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Joe Blowe

All About Rye Whiskey (Part 1)

498 posts in this topic

So wait, is Bonded Old Overholt no longer being produced? My local stores have quite a bit, so I'd consider grabbing a few bottles.

There never has been bonded Old Overholt. It's sold at 80 proof. We're saying that we'd like to see it at 100 proof ("bottled in bond"). And, as Andy points out, it's literally a matter of changing the labeling and reconfiguring the process to add less water (I'm sure there are also some minor legal hoops to jump through with respect to introducing a "new" product).

In my opinion, if they brought out Overholt at 100 proof, it would take the place of Rittenhouse as the mixing rye of preference. I've been thinking of ways to make a 100 proof version out of the 80 proof stuff, either by fractional freezing or using a rotavap.


Edited by slkinsey (log)

Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

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So wait, is Bonded Old Overholt no longer being produced? My local stores have quite a bit, so I'd consider grabbing a few bottles.

There never has been bonded Old Overholt. It's sold at 80 proof. We're saying that we'd like to see it at 100 proof ("bottled in bond"). And, as Andy points out, it's literally a matter of changing the labeling and reconfiguring the process to add less water (I'm sure there are also some minor legal hoops to jump through with respect to introducing a "new" product).

In my opinion, if they brought out Overholt at 100 proof, it would take the place of Rittenhouse as the mixing rye of preference. I've been thinking of ways to make a 100 proof version out of the 80 proof stuff, either by fractional freezing or using a rotavap.

My mistake, I just confused it for Rittenhouse. Oops!

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So wait, is Bonded Old Overholt no longer being produced? My local stores have quite a bit, so I'd consider grabbing a few bottles.

There never has been bonded Old Overholt. It's sold at 80 proof. We're saying that we'd like to see it at 100 proof ("bottled in bond"). And, as Andy points out, it's literally a matter of changing the labeling and reconfiguring the process to add less water (I'm sure there are also some minor legal hoops to jump through with respect to introducing a "new" product).

In my opinion, if they brought out Overholt at 100 proof, it would take the place of Rittenhouse as the mixing rye of preference. I've been thinking of ways to make a 100 proof version out of the 80 proof stuff, either by fractional freezing or using a rotavap.

Actually as far as I am aware, Overholt was sold as a Bonded product for much if not most of it's history (or at least the part of that history where distinctions like that existed). I'd be curious to know when the proof was lowered, but my hunch is that it correlates with the acquisition of the brand by Jim Beam. I know for sure I've seen a picture of a label somewhere that proudly states "100 Proof", "Bottled in Bond" or some similar legend.


Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

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So wait, is Bonded Old Overholt no longer being produced? My local stores have quite a bit, so I'd consider grabbing a few bottles.

There never has been bonded Old Overholt. It's sold at 80 proof. We're saying that we'd like to see it at 100 proof ("bottled in bond"). And, as Andy points out, it's literally a matter of changing the labeling and reconfiguring the process to add less water (I'm sure there are also some minor legal hoops to jump through with respect to introducing a "new" product).

In my opinion, if they brought out Overholt at 100 proof, it would take the place of Rittenhouse as the mixing rye of preference. I've been thinking of ways to make a 100 proof version out of the 80 proof stuff, either by fractional freezing or using a rotavap.

My mistake, I just confused it for Rittenhouse. Oops!

oldoverholt_ad.jpg

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"The taste of this whiskey will never change"

How depressing. Anyone have any idea when the proof was lowered?


Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

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Yep, according this article with tasting notes, at least as recently as 1940 they were bottling Old Overholt bonded and five years old.

Interesting history of Old Overholt and the Overholt family here.

Really, I just. don't. understand. why they wouldn't make a bonded version.


Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

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I'd like to see the makers of Bulleit Bourbon make a straight rye. The bourbon is already 30% rye, so doing a straight rye doesn't seem like it would that much of a departure for them. Even if bottled at 90 proof like the bourbon, I bet it would be a good product.


Mike

"The mixing of whiskey, bitters, and sugar represents a turning point, as decisive for American drinking habits as the discovery of three-point perspective was for Renaissance painting." -- William Grimes

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I know that many fellow Egullet members share my great interest in Rye Whiskey. I thought that some of you might be interested in this article from Malt Advocate Magazine, where they conducted a Rye Roundtable, and brought together every significant personality in the modern Rye distilling industry in one room to talk about the state if the rye business. The roundtable included such notables as Julian Van Winkle, Fritz Maytag, Jimmy Russell and many others.

Here's the link to this article. It's a google cache of the original as MA no longer has the article posted.

I hope that you enjoy the article.

Cheers,

Craig


During lunch with the Arab leader Ibn Saud, when he heard that the king’s religion forbade smoking and alcohol, Winston Churchill said: "I must point out that my rule of life prescribed as an absolutely sacred rite the smoking of cigars and also the drinking of alcohol before, after, and if need be during all meals and in the intervals between them." Ibn Saud relented and the lunch went on with both alcohol & cigars.

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Great article. I found the comment by Heaven Hill (the makers of Rittenhouse & Pikesville Ryes) interesting, that because of the great interest in Rye whiskey they had to double production of their rye's. They now distill rye two days per year. They literally spill more bourbon than they sell rye every year! I guess it is still a niche product in the grand scheme of things, even with all of the growth of and interest in rye these days.

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I'm currently on a quest to find the whiskey bars in the US with the largest rye selections.  At Seven Grand we now have 23 different bottlings, and  we are always looking for new ones.  What are some places with comparible numbers?  If i'm ever in a city that gets mentioned, I know where i'm heading after i get off the plane.

Clyde Common in Portland, OR has the biggest Rye list I've run into. Their web site menu only seems to list about 9, but in the bar they have a chalkboard with them all listed and I seem to remember more .... Sounds like I'll need to do some field research!

http://www.clydecommon.com/drinks.pdf

It was a bar tender there who first turned me on to Rye. We were asking about it, given their list, and he made us a small Manhattan with Bourbon, and a small one with Rye (Sazerac I believe). The Rye was a revelation and won hands down. I'd never liked Manhattans, but a 3: 1 Rye:Carpano Antica Manhattan with a dash or Regans orange bitters has won me over.

I found the Rittenhouse bonded at one liquor store in Portland, but found we prefer the Sazerac.

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I know that many fellow Egullet members share my great interest in Rye Whiskey. I thought that some of you might be interested in this article from Malt Advocate Magazine, where they conducted a Rye Roundtable, and brought together every significant personality in the modern Rye distilling industry in one room to talk about the state if the rye business. The roundtable included such notables as Julian Van Winkle,  Fritz Maytag, Jimmy Russell and many others.

Here's the link to this article. It's a google cache of the original as MA no longer has the article posted.

I hope that you enjoy the article.

Cheers,

Craig

That roundtable transcript was fascinating and eye-opening. It's good to know that those people are so in-tune to what's going on as far as what consumers are craving and what "the cocktail people" are doing. It will be interesting to see if any of them do anything to change the availability of rye.


Mike

"The mixing of whiskey, bitters, and sugar represents a turning point, as decisive for American drinking habits as the discovery of three-point perspective was for Renaissance painting." -- William Grimes

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I think the best we can hope for in the next few years is a regular supply of the bottlings that are out there right now. I really don't think we will see new expressions in the 8 to 15 year range for at least 5 years from now because current demand for great bottles like Sazerac 6yr and Rittenhouse 100. Fritz is right in the article. We need to learn to drink young Rye. At least for awhile. I hope someone follows the Old Pertrero 18th century spirit model. 2+ years at 124.1 proof. 100% malted rye is harder to do, but the age and proof aren't. If 1 or 2 kentucky distilleries put just a few days a year to a whiskey like this, we would be in good shape before too long.

And Jim Beam needs to change that stupid bottle out. Ri 1 is an insult to any one that loves the stuff. The whiskey is ok for sours and such, but the bottle is so stupid i don't even pick it up for beginners.

Of course, like everyone else who knows the whiskey, I think it should be discontinued and re-bottled at 100 proof(or even cask strength :) ) as 5+ yr Overholt or Jim Beam Rye.

I've been told that Ri 2 and Ri 3 will eventually come out. Its uncomfortable to think about.

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ri 1 has no finish

You nailed it right there. When I tasted it, it just seemed kind of flat, lifeless. Like striking a bell that's sitting on the ground. No resounding peal, just a dead thunk. I'd be hesitant to spend even $25 on the stuff. No way can I see paying the $40+ they're asking (and this from someone who happily buys Booker's bourbon for $46). Maybe the lack of finish is a moot point in if used in a cocktail (something more complicated than an Old Fashioned, that is), I don't know. Has anyone here mixed with this yet?

I think the best we can hope for in the next few years is a regular supply of the bottlings that are out there right now.

I'd be OK with that.

The vodka-style packaging combined with the elevated price seem to suggest that the whole marketing campaign of this product has been conducted as it if were vodka. Case in point: a new distillery recently opened in Pittsburgh called Boyd & Blair. They make potato vodka using locally grown potatoes; it's distilled in small batches; and the proprietors fill the bottles themselves. As vodka goes, it is very good--comparable with the best Polish vodkas. They wanted to price their product at around $20-$24, but the PA LCB said, "No, you'll sell more if it's priced at $29.95." It's been selling like gangbusters*. But then it actually is vodka. (ri)1 is not vodka. I doubt their strategy will work.

*I actually would like to see them succeed because they are a local company and they are the first distillery in Southwestern PA since the 1800s. They do have plans to eventually expand into making gin and whiskey.


Edited by brinza (log)

Mike

"The mixing of whiskey, bitters, and sugar represents a turning point, as decisive for American drinking habits as the discovery of three-point perspective was for Renaissance painting." -- William Grimes

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Rye is supposed to have spice and backbone both of which were completely lacking when I first tried R1. It's a husk of a rye wrapped in a pretty casket. How could a whiskey company treat rye like vodka with more emphasis on the packaging than the spirit within. Apparently they are doing a good job of it, in the little city of Tucson where you can't find a decent drop of rye behind any bar (other than my own,) I now find R1 popping up in some of the nicer downtown establishments. I ask if they have any other rye for my Manhattan, and the bartender looks at me like I'm crazy only to respond "this is one of the most premium Rye's on the market." I feel like saying,"have you ever tasted any other rye's?" I quickly understood that this question would have fallen on deaf ears when I asked for my Manhattan stirred and he poured both the whiskey and the vermouth straight into my glass and stirred the undiluted concoction with a sipping straw.

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I've mixed with it. Good spirits make good cocktails. Ri1 makes average ones because its an average spirit. Its still Rye. Its just quick finish, no complexity Rye. Sours with muddled berries work well because of the latent fruit, but I would never use it in a stirred drink.

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I quickly understood that this question would have fallen on deaf ears when I asked for my Manhattan stirred and he poured both the whiskey and the vermouth straight into my glass and stirred the undiluted concoction with a sipping straw.

i'd rather have it that way than how I am usually served manhattan's locally at a bar...shaken to death, watered down, cloudy messes....

so i often will ask for e'm just as you got it..and they'll even screw that up, like by again shaking it to death and pouring it in a collins glass over more ice...(well at least the last place threw in some angostura bitters)....ugh..

i'll still vote for Mitcher's (4 yo) and Sazerac

I havent seen R1 around connecticut yet, but i will sheild my eyes when i do

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I feel, perhaps, we are ourselves the victims of our own desires and/or expectations when it comes to the Ri1. I think we could all, for the most part, agree that Rye is among the more intimidating spirits in the cocktailian's cabinet for the uninitiated. Therefore, why do we seemingly find it surprising - and even dismaying - when a rye whiskey marketed toward cocktail newbies is largely devoid of those aspects of rye that we find so endearing - namely, the spice and character.

Especially considering Ri1 is a product that we freely admit seems marketed toward the 'trendy' vodka crowd, why are we surprised when it downplays the more rye-centric characteristics that we love? The bottle itself indicates that the product is to be the most "vodkaic" (if that can enter the lexicon) rye on the market. That the palate confirms this seems simply academic.

Of course, I lament alongside everyone else that Beam has decided to release Ri1 in lieu of a Bonded Overholt, and I certainly don't mean my comments to be a criticism towards anyone; I suppose I'm merely caught slightly incredulous by the seeming hub-bub surrounding the product's relative disappointment.

As a matter of reference, this post was prefaced by my own mixing of a Ri1 Manhattan (8:4:1) w/ Boissiere & Angostura, which seemed to highlight the softer characteristics of the vermouth & bitters -- something I imagine the non-classic cocktail crowd would treasure if venturing out to try such a beverage.

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I feel that Sazerac 6 is also fairly dull and lacks spice, yet I see it at a few medium-level cocktail bars.

Haven't had the Ri(1). How does it compare?

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Agreed, the Sazerac 6 isn't great but, compared to the R1, in my humble opinion is a step above. The Saz does lack spice though it definitely has that Rye backbone, and the price difference is a factor (and the bottle looks pretty nice on any bar alter.)

"Vodkaic"... that's great.

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I don't know if I would say that the Saz lacks spice, but that it has a different spice; more in a white pepper, nutmeg, nutty direction in contrast to the dark earthy spice of something like Wild Turkey. Sazerac also has wonderful fruity notes that are absent in most ryes that I've tasted, making it delightful to sip with a few chips of ice and also great for many cocktail applications where more finesse is desired. I can understand perhaps feeling ambivalent about Saz if you have a ready supply of Rittenhouse BIB but in places that don't its a nice tool in the arsenal.

That said, WT 101 is still my favorite (well, apart from Handy).


Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

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Handy is Saz 6yr at Cask Strength. The present bottling is a 5-6yr from what I'm told. While the barrels may be selected to provide for a spicier whiskey, the fruitiness of Saz 6yr still comes through. In my opinion its the proof that makes Handy the amazing product that it is. I wonder if Jeam Beam, Wild Turkey, Heaven Hill, Tutlletown, Kentucky Bourbon Distillers or Four Roses will add to the Cask Strength Rye Market. Thank you Buffalo Trace and Anchor Steam for Handy and the 18th Cen Spirit.

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Handy is Saz 6yr at Cask Strength.  The present bottling is a 5-6yr from what I'm told.  While the barrels may be selected to provide for a spicier whiskey, the fruitiness of Saz 6yr still comes through.  In my opinion its the proof that makes Handy the amazing product that it is.  I wonder if Jeam Beam, Wild Turkey, Heaven Hill, Tutlletown, Kentucky Bourbon Distillers or Four Roses will add to the Cask Strength Rye Market.  Thank you Buffalo Trace and Anchor Steam for Handy and the 18th Cen Spirit.

The one I have is the 2006 bottling, which I seem to remember anecdotally described as taken from casks between 10-14 years of age. It does clearly come from the same mashbill as the Saz 6 though, the character is unmistakeable.

Did the older releases of Handy come from different lots of different ages than the more recent ones?


Andy Arrington

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Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

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Did the older releases of Handy come from different lots of different ages than the more recent ones?

According to the press sheets that BT releases, the inaugural 2006 Handy was aged 8 years, 5 months, while both the 2007 and 2008 iterations were aged 6 years, 5 months.

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Did the older releases of Handy come from different lots of different ages than the more recent ones?

According to the press sheets that BT releases, the inaugural 2006 Handy was aged 8 years, 5 months, while both the 2007 and 2008 iterations were aged 6 years, 5 months.

Thanks for the info, I think I've had this question answered before but couldn't figure out where. :wacko:


Andy Arrington

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Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

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Yes, thank you. I must have been mixing up 6 yr 5 month for 5 to 6 years. Even at this somewhat young age, Handy is mind blowing.

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