Rittenhouse Straight Rye Whiskey: Bringing Refinement to Rye


Rittenhouse Straight Rye Whisky

Note the empty bottle…it creeps up on you.

Smoth’s Rating: 8.8/10

Straight rye whiskeys are incredibly popular right now, and if you’ve hopped aboard the bandwagon, Rittenhouse Straight Rye Whisky is one you’re definitely not going to want to miss. In spite of its high ABV (50%) it is so easily sippable it seems a shame to use it in your Manhattan (even though it would be amazing.)

What seems to be a running theme of high-rye whiskeys are that they are aggressive to the point of off-putting. When our intern tried Bulleit Rye he visibly grimaced. They can be a bit more spicy, bitter and intense than their corn-based brethren. But somehow, Rittenhouse Rye pulls it off, combining the assertive rye characteristics with superb balance.

Rittenhouse Rye Tasting Notes

When I taste a straight rye, I expect lots of cherry, black pepper, and a solid kick of bitterness. What I got from Rittenhouse was something quite different. It pours a rich brown amber, so it looks the part of a conventional rye. But on the nose (once you get passed the rather vigorous alcohol fumes) it smells of corn syrup, brown sugar and sweet oak. It’s incredibly inviting.

The taste is far from disappointing. Rittenhouse comes on warm and seductively with fresh brown sugar, vanilla and toasted wood. It gets a bit of complexity with an undertone of blood orange, molasses and rye spice, and finishes with a lush sweet oak that goes on and on. Sure, it’s 100 proof, but Rittenhouse is so dangerously drinkable you might think it’s non-alcoholic. Full disclosure — as I’m writing this I’m nursing a mild weekday hangover from having one too many glasses of Rittenhouse Rye the night before. Thing was, I didn’t even notice, it went down that easy.

All in all, it’s a damn good dram. Rittenhouse manages to craft a very accessible rye, without producing an overly simple whiskey. It’s a rousing success, and one my intern may have actually enjoyed sipping slow.

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