Classification: Straight Rye
Company: Heaven Hill
Distillery: Heaven Hill
Mashbill: 51% Rye, 37% Corn, 12% Malted Barley
MSRP: $25 (2017)
Rittenhouse Rye is produced in the tradition of the classic Pennsylvania or "Monongahela" rye whiskeys, which are believed to have had a spicier and fruitier flavor profile. This style is said to be a high rye mashbill consisting of 80-100% rye grain. Ironically Rittenhouse is a low rye (51%) which is typical of the modern Kentucky rye mashbill.
This is a Bottled in Bond (BiB) rye. To be labelled BiB, the whiskey must be the product of one distillation season and one distiller at a single distillery, aged in a federally bonded warehouse under U.S. government supervision for at least four years, and it must be bottled at exactly 100 proof. Additionally, the BiB label must clearly identify the distillery where it was distilled and where it was bottled, if different.
A nice mixture of fruit and grain are immediately noticeable. Dried bananas and light peaches are mixed with hints of malty grains. It reminds me of a bowl of breakfast oatmeal in the sense that it’s a pleasing scent but one that’s very mellow and light. Surprisingly, it’s not very spicy at all.
The peaches and dried bananas from the nose carry over, and now they’re nicely mixed with white pepper with a dash of spice. While the pepper and spice mixture is nice, it’s far from being your typical bold spicy rye flavor profile which you see with a lot of modern day ryes. Instead it’s more on the mellow fruity end. Additionally, Rittenhouse Rye doesn’t have a heavy mouthfeel however it’s also not light by any means. It’s really nicely balanced overall.
Leather, lightly charred oak, and light peach along with pepper and a dash of classic rye spice are all noticeable. While there’s a pleasant dash of heat up front, it’s not overly hot, and not overly spicy. Dried fruit and white pepper linger for a while on the back end of the finish. While the finish is definitely on the shorter side and I wish it lasted longer, it’s still very enjoyable.
By virtue of there only being two mainstream BiB ryes in the market (the other being E.H. Taylor Straight Rye), Rittenhouse automatically becomes slightly unique. However, where it distinguishes itself is in the fact that this is one of the fruitier mainstream ryes on the market. While hints of rye spice try to surface in the palate and the finish, I can’t think of any other nationally distributed rye that packs this much fruit in the overall flavor profile.
Similar to Woodford Reserve Rye, which is another rye that has an non typical flavor profile and low rye in the mashbill, some might be surprised by what they find during their first sip. This is especially true if one bought this rye expecting to find a more typical spicier and hotter rye flavor profile found in many modern day ryes. That being said while Woodford Reserve Rye leans more towards a typical bourbon flavor profile, Rittenhouse Rye still grounds itself as a rye, just one that’s very fruit-forward. As a result, this might be appealing to bourbon drinkers looking to begin an exploration into ryes, as it does not have the intense spice many other modern day ryes offer.
While the number of ryes in the marketplace is much smaller than the number of bourbons, the price range is similar. Coming in at $25, Rittenhouse Rye is one of the more budget-friendly ryes in the marketplace with others like Jim Beam Rye, Wild Turkey Rye, and Old Overholt coming in a few dollars cheaper. This is priced right to be either a sipper or as a great fruit-forward cocktail base. Because of this, Rittenhouse is priced perfectly for what it is. You won’t feel like you overpaid for it, even with a flavor profile leaning heavily away from your typical bold spicy rye.
Don’t let its fruit forward flavor profile fool you, this is definitely a pleasant rye that’s worth a try.
If you’re searching for a bold spicy rye, you won’t find it here. However, if you have an open mind to a more mellow fruitier rye, you’ve come to the right place. Additionally for individuals who usually drink bourbon but are just exploring ryes, this is a nice “bridging” rye that helps you start to explore the world of ryes without jumping straight into the bolder spicier ones.
Rittenhouse Rye may start with a weaker nose, but it pulls through and redeems itself with a slightly more pleasant palate and finish. The fruit mixes nicely with the light pepper and heat and provides a really easy to drink rye. Combined with the fact that this drinks lower than its 100 proof leads you to believe, I found myself drinking through this quicker than I thought I would. Sure it’s not mindblowing, but because it can easily be found on most shelves for $25 and it can be enjoyed either neat, straight-up, or in a cocktail, it makes for a really great versatile rye worth trying.