rittenhouse rye review

Rittenhouse Rye Bottled in Bond

rittenhouse rye review

Distillery: Heaven Hill

Type & Region: Rye Whiskey, Kentucky, USA

Alcohol: 50%

Composition: 51% rye, 39% corn, 10% barley

Aged: 4 years in virgin American white oak

Color: 1.1/2.0 on the color scale (burnished)

Price: $20-25

From the Heaven Hill website:

“Rittenhouse Straight Rye Whiskey has a storied past with a heritage that commemorates Philadelphia’s famous Rittenhouse Square. Bottled-in-Bond, today’s Rittenhouse carries the distinct, spicy flavor that is long associated with the brand. Rittenhouse is the Rye whiskey of choice for both mixologists and whiskey aficionados alike.”

Company Website

rittenhouse rye overview

Rittenhouse Rye is Heaven Hill’s not quite entry-level rye whiskey. I say not quite entry level because while it may be the most affordable rye that Heaven Hill makes, it’s still a respectable 4 years old and bottled in bond. I bought a bottle of this years ago as I started learning more about whiskey, but haven’t drank this in years, so it’s also good for me to revisit Rittenhouse. There’s no need for me to drag out this overview, so let’s get reacquainted in this Rittenhouse Rye review.

rittenhouse rye smell

Rittenhouse is rye whiskey through and through with sweet licorice, dill, and honey to start. It comes off moderately dark and not as explosively bright, tropical, and rye-forward as some MGP-sourced ryes such as older batches of High West’s Double Rye (partially MGP) or Bulleit 12 Year. The sweet and herbal qualities are followed by malty rye bread, slightly musty oak, and cinnamon, then dried fruits – orange, apple, berry, and starfruit. In terms of herbalness, licorice and dill are front and center, with less mint and eucalyptus. The alcohol is well controlled.

 

Swirling brings the alcohol to life, mixed with licorice, eucalyptus, and honey with a little mint bubblegum. Dark oak comes back with cinnamon and raw cocoa powder followed by underlying baked apple and starfruit. The most surprising thing about Rittenhouse rye is not that the heat is well controlled, but that it is not nutty at all. Pikesville Rye (6 years old instead of 4) is quite grassy and nutty, but it’s virtually nonexistent in Rittenhouse. Nonetheless, Rittenhouse smells pleasant, but it’s not outstanding or unique.

rittenhouse rye taste & aftertaste

Rittenhouse Rye has the herbal and sweet licorice and honey that I expect from rye whiskey, but again not as intensely herbal or tropical as MGP ryes. Rye bread and grain mixed with oak and cinnamon appear afterwards, reinforcing that this is a youngish rye, but the lack of strong kick also tells me that this has been aged long enough to develop some maturity. Like many rye whiskeys, this reminds a lot of sweet and bitter herbal tea.

 

After “chewing”, I still taste sweet honey baked rye bread and licorice. After a moment the oak starts to settle-in with cinnamon, clove, and just a sprinkle of cocoa with hints of apples and oranges. The alcohol bite is a tad stronger now, but it’s still not harsh at all. Rittenhouse Rye starts sweet and herbal then transitions to dark, roasted, and bitter (but only slightly) after a few seconds.

 

Many of the same notes carry over into the finish. Overall it’s quite dry with honey, licorice, and oak. With “chewing”, the finish is still sweet, herbal, and bitter, but now with hints of grated dried orange rind. Rittenhouse leaves such a dry sensation on my tongue that I didn’t expect. Also quite interesting, a fleeting cocoa note appears after about a minute, so it’s nice that the finish continues to evolve over time.

Place on the Whiskey Shelf

Mid Shelf

Rittenhouse Rye is solid quintessential rye whiskey with a balanced blend of anise, dill, honey, oak, spice, bread, and fruit. It’s not spectacular or unique, but it carries itself well enough to sip neat or mix into a cocktail. If you’re looking for a more unique, intense, or complex experience, I recommend Pikesville Rye (also from Heaven Hill), which is 2 years older, 10 proof higher, and leaps and bounds more mature. This is assuming that you’re willing to pay an extra $20-30. 

 

Fun fact, I picked Pikesville over Thomas Handy Sazerac in a head to head comparison, so that’s high praise. If you are looking to get into rye whiskey or need something on-hand for cocktails, then Rittenhouse is a great bottle to buy.

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