Rittenhouse Bottled In Bond Rye Whiskey Review
Rittenhouse Bottled in Bond
100 proof aged rye whiskey
Typical Price: About $15 - Buy it at Internet Wines & Spirits
Initial Thoughts: Rye was one of the first whiskey types to be distilled in the United States, and it was originally distilled mainly in the Northeast. After a few glasses of Rittenhouse we thought it was hysterical to think about Boston Puritans getting plastered on the stuff, and maybe going out and dumping a bunch of tea into the harbor or something.
In fact, rye whiskey does have a bit of a tumultuous history...it was the inspiration for the Whiskey Rebellion of 1794. The stuff remained popular all the way up until Prohibition, which is when Americans started mixing cocktails to take some of the bite out of their drink. By the time Prohibition ended, most people had sort of lost their taste for the stronger flavor of Rye and gotten used to booze with lighter or sweeter flavors, hence it becoming a bit of an alternative whiskey.
And it's a sad thing, but we keep hearing more about rye and we think it could be on the rebound. Based on what we tasted in Rittenhouse, it definitely should be. We've been Bourbon types for as long as we can remember and when we opened our bottle of Rittenhouse and gave it a sniff, the first thing we thought of was how reminiscent it was. The nose was rich and had a scent of brown sugar, and while we remember smelling rye in our earlier years and wincing, this had none of the overpowering alcoholic tang we used to associate with rye.
In the glass, we liked it even better (of course). The flavor was complex, with overtones of black strap molasses and the sweetness of caramel, and we even thought we could taste, for lack of a better term, a taste of rum and burnt sugar on the back end. All in all, very nice. Find our cocktail recipe suggestions and finishing thoughts after the jump.
Cocktail Recipes: As we said above, rye used to be a very popular drink, and many older cocktail recipe books call for rye where you would see newer books call for other types of whiskey today. We liked Rittenhouse a lot simply on the rocks or with a splash of water, and we thought it was fantastic mixed with a strong ginger beer and a twist of lime. One interesting recipe we found at Cocktail.com was the Rock and Rye...we did some reading and found that back in the 1800s it was used as cough syrup. Here's to getting a severe, chest-rattling cough so we'll have an excuse to try it! (Note: Rock and Rye is also the name of a pre-bottled liqueur containing whiskey and powdered rock candy...we haven't tried it.)
Rock and Rye
2oz rye whiskey
1 piece rock candy
Juice of one lemon
In a serving glass, combine the ingredients until the candy dissolves.
Finishing Thoughts: One of the distinctive characteristics of the Rittenhouse is that it was bottled in bond, which means it had at least four years of cask aging and is at least 100 proof. That extra aging gives it more complexity than some of the other ryes we've tried, and makes it a worthy substitution for other American or Canadian whiskeys, especially in cocktails. In fact, pound for pound, this is our favorite whiskey in this price range of all the bottles we tried this year, and we plan to try other ryes as soon as we can to see how they measure up.
If you can find it, we recommend Rittenhouse Bottled in Bond for the next time you're whipping up a batch of Rock and Rye cough syrup, when you want to branch away from other types of American or Canadian whiskey, and any time you feel like starting an insurrection.
Learn more about Rittenhouse on the Heaven Hill Other Whiskey page.
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Posted by Jake Jamieson at December 7, 2005 6:07 AM