Rittenhouse Rye

Rittenhouse Rye
After two weeks of bourbon reviews let’s do a week of ryes. First up, Heaven Hill’s Rittenhouse Rye (this is the 100 proof version). Rittenhouse is beloved of many, both for drinking straight and for mixing, and is usually a very good value. As per the estimable Chuck Cowdery, this is a “barely legal” rye, i.e with the rye content of the mash bill at the legal minimum of 51%. It is apparently made in the Pennsylvania rye tradition but I have no idea what that is. Feel free to tell me.

Rittenhouse Rye, Bottled in Bond (50%; from a sample received in a swap)

Nose: Very mellow indeed: a bed of corn sweetness and above it the standard issue rye notes (pine, mint, dill, cold tea) float without getting too insistent. With more time there’s a bit of caramel and then some jammy fruit: plum? apricot? a bit of orange peel? Some dusty wood behind it all. Gets spicier as it sits (clove, cinnamon). With a few drops of water it gets mellow again, with a bit of citrus, a bit of pine, and a touch of cherry.

Palate: More or less as promised by the nose, but without the fruit, and much more integrated.There’s a breadiness to it too. Nice mouthfeel. On the second sip it’s sweeter and spicier. On the third sip it starts to get more sour and then the acid begins to dominate. Let’s see what water does. Oh, water calms the sharper notes down and emphasizes the spice (cinnamon and clove) with a bit more sweetness perhaps.

Finish: Medium. No new developments as such. As all the stuff from the palate washes out the oak is more there. Less oak and more menthol coolness with water.

Comments: Very pleasant, very drinkable, probably among the most approachable of the ryes I’ve had (though it does get spicier and more acidic as it sits). I liked the nose better neat and the palate a lot more with water.

Rating: 85 points (pulled up by water).

Thanks to Florin for the sample! (I labeled it myself at his home in December, which is why it’s not the usual immaculate Florin-style label.)

One thought on “Rittenhouse Rye

  1. Excellent review! I stuck my nose in the bottle and I could identify the notes as I was reading along. Cold tea – nice! It takes a tea connoisseur… I even got the plums – precisely in the jam, like the one my aunt was making! Sounds like I should try this with water. Now I feel bad that you missed out on the three ryes I opened in January, both of them Smooth Ambler/MGP, one at 49.5% the other two at barrel strength of 60+%.

    If anyone else asks, this is distilled at DSP KY-1, Heaven Hill/Bernheim, as opposed to DSP KY-354, Brown-Forman. Sipology Josh just reviewed these two Rittenhouse Ryes side-by-side a couple weeks ago, and he didn’t like KY-1. I had the DSP KY-354 version four years ago and disliked it intensely, to the point that I gave away the almost-full bottle. I enjoyed this one quite a bit, as you do – but not more than the Smooth Amblers. For nice background info and alternative tasting notes see also Red, White, and Bourbon and our friend The Krav.

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