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Rye whiskey - HELP

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Rye whiskey - HELP

Postby Admiral » Thu Apr 03, 2008 11:06 pm

Hi friends,

I need some quick and sharp advice:

* Rittenhouse Rye Whiskey
* Pikesville Rye Whiskey

Which is the most rye-heavy bottling and which would best demonstrate the "This is rye whiskey" mould to a bunch of whisk(e)y newbies?

(And please, I know there are better ryes out there, but I need to restrict this discussion to the above two bottlings only. Any help and comments greatly appreciated).

Cheers,
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Re: Rye whiskey - HELP

Postby Laphroaig » Thu Apr 03, 2008 11:42 pm

Rittenhouse, which would be the question. The 100º BIB (Bottled in Bond) is about the best thing since sliced bread imho for what it costs.

The 80 proof, I can do without.

The 21 is over-priced imho, with the 23 being specially bottled for people who failed math at least twice.

JMHO of course.
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Re: Rye whiskey - HELP

Postby oldrip57 » Fri Apr 04, 2008 4:12 am

Laphroaig wrote:Rittenhouse, which would be the question. The 100º BIB (Bottled in Bond) is about the best thing since sliced bread imho for what it costs.

The 80 proof, I can do without.

The 21 is over-priced imho, with the 23 being specially bottled for people who failed math at least twice.

JMHO of course.


Good advice, with the following additions:
  • the Rittenhouse 80 is a very good mixer
  • the Rittenhouse 21 was almost 22 when released, and the 23 was barely 23 when released. They are pretty much the same whiskey, except for the latter's even-more-premium price. (For whatever it's worth, I tasted the former at barrel-proof -- it was stellar! -- and find it suffered from the proof reduction. It's overpriced, and the 23 even more so)
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Re: Rye whiskey - HELP

Postby bamber » Fri Apr 04, 2008 9:26 am

I would say the Pikesville but it's pretty gruesome stuff.

Had some of the Rittenhouse 100 proof last night - what a great bargain that stuff is. Reminds me a little of Old Grandad 114 proof.
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Re: Rye whiskey - HELP

Postby Laphroaig » Fri Apr 04, 2008 3:07 pm

Admiral,

Sorry I over looked the underlying gist of your post. I don't know much about Pikesville. I tasted some once at a get together where we went through so many different items over a short period of time, that I'd be kidding myself not to mention you, if I pretended to offer a concise tasting assessment.

To be honest, my favorite Rittenhouse (the 100 BIB) is not what I would describe as "very rye". Keep in mind I was NOT around during colonial times (tongue in cheek, of course), but from descriptions, rye was a rougher, rawer whiskey than most of what we are imbibing today.

When you say, you want a rye that says "this is rye", I assume you are leaning towards more of the older characteristics not always as upfront in many of the ryes on market today? There seems to be a noticeable decline in spice, particular the sort of minty peppery aspects that I use to find more the norm in the past. When I really break it down, many of the more recent released ryes taste like slightly to considerably souped up rye formula bourbons if you ask me.

From what little I remember, I'm going to say Pikesville is more like what I would guess "old school" rye might have tasted like.
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Re: Rye whiskey - HELP

Postby oldrip57 » Sat Apr 05, 2008 3:19 pm

Both Pikesville and Rittenhouse today are made by Heaven Hill, which has only one straight-rye recipe (they still distill rye only a day or two a year!), at c. 51% rye.
I disagree that straight rye is a 'rough' whiskey, and today's still retain a rye grain/floral/licorice-anise spiciness that is also present in Old Potrero ryes, which are distilled from 100% malted rye. I've tasted straight rye from as far back as 1919 distillation, and it's all been recognizable as 'rye' to me (which is not to say that all are the same). I don't know how it could ever have been much different, except lesser aged (and I've had little-aged Isaiah Morgan rye from West Virginia, and it's pretty much like rye-bread 'white dog').
Anyway, all that said, the Rittenhouse is far superior to the Pikesville, which is, presumably, four years old (no age stated -- and under 4 they MUST tell you, while they generally do over that. Contradictorily, Rittenhouse BIB IS 6 years old, and they don't state that, either.)
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Re: Rye whiskey - HELP

Postby Laphroaig » Sat Apr 05, 2008 4:59 pm

I would agree with that assessment rip, but would also guess that back in the day the wood used had no, or very limited insight into long term ageing, nor was the spirit necessarily pre-designed to the age concept we are experiencing today. What I'm pretty sure you realize - that many others appear totally oblivious to, today, is the fact that the better majority of what was on the market (rye and bourbon) with more than 12 years of age, was basically over production that for what ever reason went unsold / purchased in what should have been its "heyday".

While I taste rye concepts in Rittenhouse's BIB, it isn't a bell ringing, lingering spicy rye like others, and is more akin to VWFR Rye as in (to me) mildly rye.

As stated, my sampling of Pikesville was limited to one not strikingly memorable occasion, but I'd guess the "superiority" you refer to is not simply two years barrel difference. FWIW, remember the fire. My bottles of Rittenhouse Rye 100 BIB state DSP# 354 on the label. If you do a little research, you'll note that particular DSP# does not belong to Heaven Hill.

In a nutshell as back and forth as we may sound, I think we agree (in different sounding-biting context, perhaps).To me, your description of Pikesville (simpler, less aged etc.) echos my thoughts on rawer rye of the two brand examples under inquiry.

I'm curious if you think RhR is a superior beverage / whiskey or if you'd say on "rye" characteristics it's supreme? My feeling is it is a superior product, but not based on a "this is rye" concept. Rittenhouse certainly is not as sharp as some other "this is rye", ryes. Floating it on a cocktail might not leave much, if any distinguishable rye characteristics at all.

JMHO of course.
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Re: Rye whiskey - HELP

Postby oldrip57 » Sun Apr 06, 2008 3:19 am

Laphroaig wrote:...I'm curious if you think RhR is a superior beverage / whiskey or if you'd say on "rye" characteristics it's supreme? My feeling is it is a superior product, but not based on a "this is rye" concept. Rittenhouse certainly is not as sharp as some other "this is rye", ryes. Floating it on a cocktail might not leave much, if any distinguishable rye characteristics at all.

JMHO of course.


Agreed, we are largely in agreement here. And yet, I have tasted some whiskey (Old Belmont bourbon) that was distilled in 1899 and bottled in 1918, so 19 years old. While I think, generally, whiskey was aged much less 100 and more years ago, ultra-aged whiskey certainly was NOT unknown. Conversely, I've participated in several discussions of whether or not we're living in a 'golden age' of American whiskey, what with the glut from the sales slumps of the '70s and early-'80s providing product for well-aged, single-barrel, and other premium bottlings. I think, as we enter a period of tight supply vs. demand, we may ALL retroactively agree so soon enough.
Regarding the Rittenhouse vis-a-vis Pikesville, the former is more in what I would call the 'Kentucky rye' style -- richer, and more floral -- than the Pikesville which, while now made in Kentucky, is more of the Eastern Pennsylvania/Maryland motif, which tends to be lighter in body, grain-centric and spicy. I've enjoyed some very fine Pikesville distilled shortly after Prohibition ended, and currently have a Continental/Publicker bottle of the original Rittenhouse BIB -- both are certainly of a different taste profile and style than the Kentucky brands today.
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