Review: Rittenhouse Bottled in Bond Straight Rye Whiskey

IMG_1911 Rittenhouse is a brand produced by Heaven Hill, the largest family-owned beverage alcohol producer in the USA and the second largest bourbon producer after Jim Beam. This rye whiskey has been around for some time, as one of the best deals (perhaps the best) in terms of price and quality for a straight rye. This whiskey is bottled in bond, a labeling measure which was put in place in 1897 in order to protect the quality of good whiskey. To put “bottled in bond” on the label, the whiskey has to be the product of one distillation season, produced by a single distillery, aged in a federally bonded warehouse under US Government supervision for at least 4 years, and bottled at 50% ABV (or 100 American proof). These restrictions are stricter than those for Bourbon (produced in US, use new oak barrels, distilled to no more than 80% ABV, and put in the cask at 62.5%, bottled at at least 40%, with the age written on the label if it is less than 4 years old) and Straight Bourbon (minimum age 2 years without colouring or flavouring added). Thus, to an extent, it is a bit stricter of a labelling regulation.

Nose: Fresh oak and floral, candied rye in great measure, orange peel, along with some honey, and anise. Quite an expressive nose – not difficult at all to smell with your nose quite a bit away from the glass. However, if you search deeper, you find tannins and some bitterness which is too much. Thankfully, with time this is a less significant factor as the aroma develops. Caramel and vanilla come out in time, and some funky farmy earthiness with the honey and oak continuing to grow. The beginning of the nose isn’t that great, but as you get used to it and it develops it really starts to come out wonderfully. 26.5/30 (88%)

Taste: A good dosage of rye coming through, with the oak counterbalancing and eventually winning out. There’s a lot of honey, and still has the heaven hill style in the mix of it. As I’ve said before, one great thing about visiting distilleries is getting into the barrel houses with the smells – and this reminds me of that Heaven Hill characteristic. The guy who was giving us the tour told us at the time that if Buffalo Trace barreled their bourbon there, it would taste like Heaven Hill, and likewise, if Heaven Hill barreled their bourbon at Buffalo Trace, it would taste like Buffalo Trace. The grain comes through nicely, too – rich and buttery, and the corn seems to come through on the end. Delicious stuff. Spicy on the end, too. Really – a quite fabulous integration of complex grains, oak, and spice. 27.5/30 (91%)

Finish: after the intensity of the palate, the oak takes the reins and slows the whole thing down leaving you into slow, sweet oak and honey with some spiciness in the mix too and some apples. anise, once again. 17.5/20 (88%)

Conclusion: This is so popular, and with such great demand, a worker at Heaven Hill told me that they actually sell this stuff at a loss in order to keep the IMG_1915brand profile high until some of the other prices rise.This is great stuff, and terrific value especially in the states – as with most Heaven Hill products, in fact. I am quite a fan of what I’ve had from them (Evan Williams, Elijah Craig 12, Larceny, Parker’s Heritage Collection Promise of Hope) 18/20 (90%)

Overall: 89.5/100

Review: 1792 Ridgemont Reserve Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

IMG_1917 This whisky 8 years old – older than the average bourbon, and very much done more in the style of a “modern” bourbon – a bit more of a silky and soft sort of bourbon. The distillery is owned by Sazerac, who also own Buffalo Trace Distillery, and they give quite a nice and different distilery tour which I quite recommend – it’s a bit more industrial than the others if you’re in the area and it’s not even on the official Kentucky Bourbon Trail. The 1792 on the bottle refers to the year that Kentucky became a state Recently the bottled was changed and, to me, the new bottle looks much more like a cognac bottle than a bourbon bottle. Too bad, really – I quite like the look of the old bottle (as pictured above).

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Review: Bulleit Straight Rye Whiskey

IMG_1887This whisky, along with so many others (Templeton Rye, George Dickel Rye, Redemption Rye, Smooth Ambler, High West Rye, along with others) is not produced at the distillery of the brand name (if indeed, the brand even has a distillery) but rather at Midwest Grain Products (MGP) in Indiana where the whiskies are mashed, distilled, and aged. Their classic rye mash bill uses a recipe of 95% rye, which is very high for American straight ryes – for example, Wild Turkey Rye and Rittenhouse Rye are only 51% rye. MGP was originally owned by Seagram’s, a Canadian company, at a time when they also owned Four Roses and the yeast used is the same as the “V” yeast of four roses (as used in their Single Barrel bottling, among others). High rye whiskies are more common in Canada, but they are (unfortunately) not often seen as their own bottlings because they are usually used to flavour blends, as spices flavour food. The whisky doesn’t have an age statement, but is likely relatively young (perhaps 4-6 years).

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Review: George Dickel Rye Whiskey

Dickel RyeGeorge Dickel produces a number of products which they filter through maple charcoal in the Lincoln County process – a signature of Tennesse whisky (and, therefore, also Jack Daniel’s). George Dickel is the other major Tennessee distillery, making this rye – however, this one they don’t distill. They do filter it through maple charcoal, but it is produced at MGP in Indiana – a distillery well known for their rye (used in Bulleit rye, this one, and others) with a signature 95% rye mashbill. It is about 5 years old.

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Fast Review: Yamazaki 12 Year Old Japanese Single Malt Whisky

Yamazaki 12Yamazaki is between Osaka and Kyoto, Japan’s first whisky distillery built by Shinjiro Torii. It has 6 different stills all of different shapes and sizes. There are different estimates around how many different styles of malts produced here puts them around 120 –  but no one knows for certain. The distillery is owned by Suntory – one of the world whisky giants.

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Fast Review: Nikka Miyagikyo 10 Year Old Single Malt Japanese Whisky

Miyagikyo 10Miyagikyo is located in the foothills of the miyagi prefecture near the town of Sendai. It was built in 1969, the second distillery made by Nikka, after Yoichi. The distillery encounters very high humidity and still uses a coffey still dating back to 19th century. It took the meticulous Masataku Taketsuru 3 years to find the site, his second one.

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Review: George Dickel No. 12 Tennessee Sour Mash Whiskey

Dickel no. 12George Dickel is the other distillery in Tennessee, the second major whiskey producer in Tennessee after Jack Daniel’s – the largest American whiskey producer in the world. This whiskey is aged 12 years, and filtered through maple charcoal in regulation with the Lincoln County process which Tennessee Whiskey employs. However, unlike Jack Daniel’s, George Dickel chill their products before they filter it through the charcoal, and do so faster than Jack Daniel’s resulting in a different stripping process. Great value for this whiskey, and often a pleasant surprise for guests at tastings I have lead.

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