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Rittenhouse Bonded Rye


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I just purchased a bottle of this elixir from the lovely folks at Smith & Vine, at 246 Smith St. here in Brooklyn (718-243-2864); the've got 3 cases in stock. For those of you who don't know this stuff, it's 100 proof, 6 years old, and absolutely perfect for Sazeracs and Old-Fashioneds and suchlike, but it's also smooth and rich enough for sipping. And cheap, cheap, cheap. In other words, run, don't walk.

aka David Wondrich

There are, according to recent statistics, 147 female bartenders in the United States. In the United Kingdom the barmaid is a feature of the wayside inn, and is a young woman of intelligence and rare sagacity. --The Syracuse Standard, 1895

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I just purchased a bottle of this elixir from the lovely folks at Smith & Vine, at 246 Smith St. here in Brooklyn (718-243-2864); the've got 3 cases in stock. For those of you who don't know this stuff, it's 100 proof, 6 years old, and absolutely perfect for Sazeracs and Old-Fashioneds and suchlike, but it's also smooth and rich enough for sipping. And cheap, cheap, cheap. In other words, run, don't walk.

Is Rittenhouse tough to find in NYC? If so, yes, be sure to run out and grab a couple bottles. It's really, really great stuff. It's dry, kinda spicy, lots more going on than you'll find in the otherwise perfectly adequate Old Overholt and, even better, in Chicago it's the same price as Old Overcoat.

It's so good and so cheap that I haven't gotten around to trying the Beam and Wild Turkey ryes--at half-again and twice as much--let alone the really pricey ones. So, while I can't tell you that Rittenhouse is better than Beam, WTurkey, Michter's, et al, I can say that you absolutely can't beat it on value. It's $11 at Sam's and $12 at Binny's. I haven't seen it at any of the smaller stores I've visited but there are Binny's stores all over Chicagoland. Note, however, that Binny's carries both the 80 proof and the 100 proof so double-check the label.

Sure, I'm looking forward to trying Michter's and Old Potrero's ryes but Rittenhouse makes the wait pretty easy to take.

Kurt

“I like to keep a bottle of stimulant handy in case I see a snake--which I also keep handy.” ~W.C. Fields

The Handy Snake

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Kurt, are those low prices for the bonded (i.e., 100 proof) Rittenhouse or the 80 proof version? One of the nice things about Wild Turkey's rye is that it's 100 proof (and a little rough around the edges).

--

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I really like the Wild Turkey 101 Rye in Sazeracs. It has a nice spicy flavor and a good kick to it.

I haven't yet tried the Michter's; but, my Bourbon and Rye guru friend told me he was disappointed with it for the price.

Funny story. Some friends and I were sitting down for dinner at a restaurant when one of the wait staff dumps a glass of cold water and ice in one of my friend's lap. They tell us to go to the bar, and get a free round while they clean it up. I noticed they had a bottle of the Old Potrero Rye, and decide, I'm getting that, if I'm getting a free drink. Sadly, after I made my choice, they told us, oh, ooops, sorry, we will only comp the friend who was spilled upon. Bastards! Anyway, the Old Portrero was very nice, depite the daggers from my friends' eyes.

I've never seen Rittenhouse here; but, I will have to keep an eye out.

---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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Kurt, are those low prices for the bonded (i.e., 100 proof) Rittenhouse or the 80 proof version?  One of the nice things about Wild Turkey's rye is that it's 100 proof (and a little rough around the edges).

Sam, those are indeed the prices for the bonded. The 80 proof is two bucks less. If you're at all familiar with the Rittenhouse rye this may explain why I haven't gotten around to trying the somewhat pricier Beam or WTurkey ryes. If $11 is substantially cheaper than what they're asking in Brooklyn you might want to check on the s/h costs at the stores I linked to. Both do mail order.

Kurt

“I like to keep a bottle of stimulant handy in case I see a snake--which I also keep handy.” ~W.C. Fields

The Handy Snake

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rittenhouse is available in pennsylvania, but by special order only.

Huh. The name made me curious whether there's a Pennsylvania or Philadelphia connection with Rittenhouse Rye, and it turns out there is. From the Heaven Hill website:

Produced in the tradition of the classic Pennsylvania or “Monongahela” rye whiskies, Rittenhouse is a much acclaimed rye now enjoying a renaissance in the major metro markets of the country. Available in the standard 80° bottling or in a special Bottled In Bond expression, Rittenhouse is a tribute to the classic rye whiskies that were once the preeminent American whiskey style, kept alive through the many lean years by Heaven Hill and two other Kentucky distilleries.

Where better to get Pennsylvania-style whiskey than Brooklyn, right?

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I'd re-try that Jim Beam Rye, James; I find it to be fantastic stuff, full of rich vanilla roundness and a silken finish. Its hard to find in NJ, but after a few shots of it at the Grey Lodge, I hunted that stuff down ,a dn it makes for a fine sipping whiskey.

Rich Pawlak

 

Reporter, The Trentonian

Feature Writer, INSIDE Magazine
Food Writer At Large

MY BLOG: THE OMNIVORE

"In Cerveza et Pizza Veritas"

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It just came into New York through Southern Wine & Spirits last month, so you'll begin to see it popping up around town. I'm surprised at the $11.00 retail though----it costs $11.46 per unit to industry here in NY, with no listed quantity discounts.

Audrey

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I'd re-try that Jim Beam Rye, James; I find it to be fantastic stuff, full of rich vanilla roundness and a silken finish.  Its hard to find in NJ, but after a few shots of it at the Grey Lodge, I hunted that stuff down ,a dn it makes for a fine sipping whiskey.

sure, i'll give it another shot.

i mainly remember it being... well, kinda boring, for lack of a better term. there wasn't much of that kinda just a little rough rye-y-ness to it, to my mind, and nothing that struck me as of interest in any real way--mainly it reminded me of an uninteresting canadian whiskey. like CC or something. kind of an unremarkable generic unidentifiable 'whiskey' taste.

but it's under $15 and at worst made for an inoffensive manhattan or other whiskey-based cocktail, so i'll give it another shot soon if i don't decide to go ahead and order the rittenhouse. after all, i won't deny that it could be that at the time i bought and drank the bottle i was really expecting or looking for something different.

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Back in the day, there used to be two styles of rye: Maryland and Monongahela. From what I can gather, the Maryland style was grassier, lighter and more piquant, while the Monongahela (Pennsylvania) style was darker and fuller in flavor. This is borne out by the examples of each still available in this decayed modern age. Heaven Hill, for example, still makes both styles: the Rittenhouse (an old Pennsylvania brand) is a perfect example of the Monongahela style, while their Pikesville Supreme (you thought Rittenhouse was hard to find!) is a Maryland style (I once bought a bottle of it from an 11-year-old boy for 11 bucks at 11:00 on a Sunday morning--the quintessential Baltimore experience).

Unfortunately, the Pikesville is bottled at 80 proof, which makes it taste watery (as does the 80-proff Rittenhouse bottling). That same defect, in my opinion, plagues both of Beam's offerings, the Pennsylvania-style Old Overholt and the Maryland-style Beam yellow label. I think at heart these are both potentially great whiskies, but that potential will only be realized if they're left to age a couple more years and bottled at around 100 proof.

I've been after Beam to issue a small-batch Overholt for years, but every time I elicit some interest the person interested retires or moves to another job. It's a shame, because Old Overholt was always a premium brand of whiskey (as far as I know, at 195 years it's also the oldest continually-maintained brand of whiskey in America). The 1930s bottling that Ted Haigh once made me a memorable Old-Fashioned from was 100 proof and 6 years old--just like the Rittenhouse, to which it bore a close resemblance.

I'm very fond of the Wild Turkey rye, which is a wilder and rougher affair than the Rittenhouse, but for that reason makes my favorite Manhattan--it can stand up to vermouth and bitters and still display a little bite.

aka David Wondrich

There are, according to recent statistics, 147 female bartenders in the United States. In the United Kingdom the barmaid is a feature of the wayside inn, and is a young woman of intelligence and rare sagacity. --The Syracuse Standard, 1895

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It just came into New York through Southern Wine & Spirits last month, so you'll begin to see it popping up around town.  I'm surprised at the $11.00 retail though----it costs $11.46 per unit to industry here in NY, with no listed quantity discounts.

Audrey

Chicago has some of the cheapest booze prices in the country and Sam's is even cheaper then most places. It's why we still mail order from them and come out ahead. That and the fact they carry almost everything that gets US imported or made (except Torani Amer).

regards,

trillium

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I just heard from the fabulous LeNell Smothers, of LeNell's in Red Hook (that's in Brooklyn, too) that they have the Rittenhouse, too. It's a definite trend, at least here on the right bank.

aka David Wondrich

There are, according to recent statistics, 147 female bartenders in the United States. In the United Kingdom the barmaid is a feature of the wayside inn, and is a young woman of intelligence and rare sagacity. --The Syracuse Standard, 1895

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  • 2 weeks later...

I had friends stop at Binney's before they road tripped it out to Portland for the sole purpose of scoring some bonded Rittenhouse. . . . they don't carry it any more, at least at the place they checked. They live out in the 'burbs so maybe that's why.

regards,

trillium

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I had friends stop at Binney's before they road tripped it out to Portland for the sole purpose of scoring some bonded Rittenhouse. . . . they don't carry it any more, at least at the place they checked.  They live out in the 'burbs so maybe that's why.

regards,

trillium

I believe there are 16 Binny's stores in the Greater Chicagoland area. I suppose it's likely that inventory at each store is somewhat different. That's too bad. The Binny's near downtown is where I picked up my first bottle. They had it on sale at the time and I remembered that Dave had mentioned it in a Manhattan thread so I stopped in. One of the salesguys saw me pick up a bottle and made a point of mentioning how good it was. He wasn't kidding.

Kurt

“I like to keep a bottle of stimulant handy in case I see a snake--which I also keep handy.” ~W.C. Fields

The Handy Snake

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  • 4 months later...

Does anyone know if this rye is still available at Smith and Vine or anywhere else in NYC? Managed to locate some of the Hirsch Canadian Rye in Rhode Island, but haven't been able to lay my hands on the Rittenhouse. I was very disappointed that Van Winkle discontinued their 12 yr. old rye since I preferred it to the reserve, so maybe this Pennsylvania rye can fill the void. Thanks for any info.

old scratch

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I recently hade a Whiskey Smash with the Rittenhouse 100 and it melded so well with the lemon oil and mint. I prefer it to bourbon as the drink is dryer. Boy do they spill down ones throat easily.

A DUSTY SHAKER LEADS TO A THIRSTY LIFE

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I recently hade a Whiskey Smash with the Rittenhouse 100 and it melded so well with the lemon oil and mint.  I prefer it to bourbon as the drink is dryer.  Boy do they spill down ones throat easily.

You can say that again--I was absorbing those all summer, at least until the mint-patch was reduced to a sea of sticks. Oh, Lord.

aka David Wondrich

There are, according to recent statistics, 147 female bartenders in the United States. In the United Kingdom the barmaid is a feature of the wayside inn, and is a young woman of intelligence and rare sagacity. --The Syracuse Standard, 1895

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I keep Rittenhouse in the well at Pegu, and we make one Whiskey smash after another. It makes a kick-ass Manhattan too. I've got a new variant I'm calling "Little Italy", which will go on the menu shortly:

Little Italy:

2 oz Rittenhouse

1/2 oz Cynar

3/4 oz Martini & Rossi Sweet Vermouth

Garnish with luxardo cherries.

I'm going through a case of Rittenhouse a week at this point, plus an additional case of other ryes as well. The distributors just chuckle----along with the cases of Punt e Mes, they've probably sold us more rye in the last 8 weeks than they've sold to all of NYC in the last 8 years...I'm sure they're moving those cases out of cobwebbed corners, and blowing the dust off them.

Audrey

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I'm going through a case of Rittenhouse a week at this point, plus an additional case of other ryes as well.
Just out of curiosity, what would those other ryes be? Like Overholt, Beam and WT, or the high-end stuff?

So we finish the eighteenth and he's gonna stiff me. And I say, "Hey, Lama, hey, how about a little something, you know, for the effort, you know." And he says, "Oh, uh, there won't be any money. But when you die, on your deathbed, you will receive total consciousness."

So I got that goin' for me, which is nice.

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Off the top of my head, I've seen Rittenhouse, Old Overholt, the Old Potrero bottlings, Wild Turkey, Van Winkle, a couple different kinds of Michter's, and Beam at Pegu. I don't think I've seen Pikesville, but I could be mistaken.

--

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