Now, that’s more like it. I bought a bottle of Rittenhouse 100 rye purely on a recommendation, and I think it’s a fantastic dram for an even more fantastic price. All rye whiskies share a similar flavor profile, full of baking spices like nutmeg and cinnamon, as well as black and white peppers and middle-eastern spices like cumin, clove, etc. This one is no exception, and is bottled at 100 proof (50% ABV) to boot. It is bottled in bond at approximately 6 years old. Shame on Heaven Hill Distilleries for not providing a website – or even a page on their own website – for this brand.
Nose: Cinnamon, clove, black pepper. Big spicy rye presence without too much nose tickle. Smooth and peppery. A little sweet overtone of marshmallow and black cherry. Also there’s a big oak influence – verging on woody. A few drops of water seem to dull the nose.
Palate: Medium body without much heft. The higher proof makes itself felt on the tongue, but quickly gives way to smoke, with charred wood upfront and a suggestion of smoked meat. Next there is a range of tobacco, clove, cinnamon, allspice, and brown sugar. A crackling Thanksgiving turkey comes to mind, or a pumpkin spice latte.
Finish: Long, evolving through spiced chai, vanilla, black tea and a lingering ghost of spent charcoal and, of all things, spearmint. A very nice progression, without any bitterness. The water coaxes out an extra few sweet notes – butterscotch hard candies and birch beer.
Overall: A tasty, satisfying dram. The smoky and peppery tobacco notes balance very well with the sweeter chai and brown sugar notes. It does not have the overbearing sweetness of some bourbons, nor the acrid dryness of some ryes. Not ground-breaking, but very much worth the price of a bottle. This is the kind of “ah hah!” flavor that brings life to the “American whiskey is a good value” adage. It’s certainly not true of several whiskies I’ve tried recently, but this one almost makes up for all of those. 😉 If you’re curious about rye and want to taste a good one without shelling out for something top-shelf, get a bottle of this.