The Rittenhouse Rye BIB review
Company: Heaven Hill
Classification: Straight Rye Whiskey
Breakdown: 51% rye, 37% corn, 11% malted barley
Price: Can be found between £35.00 - £45.00
Continental Distilling Company of Philadelphia first launched the 2 year old Rittenhouse whiskey in 1934. Wait… 1934? How could they be launching a 2 year old whiskey when prohibition wasn’t repealed until 1933? Mmmm you do the maths, something doesn’t add up here, it’s almost like they were making whiskey during prohibition. Heaven Hill bought the brand in the early 1990’s and stuck with it during the darker years when limited consumers were reaching for this type of whiskey. Today, there are 2 expressions available, the Bottled in Bond, which we are reviewing below and a 40% ABV version (both are at least 4 years old).
In years past there have been some very old Rittenhouse releases, ranging from 21 years right up to a remarkable 25 year old offering. The story behind these senior ryes is one of sheer chance. Heaven Hill was aging a number of barrels of rye whiskey for a private customer who basically didn’t come and collect their order. When the whiskey was close to 21 years of age, Heaven Hill bought the barrels back and hey presto; the Rittenhouse Very Rare Collection was created. It was a short lived but extremely interesting collection of aged rye whiskey which ended in 2009 with a final edition of 3,000 25 year old bottles. Good luck hunting out any of those.
We’ve briefly touched on the subject of ‘Bottled in Bond’ in previous reviews and in our podcasts (By the way, we are beginning to miss those now… so watch this space) so for the bourbon newbies out there we shall discuss the term in greater detail.
Bottled in Bond, what on earth does that mean? Well, It is a government federal consumer protection law and received approval in 1897. It was largely lobbed by heavyweight whiskey producers in an attempt to guarantee authenticity. The rules, plain and simple, are as follows;
The whiskey must be…
The product of one distillation season, by the same distiller in the same distillery
Aged in a federally bonded warehouse for a minimum of 4 years
Bottled at a minimum of 50% ABV
The Distilled Spirits Plant Numbers (DSP) of both the production and bottling facilities must be on the label
For this review we drank it neat in a Glencairn glass.
What we got – Very fruity with a really pleasant nose, caramel and vanilla which can be a little odd for a rye. There is also a subtle aroma of leather/tobacco. Mav is calling out that he actually likes this nose and that it is really good, which is not like him at all (You read it here first!)
What they say we should get - Dried fruits and soft spices. Cocoa and butterscotch, alongside orange peel, cinnamon and caramel
What we got – Bags of fruit, mainly orange (Mr Pie) with spicy pepper from the front, once the first sip has been taken the harshness of the rye is no longer there. Leather/tobacco continues through onto the back-end.
What they say we should get – Thick, fruity palate with chocolate oranges, cassia bark, nutmeg and oak
What we got – Medium to long length with those gorgeous spice flavours lingering on the tongue. Touches of oak with very little burning sensation in the throat
What they say we should get – Tangy fruit and quite coppery. Marmalade and spice
Not quite a fruit bomb but it’s well on its way to be so. This is an awesome Rye Whiskey; you can’t say it plainer than that. A perfect every day neat pour and also has just enough heat in it to stand up for itself in cocktails. You can often find it on offer in the UK for sub £35.
This is actually only our 4th ever review of a rye whiskey, the previous ones being - Few, Knob Creek, & Sazerac. We have in the past though had a little help with our Rye content from honorary Gent, Aiden, who has provided us with reviews of Few Rye Cask Strength and Dad’s Hat Pennsylvania Rye.
Mr Pie has been banging the drum and waving the flags for Rye Whiskies in every BG Board Meeting and maybe this is finally the Rye Whiskey that could begin to turn the head of Mav? At the very beginning of our tasting for this review, Mr Pie could not hold back and declared his undying love for this whiskey immediately (thankfully this was not a poker game as cards were shown very early).
Rittenhouse Rye Bottled in Bond is a perfect introduction to Rye Whiskey for regular bourbon drinkers who want to dip their toes into the bathwater. It’s a great price point, readily available and Mav scores it above a 6. What better endorsement could you want than that?
7 out of 10 - Mav
8 out of 10 – Mr. Pie