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.
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).
This 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).
George 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.
Yamazaki 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.
Miyagikyo 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.
George 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.