Rittenhouse straight rye 100 proof (50% ABV)
Star rating: 5/5
Rittenhouse is one of a number of brands being churned out of the Heaven Hill distillery. This Bardstown-based operation has been a family affair since its founding back in 1935.
Back in December 1933, America repealed their prohibition act. Hallelujah! Booze was back and booming, there was a massive appetite for properly distilled spirits in the wake of years of suffering through overpriced moonshine in speakeasies.
Ed Shapira, along with his brothers, invested in a distillery in Bardstown, later owning the business outright.
The family released Old Heaven Hill Bottled-in-Bond and it quickly became the best selling bourbon in the State of Kentucky. Funnily enough, the first master distiller at Heaven Hill was Joseph Beam, first cousin of the famous Jim Beam.
The second generation of the Shapira whiskey family are currently at the helm and a third generation are in position to take the helm when the time comes, ensuring that the recipe for success is passed down and it is an incredibly successful recipe at that – Heaven Hill is the largest independent, family owned and operated spirit distiller in the USA.
This is not to say that things have always been rosy for the business. In 1996 a warehouse fire saw 90,000 barrels of bourbon set alight – the company leant on nearby Jim Beam and Brown-Forman for production until the 1999 purchase of a facility in Louisville.
Rittenhouse is distinctively Pensylvannian in style, clocking in with a mashbill of 65% rye, 23% corn and 22% malted barley.
This whiskey bears the label ‘bottled-in-bond’ which means that it has been distilled in one distillery, in one distilling season, aged in a federally bonded facility for four years and bottled at 100 proof. Try saying that after a shot of bottled-in-bond whiskey.
This designation essentially arose in order to protect consumers from moonshine and is seen as America’s first consumer protection law.
This particular Rittenhouse expression is inviting from your first nosing, drawing you in with oiled up walnut and banana, cinnamon and butterscotch, with a sprinkling of baking spices.
The palate brings in dark chocolate orange to play alongside vanilla and ginger, tied up in an oily leather bow. The finish is long, dry and full of citrus fruits.
The perfect pour
This whiskey is just begging to be thrown into a manhattan, the higher than average proof and tangy citrus flavours make perfect partners for a sweet vermouth, we’d recommend Quady Vya to marry the orange flavours.
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This review was last updated in June 2020. If you have any questions, suggestions for future reviews or spot anything that has changed in price or availability please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.