much.