Rittenhouse rye 100 proof $22/750ml in NYC. Rittenhouse rye is a "Pennsylvania style" rye (according to the back label) made in Kentucky by Heaven Hill. Recently Sku's Eats has had a couple of posts on the Old Monongahela rye style: robust and full flavored. I imagine this is what they are talking about.
Color: rich amber with olive tints
Nose: rich sweet grassy herbal bourbony nose with some turpentine, honey, salt,
Entry is sweet with treacle sugars. There's a broad creamy expansion at mid-palate where the sweetness turns spicy all around the periphery of your tongue. There's an abundance of cereal and baked goods flavors in the mid-palate: Irish soda bread, rye crackers, johnny cake, all mingled with the warm honeyed treacle of the opening. There are also some vinous sherry or madeira-like notes... Harvey's Bristol Cream? The usual description of this flavor aspect is "cherry", but that doesn't capture the the elegant spirit nature of the fruit. Those cherry or grape spirit notes are underneath the cereal flavors. The transition to the finish starts with herbal and meaty flavors like ivy and prosciutto (or just old fashioned salt pork) and ends with a salty aftertaste like you had been eating too many pretzels or too much bacon. The salty finish demands a palate clearing sip... maybe water... or the glass of rye in hand. It's a self suggesting finish - like cocaine or crack. I found the finish a thirsty feeling; readily remedied by a re-ignition of treacle heat by another sip... and another. Suck in air a few minutes after a sip dies away and you get that sweet rye crisp, ivy herb, and salt flavor. This isn't one of those shy ryes. It's a big robust fully flavored rye that will please you - if you don't mind the very salty finish.
I've had a salty peanut of a tot recently: Wild Turkey 101. It, too, was an inexpensive Kentucky whiskey that felt like it was knocking on the door of the high end in terms of quality. Both are almost the same proof too (nice and high). Rittenhouse is a bit more impressive in my book - a tad more yummy, a tad more unique and unusual (maybe just because it's a rye).
Rittenhouse is quite different from the other two ryes I have open at the moment: Old Potrero, and Russel's Reserve 6. Old Potrero is much more herbal with a much stronger peppery effervescence. Russel's Reserve 6 is very creamy and floral and also has that effervescence. Rittenhouse lacks the effervescence and just has peppery heat instead. It's less herbal than Potrero and not really floral. It has some creaminess, however. Indeed, all the ryes seem to share some version of herbal note, peppery heat, and creaminess to some extent. But, only the Rittenhouse has the meaty salty finish, though.
Rittenhouse rye is a nice robust slice of rye whiskey flavor at a price that lets you use it heedlessly. Bless Heaven Hill for that. Unlike cheap blended Scotch or Vodka there is zero distilled grain spirit taste. Every drop of Rittenhouse tastes real - no fillers. This is a monster of a value at the price.