Rittenhouse Rye: 50% abv
Background: Rittenhouse is a rye whiskey distilled by Heaven Hill distillery. This rye whiskey is made in the traditional Pennsylvania style of rye whiskey. We are still in the process of understanding what that means, but now you know it is in that style. Rye whiskies are made from a mash of 51% rye grain, and the other 49% can be a mixture of other grain types. Although Rittenhouse doesn’t have a great amount of information regarding it, it is known to be quite an eccentric rye, and it is bottled at bond at 50% abv. Unfortunately, I don’t have enough time to dig deeper into the details, but I will review it for you!
Nose: This rye whiskey starts off with a heavy nose, with nice grainy overtones and some immediate ginger coming through. This very unique nose displays aromas of cocoa and dark chocolate brownies, some cedar and oak coming through. There is a hint of wood polish in the nose, with rich corn and rye aromas. Vanilla, oolong tea, and honey come at the top of the glass, with cloves, cinnamon and molasses in the backdrop. There is a slight dry apple smell in the top of the glass as well.
Arrival: The arrival is intense and bold. It is certainly not holding any punches. There is a spicy character up front, with hot cinnamon and allspice coming up strong. There is vanilla, barley, oak, and saltiness noticed right up front. Some milk chocolate is present here as well. There is some mint late in the arrival. There is a taste that very much resembles the smell of wood polish in the arrival as well, which is hard to articulate, but I just tried.
Body: Along with the mint carrying over from the arrival, there is a subtle chocolate character that goes along with it. The body is equally spicy and salty, with a subtle grape-like fruitiness. The body is substantially woody, with no shortage of rye character. The body is probably the spiciest event in the whisky.
Finish: The finish is intensely salty, with a hot character. There is some oak that comes through in the finish, with vanilla, coffee beans, and chocolate. It is hot and spicy all the way through, which helps add to the intensity of the rye character. There is a taste that resembles artificial sweetness, sort of like a jolly rancher (I know it’s obscure). It is also oddly malty in the end as well.
Nose: After adding quite a bit of water (to settle down this beast), the nose becomes more grain forward. There is more soft oak up front, with banana coming through as well. There is a bit of spice still, but it isn’t nearly as intense as it was before. There is a bigger presence of wheat now, which attributes to a softer, creamier nose. Also, an unfamiliar straw-like character is involved here.
Arrival: With vanilla, cream, and slightly soft grain character in the arrival, there is much less intensity up front. The arrival has an interesting fruity sweetness to it as well. This is much different than before. It almost reminds us of melons and berries.
Body: The body retains the sweetness, the fruitiness, and the soft grain flavors as well. The body is still spicy, but keeps the vanilla and creamy notes strong. There is subtle citrus and even some molasses that comes out more, now that the alcohol has died down more.
Finish: The finish is still the most intense, but has shortened up a bit. The artificial sweetness is much more dominant here, with some molasses and a lot of grain coming through. The balance is a little different, with a little more coffee coming through as well. There is a complex blend of new fruit notes that is more dominant here. There is even some black pepper becomes noticeable after water.
Final Comments: Rittenhouse is a pretty eventful whiskey. We hear that the 25 Year Old is quite a brute itself. This is not what I would call a casual sipper. Rye whiskies tend to be a little bit more overbearing than your bourbons, but this was definitely turned up to 11. The flavor is intense and relentless, and I would not recommend this to a novice. Rittenhouse is a whiskey I love to drink one night and hate to drink another. Without a shadow of a doubt, it is worth trying more than once. It is complex, and more than anything, a unique whiskey to try. If you can find it at a bar, try it there first.
Why you’d buy it: You are the adventurous type.
Why you wouldn’t: You are stuck with Jim Beam.