Mike recommended that I conduct a blind tasting with Pennsylvania rye whiskeys versus Rittenhouse rye. Pennsylvania was the birthplace of American rye whiskey and one of the staples of a Pennsylvania rye is that it does not use corn in the mash bill. Rittenhouse Rye was originally a Pennsylvania style rye but after nearly going extinct the brand was picked up by Heaven Hill and is now made with corn.
I’ve tasted all three of these previously but not extensively. By reading over the labels, I was able to correctly pick each rye out. The Liberty Pole bottle I sampled was aged 18 months so the youth was slightly prevalent. It also packed the most rye flavor which may be due to less time to pick up other flavors from the barrel—maybe I’m just shooting in the dark with that assumption. However, it was very good for such a young whiskey.
Rittenhouse’s current mash bill is now more akin to a Kentucky rye. The corn gives it a more traditional bourbon caramel forwardness that I didn’t get with the other two. The rye is there but it’s not necessarily the start of the show. I do think Rittenhouse is a very good whiskey, especially for the price tag.
As for taste, Dad’s Hat won the day. I love Rye whiskey and this was a superior well-balanced flavor profile. When I enjoy rye I don’t really want a barely rye mash bill, I want to first and foremost taste rye then the nuances the barrel and other grains bring. Dad’s Hat delivered this with an immediate punch of rye bread, then hazelnut, cayenne spices and wonderful citrus notes. Pick this one up if you enjoy a good rye forward whiskey. It’s pretty widely available, and at $35-50 it won’t break the bank.
Photo Courtesy of Rebecca Hammer