Friday, November 13, 2009

First Taste: Rittenhouse Rye 25 Year Old Single Barrel Whiskey

The release of the third and final bottling of Rittenhouse Very Rare Single Barrel Rye has arrived, following the release of the 21-year-old bottling in 2006 and the 23-year-old  in 2007 (reviewed here). The new 25-year-old expression is drawn from the final barrels of the same lot as the first two though questions about how it has benefited are almost irrelevant, as all bottles - even at $190 a bottle - will be scooped up instantly. About those bottles - there are only one thousand 3-bottle cases, a total of 3,000 bottles, to be shared between the US, the United Kingdom, France, Australia, New Zealand and Japan.  

So what do I think of the 100 proof, single barrel designated, non-chill filtered, straight rye? On the nose, there's maple syrup, dates, shellac, baking spices, old chair leather, some ashiness and a bit of a charred quality that I don't recall from the last bottling. On the palate, there are all of the above, plus some better defined spice notes of clove, cinnamon, nutmeg and even a bit of Red Hot candy, a brisk, drying finish at first and then, wham - some potency starts to show. There is a bit of woodiness starting to peek through as well, which makes me think somewhere between 23 and 25 years was the peak age for this rye. But it almost doesn't matter - is Payton Manning a better quarterback today than three years ago? Is the current Broadway production of "South Pacific" better than the last revival? Was this year's "Mad Men" better than last? Who cares? Buy this if you can find it. (Distributed by Heaven Hill)

My score: 9.5

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