Rittenhouse Square Straight Rye Whiskey was launched in 1934 as a two-year old rye whiskey by the Continental Distilling Corporation of Philadelphia. As the twenty-first amendment to the United States Constitution (the amendment which repealed prohibition) was passed in December of 1933, the illicit origins of this bottling are plain to see. Fast forward to 2017 and Rittenhouse Straight Rye 100 proof still wears its history proudly.
Following the Second World War, Rittenhouse dropped the 'Square' name, becoming just Rittenhouse Rye. The age was also upped from 2 years to four. Since this time, the bottling has remained 100 proof (50% ABV) and therefore can claim to 'bottled in bond'. A recent rebranding has brought the history of Rittenhouse Square back, but this time visually - with a new diamond bottle label which harks back to the original 1930's design. The mash bill is presently 51% Rye, 37% Corn and 12 % Malted Barley and you'll see it used in Manhattans and Old Fashioned cocktails just as much as you'll see it sipped neat.
Nose: A bit of a shy nose initially and certainly not as spicy as I’d expect from a rye whiskey. Grain is right up front with bananas, oaty breakfast cereals and a pleasant vanilla toffee. It's quite oaky and features both sharp wood polish and freshly tanned leathers.
Taste: Bananas come through strongly alongside pepper and cinnamon. Vanilla and a discernible char note add to dark cherries and deep cocoa in what could be an interesting Black Forest Gateaux. Solid rye-like flavours here.
Finish: Medium, woody and peppery.
Rittenhouse is a very solid straight rye whiskey that is equally at home in a cocktail as it is in a sipping glass. The rye flavours are a touch subdued compared to other bottles, which potentially positions this as a good entry point for bourbon/Scotch drinking looking to explore some rye spicing without having to dive straight into a hot spicy kick in the face. All the flavours are here, but are set to 8 rather than dialled all the way up to 11. It would be wrong to not mention price - this is great value too. All in all, recommended.
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