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Joe Blowe

All About Rye Whiskey (Part 1)

498 posts in this topic

I picked up some Lucid today (finally got it in Dallas). The first thing I did (after trying a little straight, diluted, and then lightly sugared), was make a Sazerac with WTRR Rye. It's superb. The herbal complexity of the absinthe draws out mint and spice in turn from the whiskey, and the drink suffers from none of the muddiness that can afflict a WT Rye/ Herbsaint combination. I'd recommend the RR Rye for a Sazerac if you pick up a bottle.


Tim

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After missing the boat several times already I finally got my hands on a few bottles of the Van Winkle Family Reserve 13yr Rye. I wasn't actually looking for it when I found it but I'm very glad it caught my eye.

They are from the "I" bottling and are very, very good.

I asked the owner of the liquor store when he got them and he said just recently and that they were a pain in the ass to acquire. So head's up Van Winkle is out there again and it's pretty spectacular.


Edited by Scotttos (log)

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I haven't tried the "I" bottling, but I do have the "H," which is the same stuff. Agreed that it is fantastic whiskey. I'm awaiting the arrival of "I" at my favorite store, but I may have to head for another locale and buy it while there's still some around, as I'm on my last bottle of "H." FWIW, the bottlings since "F" have all been identical. The whiskey in this line was 13 years old at the initial bottling. For the first few bottlings, it was a year older each year, as it was left in oak to continue aging. However, when it hit 19 years old, the whiskey was dumped into tanks, so it isn't aging anymore, just waiting for its annual bottling.

In other words, you're paying for a 13yo rye and getting a 19-yo. Enjoy :smile:


Tim

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I picked up a bottle of the Sazerac 18 yo Fall 2007 bottling.

I'll be curious to see it side by side with the 2006 version,

and if I can pick up any differences. I doubt I will, but hey.

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Today, I came across this article on an impending shortage of rye in the US. Money quote:

Rye flour stocks have been depleted in the United States, and by June or July there will be no more U.S. rye flour to purchase, said Lee Sanders, senior vice president for government relations and public affairs at the American Bakers Association.

[...]

She attributed the shortage to high demand for rye flour, which is used to make rye bread, and less acreage devoted to rye grain than in the past.

Is this going to have any impact on the production of rye whiskey?


Matthew Kayahara

Kayahara.ca

@mtkayahara

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RE: Rittenhouse.

Lenell mentioned in her email newsletter that Rittenhouse is currently out of stock "everywhere" and we all have to wait until they age more of it. Is she referring to the 21/23 yr, or the regular bonded as well?

I've heard a lot of rumors about this but does anyone have any additional info?

Do we have to wait years?

I've noticed the bonded in a few places and the price keeps going up and up . . . .

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I'd be interested to hear what people have to say about this. Rittenhouse 100 BIB is getting hard to find around here too.

ETA: Just talked to the folks at Joyal's in West Warwick, and they can't get it from the distributor.


Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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In Boston, the MA distributor is out of it, and offering the same, "we're waiting for more to age," explanation.

I'm told to not expect any in MA before the end of the year, and then, expect it to be allocated.

And I'm talking about the "regular" bonded 100 proof rye...


Marty McCabe

Boston, MA

Acme Cocktail Company

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Well, they can't just snap their fingers and make the stuff to keep up with demand like a gin or vodka maker could do. It takes time to make Rittenhouse BIB. Time that is measured in years. Six of them, in fact.

I think what happened is that Heaven Hill had no idea six years ago the demand for Rittenhouse BIB would be anywhere near as high as it turned out to be. Keep in mind that it was only two years ago that rye whiskey was poised to be a darling of the cocktailian set. When we were talking about rye back in December 2005, brown spirits were the "new thing" and when we were all joking about how "rye is the new vodka" it was a bit of a joke. Fast-forward 28 months or so, and now it seems like everyone is drinking the stuff. It's not so "retro cutting edge" any more. That's tough, because there is a six-year lag in Heaven Hill's ability to respond to demand. I have to believe that they've significantly increased production, but it's still likely to be quite a while before Rittenhouse BIB is easily available nationwide throughout the year. In the meantime, I gather that they have selectively distributed most of it to areas of the country where it will keep the interest of a critical mass of buzz-generating mixologists and cocktail enthusiasts, who will hopefully come to think of the product as indispensable, and then when there is sufficient supply to meet with rising demand, they will distribute more widely.


Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

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If one can locate Pikesville rye I would reccomend it as a good alternative to the Rittenhouse. I can't get it in PA but can in Maryland. I was once told the Pikesville is ONLY distributed in Maryland, but that I cannot confirm.

Of the ryes I have had, I find the Pikesville to be my favorite with a spiciness some others seem to lack

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Well, they can't just snap their fingers and make the stuff to keep up with demand like a gin or vodka maker could do.  It takes time to make Rittenhouse BIB.  Time that is measured in years.  Six of them, in fact.

This wasn't ever in any doubt. I understand the strain, demand, and arduous aging process. What I wasn't sure of was whether HH finally depleted the current stock and how long we would actually have to wait for a steady stream of new product. I guess another concern (probably something I shouldn't worry about considering HH's track record) is will the new product be the same as the Rittenhouse BIB we've all come to know and love?

I imagine the dirt cheap price is a thing of the past, and honestly at 16, 17, 18 even 20 dollars i'd still by it by the boatload.

I guess I was curious if it was time to hoard, and from the responses so far it looks like it is indeed. I use so much of this stuff it's insane.

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I've not read this entire thread so it's probably been mentioned along the way, but just in case: Wild Turkey 101 Rye is really quite good. I do like Rittenhouse BIB better, but if stocks are running low don't hesitate to bring in the Bird!


Cheers,

Mike

"The problem with the world is that everyone is a few drinks behind."

- Bogart

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Agreed: The Wild Turkey 101 is a swell product. But it's also inferior to, and $10 more than, the Rittenhouse BIB 100.

In mourning, having stopped at a few places this week that didn't carry the Rittenhouse or were out, I made a final Rittenhouse Red Hook.

We'll meet again, don't know where, don't know when....


Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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I have been getting into making Manhattans recently and have been drinking bourbon for a few years but had never tasted rye. Very little to choose from in our local stores. The other day I picked up a bottle of the Wild Turkey Rye and was pleasantly surprised at how good it was. I like it better than bourbon and it makes a great Manhattan.

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Agreed: The Wild Turkey 101 is a swell product. But it's also inferior to, and $10 more than, the Rittenhouse BIB 100.

Wow. I guess this is one of those areas where we can see drastic price difference between states. Here in Los Angeles, I've always found the two to be between $2-3 of each other. The Rittenhouse is usually cheaper than the Wild Turkey, but not always. That said, I'm out of Rittenhouse, and I can't find it anywhere.


"Martinis should always be stirred, not shaken, so that the molecules lie sensuously one on top of the other." - W. Somerset Maugham

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Around here, WT 80 is about $21-22, and WT 101 is $25-27. When it was available, I could find Rittenhouse for $15-17 bucks no problem.


Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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WT 101 rye is the only rye I have had.

I don't think I ever saw Rittenhouse in my normal liquor store, but I didn't always look hard. But they do also carry Jim Beam Rye, Old Overholt, and Sazerac. If I wanted to get something other than WT 101 rye, just to change things up, what would you all suggest?


Jeff Meeker, aka "jsmeeker"
jmeeker@eGullet.org

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Around here, WT 80 is about $21-22, and WT 101 is $25-27. When it was available, I could find Rittenhouse for $15-17 bucks no problem.

Here the spread is usually between $17-22. The Rittenhouse 80 is usually around $15, and Old Olverholt around $13-16.


"Martinis should always be stirred, not shaken, so that the molecules lie sensuously one on top of the other." - W. Somerset Maugham

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Agreed: The Wild Turkey 101 is a swell product. But it's also inferior to, and $10 more than, the Rittenhouse BIB 100.

In mourning, having stopped at a few places this week that didn't carry the Rittenhouse or were out, I made a final Rittenhouse Red Hook.

We'll meet again, don't know where, don't know when....

Yeah, no I don't agree.

I like both.

The Rittenhouse is beautiful in some applications and the Wild Turkey in others.

I suppose it kind of depends on my mood.

But anyway, to me, I kind of like the Rittenhouse in more civilized Manhattan type applications and the Wild Turkey in things like Sazeracs and Old-Fashioneds.

I really don't see why we should be without either one. Bastards.


---

Erik Ellestad

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

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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WT 101 rye is the only rye  I have had.

I don't think I ever saw Rittenhouse in my normal liquor store, but I didn't always look hard.    But they do also carry Jim Beam Rye, Old Overholt, and Sazerac.  If I wanted to get something other than WT 101 rye,  just to change things up, what would you all suggest?

Assuming that Spec's has everything that you can possibly get in Texas, I'd say you don't have a lot of options. I actually rather like Old Overholt and it's way cheap, but I feel that all the other ones are not good values. I only stock WT 101 and OO at home.

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WT 101 rye is the only rye  I have had.

I don't think I ever saw Rittenhouse in my normal liquor store, but I didn't always look hard.    But they do also carry Jim Beam Rye, Old Overholt, and Sazerac.   If I wanted to get something other than WT 101 rye,  just to change things up, what would you all suggest?

Assuming that Spec's has everything that you can possibly get in Texas, I'd say you don't have a lot of options. I actually rather like Old Overholt and it's way cheap, but I feel that all the other ones are not good values. I only stock WT 101 and OO at home.

Yes, Rittenhouse 80 and BIB are not distributed in Texas (the 23 yr is though). I had asked a bigshot for the distributor about it some time back and he indicated something along the lines of the production wasn't large enough to get to "smaller" markets (meaning smaller rye markets, you know Texans and their Crown Royal :wacko: ). I guess we now know how true that is.

That said, I stock WT Rye, which is about $20, and Sazerac 6, which is about $23 and I find them to be mostly useful in complementary situations (these are also what we carry at work). I have some Rittenhouse BIB a regular picked up for me in Chicago, and I guess it's all what you're used to but I didn't find it any better than the other two. I guess the slightly lower price is appealing, but I wasn't quite blown away by it the way I was expecting to be (that is no to say I didn't like it, I think it's wonderful, I just don't think it's significantly better than the other ones I mentioned). Old Overholt I find ok, and I usually have some around, but I don't drink it very much. Now if they made a bonded version maybe we'd talk. The other mixing-grade ryes I've tried (Jim Beam, Russel's Reserve, etc) are all ok to decent, but not as versatile in my opinion as the WT and Saz.


Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

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WT 101 rye is the only rye  I have had.

I don't think I ever saw Rittenhouse in my normal liquor store, but I didn't always look hard.    But they do also carry Jim Beam Rye, Old Overholt, and Sazerac.  If I wanted to get something other than WT 101 rye,  just to change things up, what would you all suggest?

Only in the interests of helping my on-line friend and the pursuit of knowledge, I just did a side-by-side straight sipping of the ryes I have on hand to see which one I'd pick. (yes, I'm a rye slut. I didn't include my Saz 18 YO which is a different animal entirely).

Jim Beam (80)

Pikesville (80)

Old Overholt (80)

Sazerac (90)

Rittenhouse (100)

Wild Turkey (101)

Remember, this was the straight rye, with just a sip of water between tastes. There was a clear winner and a clear loser. Winner = Pikesville. Nicely smooth, balanced and rounded. Loser = Old Overholt. Very grassy tasting. I'm not even sure how I'd use it in cocktails. Maybe a mint julep? Not surprisingly, the Rittenhouse and the WT were the "hottest", noticeably more alcoholic, and very good, but you have one and likely can't get the other.

Of the three options you have, I would go with the Jim Beam. Remember it's an 80 proof compared to a 101 though, but that's not a bad thing. However, if you have any friends in the Baltimore area who can send you some, Pikesville is the way to go. It's absurdly cheap too. I bought a 750 for $11, and a 1.75 for $18!!!

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Winner = Pikesville.  Nicely smooth, balanced and rounded.  Loser = Old Overholt.  Very grassy tasting.  I'm not even sure how I'd use it in cocktails.  Maybe a mint julep?  Not surprisingly, the Rittenhouse and the WT were the "hottest", noticeably more alcoholic, and very good, but you have one and likely can't get the other.

funny... i like Overholt over Beam by far. which might be odd as i think they're both made in the same distillery (Beam makes Overholt). i think the Beam is a bit boring and on the sweet side. i like the Overholt because of the spicy grassiness. i think it asserts itself in mixing better, too. so, as always, to each his own. they're all good products. of the three, i think i might like Saz the best, but it's 40% more expensive in these here parts.

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I agree. I think Old Overholt is a wonderful rye. I keep on hearing that they're going to come out with a new version of OOH, and I really hope it's simply a bump up to 100 proof (i.e., use the same old base spirit as always and just put less water in the bottle). If they did that, I'd probably go over to using OOH as my primary mixing rye over Rittenhouse. An interesting experiment is to try the low proof Rittenhouse versus Old Overholt (which comparison is won by OOH in my opinion). You can understand just how much is gained by the higher proof of Rittenhouse BIB.

It's worthy of note that there are two different styles of rye whiskey, Monongahela and Maryland -- Rittenhouse and Old Overholt being the former and Pikesville being the latter.


Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

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