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

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 bottled in bond overview

Heaven Hill makes a lot of bourbon, but they also make a few rye whiskey as well. Rittenhouse Rye happens to be Heaven Hill’s most affordable and entry-level rye. Don’t get me wrong, entry-level doesn’t mean bad because it’s still a respectable 4 years old and bottled in bond, with all the rules that come with bottled in bond (e.g., at least 4 years old, 100 proof from the same distilling season, same master distiller, etc). 

Now that I think about it, Rittenhouse Rye may be one of the least-expensive bottled in bond ryes on the planet, about the same as Old Overhold Bottled in Bond. That probably explains why I bought a bottle of Rittenhouse Rye years ago as part of my journey to learn about whiskey. I haven’t had it since, but that also opens up the opportunity to re-acquaint myself with what is considered a classic rye whiskey. And just so I’m clear, this is a different bottle of Rittenhouse Rye, not the same one I bought years ago.

If you haven’t had Rittenhouse Rye before, this is a great opportunity to learn more about a rye that many recommend as a great place to start. If you have had it before, then this is a great opportunity to get a better idea of what you might be smelling and tasting, and what I personally think about it. Let’s revisit this affordable rye in this Rittenhouse Rye review.

As an FYI, I bought and use these Glencairn glasses for my reviews and comparisons (because they’re the best): Glencairn Crystal Whiskey Glass, Set of 6, Clear, 6 Pack. Full transparency, this is an affiliate link, so I may earn a commission if you buy this or something else from Amazon.

rittenhouse rye bottled in bond smell

Rittenhouse Rye 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. You can probably attribute that to Rittenhouse having 51% rye and many MGP ryes having 95% rye.

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 that it is not nutty at all, because pretty much every Heaven Hill bourbon is.

Pikesville Rye (6 years old and 110 proof) 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 bottled in bond taste and 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 alcohol 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 black 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 Rye 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.


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Place on the Whiskey Shelf

Mid Shelf

Rittenhouse Rye is solid quintessential rye whiskey with a balanced blend of honey, licorice, anise, dill, 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. Given what else is out there in the price range (Old Overhold Bonded, Old Forester Rye), it’s a pretty good option.

If you haven’t had any or much rye whiskey before, Rittenhouse Rye is a good rye whiskey to use as your introduction, or another stepping store to learn more about rye, because there’s a lot more rye whiskey out there…it just often happens to be more expensive. 

Now 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. I will say that Pikesville is a huge upgrade, but again everyone’s budget is different. 

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.

Alex author

Meet the Author: Alex

I have far too much fun writing about whiskey and singlehandedly running The Whiskey Shelf to bring you independent, honest, and useful reviews, comparisons, and more. I’m proudly Asian American and can speak Cantonese, Mandarin, and some Japanese.
There are no sponsors, no media companies, and no nonsense. Support The Whiskey Shelf by Buying Me A Shot.
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If you’re on the move, this Glencairn-like stainless steel snifter glass should survive your travels. Shattered glass Glencairn’s really suck. Full transparency, this is an Amazon affiliate link, so I may earn a commission if you buy this or something else from Amazon.

BrüMate NOS’R, Double-Wall Stainless Steel Whiskey Nosing Glass – 7oz (Matte Black)

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