About – Rittenhouse is a classic Pennsylvania style rye. Pennsylvania and Maryland were both hot beds for rye production in the early United States, and up until prohibition rye whiskey was the most popular alcohol in the U.S. Over the last few years rye has seen a resurgence in popularity, and Rittenhouse is among the brands at the forefront of the category. Rittenhouse Rye, produced currently by Heaven Hill, is bottled at 100 proof and is aged at least four years as indicated by it being bottled in bond.
Smell – The first thing that strikes me about Rittenhouse its light aroma, something rather untypical of a rye. Most prevalent are the scent of bananas and cereal grain. I am again surprised by the lack of rye spice on the nose.
Taste – Contrary to the nose this is not a weak whiskey in the flavor department. The first thing that jumps out is fruitiness defined by apricots and peaches, next is cinnamon, and baking spice on the backend.
Finish – A bit of the rye spice shines through here with that nice fruitiness lingering behind for a short to medium length finish.
Score – 90
Verdict – Rittenhouse Rye is not your typical rye. It is subdued, but not in a bad way. Even with a bit of an increase in price as of late you it is still around $25 and can be found on sale for $20 or slightly less. At it’s price point it is one of the best deals in today’s crazed American whiskey market. It is great on it’s own and is a favorite among bartenders as well as it makes an excellent cocktail. This is my house rye, and I always keep a bottle on hand. I would recommend the same for anyone with a home bar.
About – Old Weller Antique is a 107 proof wheated bourbon in the Weller line that is now produced by Buffalo Trace. As of the last few years Weller bourbons have taken off in popularity as part of the “Pappy” craze. The reason for this being that Old Weller Antique (no age statement but aged around seven years) is essentially a slightly younger version of Old Rip Van Winkle. The two share the same mashbill, warehouse, and proof. While it is getting harder to find Old Weller Antique can generally be found on the shelf and holds a price of $25-$30.
Smell – First whiff is of spiced orange, then a healthy amount of vanilla that gives the nose a nice holiday candy quality. With a bit of water or ice these aromas become even more apparent and are accompanied by jolt of cherry. A really remarkable smelling bourbon.
Taste – This bourbon greets you with a nice velvety mouth feel that is sweet and almost syrup like in the way that it coats the mouth. The spiced citrus from the nose makes another appearance on the back end.
Finish – Shorter than expected given the mouth feel, but still medium in length with a solid but not overwhelming punch of heat. The sweetness is still present with citrus and vanilla, but the finish is where the oak truly shines.
Score – 91
Verdict – A longer and more complex finish is really the only thing missing from this one to make it an elite bourbon. I haven’t had the pleasure yet of sampling the Van Winkle line, but being essentially an older more select barrel version of this, I can see where the hype comes from. At a price under $30 Old Weller Antique is a no brainer. Definitely one of the best values to be found in today’s bourbon market.