Whisky Advocate

Review: Rittenhouse Rye 25 year old

August 21st, 2009

Rittenhouse Rye, 25 year old*, (Barrel #1), 50%, $190
Surprisingly lively. Very much like the 21 year old release in this regard, but not as spicy on the nose or palate. Instead, it’s replaced by a layered, satisfying sweetness—not by wood, like the  somewhat lethargic, oak-dominated 23 year old release of RR. Older doesn’t mean that it tastes older. Deep, nutty toffee foundation, with nougat, candied tropical fruit, and shoo-fly pie (think molasses). The spices (cinnamon, spearmint, vanilla, cocoa powder) emerge mid-palate and linger, warming the finish. Not as vibrant as the 21 year old expression, but more sophisticated. I can’t speak for the other barrels in this lot, but I think this one is a great example of what a 20+ year old rye whiskey should taste like.

Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 96

Some additional thoughts:

I gave the 21 y/o a 92. I really liked it. The 23 y/o only got an 87, because of the extra oak. That was probably generous. Some of you might want more rye spice up front, but there are younger rye whiskeys to satisfy you in this regard.

There are 38 barrels of this whiskey–the last of what Heaven Hill has from the original 95, all distilled in 1984. 3,000 bottles will be shipped within the US, the United Kingdom, France, Australia, New Zealand and Japan.

All three releases have been single barrel releases. This is important. Take note of the barrel #. Mine is Barrel #1.


*This is a sample that’s 2 months premature. This whiskey doesn’t turn 25 until October. I don’t expect it to change in two months and will confirm when the whiskey is released formally. Look for it in November or December.

6 Responses to “Review: Rittenhouse Rye 25 year old”

  1. Dutch says:

    curious if you received my tweet, I asked if all 38 barrels left were going to be bottled, or were they saving some for later.

  2. Carl says:

    Interesting review, thanks! Barrel #1 is apparently a winner; how confident should we be that bottles from barrels 2-38 will be similarly good? I don’t have much experience comparing a given product from different single barrels.

    • John Hansell says:

      Carl, that’s a very good question. I tasted a vatting of three different casks informally a little while back, and that was very good too. But, I would have to think that, after 25 years of aging, there’s going to be diversity from one cask to another. And, at this age, my concern would be the whiskey getting too woody. The safe bet would be to track down Cask #1, and I have no idea where that one’s going.

  3. Oboe says:

    @John Hansell – have you tried the Willet 24 Y/O rye? and if so, how do you think the two compare? I’m not aware of too many older ryes on the market. At over 20, its just Black Maple Hill, Rittenhouse, Vintage & Willett correct?

  4. John M says:

    This is going to cost me money. I need to buy this whiskey somehow. I bet it will cost a fortune this side of the pond.

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