Rittenhouse Rye Whiskey Review

Rittenhouse Rye Whiskey, 50% abv (100 Proof), $21

Rye Whiskey has been hotter than a $2 pistol these days. The independent bottlers and craft distillers had their ears perked up and their finger on the pulse of where things were going. Because of that, these little guys were able to take advantage of this Rye Whiskey surge. Well, I imagine it didn’t take long for some of the big boys to ramp up production of their Rye products. And that’s a great thing, because when that happens, we are able to find true gems like this one on the shelf. It’s not a new whiskey, just one that had been tough to find for a while. I hope that is changing. Rittenhouse Rye Whiskey is made by the folks at Heaven Hill.

Color: Dark Amber/Copper
Nose: Dusty cocoa, rye, flint, and wood spices mix beautifully with vanilla infused caramel and toffee.
Flavor: Wow what a sipper – rich and intense. Dark Chocolate, Rye, Clove, with sticky caramel and well integrated oak. Marvelous stuff.
Finish: Long with cocoa, licorice, and lingering spices.
Overall: This might be the best whiskey in the world around $20.00. It’s just that good. Spice, sweetness, and a deep, dark rich quality that blew my mind. It’s always great when you find a whiskey that brings this much flavor at such a great price. I’m not sure how Heaven Hill does it but this one gets “Cabinet Staple” status from me.

Sour Mash Manifesto Rating: 9.3 (Outstanding/Superb)


  1. Lazer says:

    WOW!!!! I’m speachless.

    I have a bottle of this but I didn’t open it yet. I’m currently halfway down a bottle of of Old Grand Dad 114 which is great, but has a lot of heat in the spice, like chili peppers (when I add enough water the heat goes away and it tastes a lot like a Basil Hayden’s). Since OGD114 is a bourbon with a lot of rye I figured a straight rye whisky would also be very hot and spicy, so I thought I would wait for the cold weather to open this one. But you didn’t mention any spicy heat, I think I’m putting this one on deck.

    Thanks for the great review!

  2. Lazer, I think folks sometimes imagine all rye’s to be like these chili/spice bombs. The reality is that it’s not always that way. Some can take an almost herbal spiciness to them vs. heat. High West Double Rye for example has some lurking heat, but it’s really greener spices that prevail. I do not consider Rittenhouse “hot” in the least. Great rye flavors, some wood spices (cinnamon, clove, etc), but certainly not hot to my palate. I say crack that puppy and get to sipping it. ; )


  3. Andy E says:

    I really want to try this. Unfortunately it is not very easy to find around here. The one place I’ve seen it, it is $32. But I’ll keep looking and will certainly give this a shot, hopefully soon.

  4. Texas says:

    I have to go to downtown Houston to get this one…and even then they are frequently out of it. Neighborhood stores don’t carry it. I sure need to try this, though.

  5. Hi Jason,

    I’m 100% with you on this one! Its a terrific dram and especially at such a price. Most great rye’s are pretty expensive, but at 21 dollars… Its still 25 euros here, but that’s still a bargain.

    Loved the descriptions!

  6. Alan says:

    Been waiting to try a rye…looks like you talked me into this one Jason. Will be my next purchase. Can’t wait to give it a try. Great review. (don’t take this the wrong way…just a note on your video…try adding a little soft, indirect lighting from the front…will make a world of difference)
    Keep the reviews coming…great info.

  7. Alan, I appreciate the suggestion and I do not take it the wrong way. Thanks! And yes this one is worthy of a try for sure.

  8. Sjoerd, thanks for the comment!

    Texas and Andy E – It’s not very easy to find right now, but I was in Chicago and they had a boatload of it. Hopefully we will begin seeing it more and more.

  9. MW says:

    So glad to see/hear this review…I’ve been getting in to rye lately. I started w/the Bulleit (good – nothing too exciting) but it got me started on this rye thing. So next I tried Russell’s Reserve 6yo – much more interesting & now I’m on the lookout for more rye. Sazerac NAS will be next AFTER I get my hands on this Rittenhouse – I recall seeing it at one of my fave local liquor stores.

  10. MAL says:

    Not available in my home state of Michigan, but I picked up a couple of bottles a few months ago at Vine and Table in Indy. I lucked out as they just got some in the day I was there and had not even put it on the shelf yet. Good thing I asked for it. Totally agree with your rating, this is great stuff. I read somewhere that HH will not make more or increase the price. Now that you’ve let the cat out of the bag its really gonna be hard to come by. lol

  11. eyoung67 says:

    This is a fabulous rye…much more depth than the bulliet or at Russells reserve.

  12. Josh Scott says:

    Love the Rittenhouse, and that’s saying a lot from a non Heaven Hill fan (exception would be the PHC of course). ๐Ÿ˜€ It’s a great spicy, sweet monster! nd for the price, it can’t be beat.

    However, money aside, I’d still go for the Whistlepig every time. Simply phenomenal.

  13. Josh Scott says:

    Also, everyone needs to check out Templeton’s, Redemption, and High West Ryes. Each one has a unique character that everyone can appreciate.

    Drink your Ryes!

  14. Josh Scott says:

    And for all you bargain shoppers out there looking for GREAT whisk(e)y at a great price, in my humble opinion, the Ardmore Traditional Cask on the Scotch front at $27 a bottle is an absolute gem.

  15. AaronWF says:

    Careful! Don’t want to let the word spread too far! Remember last year when W.L. Weller 12 was $22? Doesn’t it seem odd that a $20 bottle would be so sparingly allocated? Never fear; it’ll be much easier to expect only rare sightings of Ritt BiB when it’s a bargain at $35…

    At $12.99, Very Old Barton BiB might take the cake for best value, but the Rittenhouse Rye ups the ante with a bit of the exotic it offers. I’m also really impressed with the spice I’m finding in Old Grand-Dad BiB: another whiskey in the $20 price range.

    One thing I find myself questioning with these whiskeys – when I look into a liquor cabinet full of Pappys, Wellers, High Wests, Staggs, single barrel, older, more refined bottlings occupying the upper ranges of American whiskey costs, when do I find the time to drink the fabulous bargains? If I’m going to have one or two drinks in an evening, I want to reach for the higher-end bottles if I have them. If the night turns into three, four, five, six drinks, I’ll stack the bargain whiskeys towards the back end so that if (when) my palate loses its focus, at least I’m not missing the subtleties of more expensive products.

    I feel bad for relegating bargain bottles to a tired palate when they offer so much flavor to enjoy. Would I be as interested in reading so much about whiskey if I couldn’t afford to spend $60 on a bottle? All I know is that when my whiskey budget plummets but my thirst remains, although it was an initial interest in the finer, more aged whiskeys that drove me to your site, Jason, and sites like yours, it’s the knowledge of gems like Rittenhouse, VOB and OGD that will be the real reward for all this whiskey hobbying.

  16. MW, I enjoy Russell’s Reserve Rye also – great stuff. I’ll get to that one soon enough.

    MAL and eyoung67, thanks so much for the comment!

    Josh, I love the Whistlepig also – great stuff, and the High West Rendezvous and Double Rye are great, but man there’s something wonderful about a $20-ish dollar whiskey that is fabulous.

    AaronWF, I love many of the higher end bottlings, but at the end the day I feel like American Whiskey is a “for the people” product still. It’s getting away from that a little though, so when you find something this great at this price it’s worth celebrating. I’d put this with any Rye whiskey made today and it would hold it’s own all the way. But you give me a good idea that Sku and Greg over at bourbondork would appreciate. I should do a blind of all these high end ryes. That would be fun.

  17. Good good stuff, great great value. Makes a wonderful Manhattan. And, alas, not often found on the shelf.

  18. Franco C. says:

    I agree Rittenhouse is an awesome buy. Pretty stable in it’s availability here in Chicago. Most of the time I take my whisky neat, but this spicy monster does need a tablespoon of water. Lacks the herbal notes of other rye whiskey, but Some Like It Hot!!!!

  19. JDW says:


    This really is a fabulous rye. Glad you reviewed it here as I think it really is one of the outstanding whiskies at any price. The Rittenhouse 23 year and Van Winkle Rye are definitely worth a sip, too, if you can find them locally. We are so lucky to have so many great ryes on the market.



  20. Chris Middleton says:

    Rittenhouse rye is indeed one of the world’s great whiskeys. Back in the late 19th century rye was the most popular whiskey in the world and it was all consumed domestically in the US. Americans were drinking more rye then, than they drink whiskey today, including Scotch, Canadian and Bourbon.
    Gas chromatography has revealed rye whiskey has more flavor complexity than bourbon or malt whiskey making it probably the most flavorsome spirit in the world. As the rye product category resurges its future looks very exciting.
    Rittenhouse at $21 is truly expectional value. Limited cases are shipped to Australia and sold here at $110 a bottle. Still worth the price.

  21. Chris, that’s fascinating ifnormation. Rye is a special contribution to the world of whiskey. Thanks for the comment and info!

  22. sam k says:

    Can’t get it here in PA anymore, though a year and a half ago I special ordered a case for less than $144, not even $12 a bottle! Gave it away for Christmas presents and drank what was left. All gone.

    Now it’s over $20 elsewhere, but as has been said, still a great deal considering what others are getting. I congratulated Craig Beam at WhiskyFest Chicago for their efforts in keeping great American whiskey affordable.

    Glad to see rye returning, though it remains a blip on the whiskey radar screen. We came awfully close to losing it altogether twenty or so years ago. It will also be returning to its native state of Pennsylvania later this year. Stay tuned!

  23. Greg says:

    This is one of the value whiskey’s that on its own is better than average. To me there has been some quality variations over the years but overall, it’s still good neat or as a mixer. The Rittenhouse along with Pikesville uses the old Maryland Rye recipe.

  24. sam k says:

    Actually Greg, Rittenhouse is an old Pennsylvania brand from Philadelphia, and Heaven Hill makes note of that heritage on the back label of the current package (or at least they used to).

    I don’t know if the two (which are the same recipe) use the MD or PA influence more. Are you convinced it’s the MD version?

  25. sam k says:

    Speaking of which, I have no idea what made Maryland rye different from Pennsylvania rye. I do know that before Prohibition, PA rye, specifically the vaunted Monongahela, used no corn, having simply a high percentage (80-90) of rye along with barley malt. That changed after Prohibition, adding corn as a small grain in deference to the rising popularity of bourbon.

    What was different about the MD version? Anyone? Bueller?

  26. Sam and Greg, interesting discussion. What are some other Ryes that might follow these recipes/influences that you can tell us about?

  27. sam k says:

    Well, there’s little historical lineage hanging around anymore, Jason, but Sam Thompson, which may be the last documented PA-produced rye whiskey, had a rye content of right around 60%, as reported by Dick Stoll at Michter’s.

  28. Greg says:

    Sam – My bad…for some reason I had MD on the brain. There have been MD rye’s in the past as well as PA. My favorite rye of all time is Mt. Vernon. I guess the point I was making is that the Ritt and Pikes use a different recipe. What more interesting is that the Rittenhouse is Brown Forman (354) even though it’s a HH label.

  29. Dave says:

    I picked up some of this two days ago for $15.80 and cracked it last night. One word. WOW. Thanks for the tip, Jason. This is incredible.

  30. JWC says:

    $15.80? WOW. Lucky you. At that price, I’d buy a couple of cases and store them for future consumption.

    I put this up there with WT 101 and Weller 12 as the great whiskies at a fantastic price category. With these whiskies, you essentially cover all the major American whiskies.

  31. Texas says:

    There is no doubt about it now. I can open the pocketbook for a purchase weekend after this coming one..it’s going to have to be Rittenhouse I think.

  32. sku says:

    Greg, what’s your basis for saying Ritt and Pike are using a different recipe? I assumed since they were both HH ryes they both come out of the same mashbill (despite the claim that Pikes is MD style and Ritt is PA style).

  33. sam k says:

    Greg, I concur that B-F does some distilling for HH. Could that explain a potential difference in mashbill for the Rittenhouse?

    But…Craig Beam was quite open with me about their various releases of Rittenhouse, saying they all had the same mashbill; only the age differed. This would likely indicate one rye mash only for the company as a whole. Would B-F have made ALL the Rittenhouse for as long back as 20 some years while HH made Pikesville to a different recipe?

    Pikesville is such a minor player in a minor niche, I’d be surprised if there was any difference. My dad worked for an old-line regional brewery years ago that had four brands in its stable. All of them were the same beer with different labels. Just playing devil’s advocate here.

  34. Sam, Greg, and Sku, I was under the same impression that Heaven Hill had but one Rye Mashbill.

    Texas, let me konw what you think!

    JWC, I agree, all 3 are great whiskeys first and foremost and clearly “value” personified.

    Dave, WOW – what a price.

  35. Ethan Smith says:

    I have bottles of Pikesville and Rittenhouse BIB currently. The Pikesville is 3yo and 80pf and the Rittenhouse is 100pf with no age statement. The difference is HUGE, but both are fantastic whiskies. The Pikesville shows its youth. More grain flavor and less depth. It’s still absolutely wonderful though. The rye really comes on strong, but it’s not bitter or overbearing. The 80 proof mellows it out to a perfect afternoon sipper. The Rittenhouse on the other hand is deep, smoky, and complex. There’s more barrel flavor and the grain is subdued. Instead of the smoothness coming from a lower proof, it seems this one comes from the aging. Both Rittenhouse and Pikesville rank in my top 10 favorites- Rittenhouse being my favorite rye and second favorite whiskey old to Old Grand Dad BIB. I’m eagerly awaiting the Bernheim-produced Rittenhouse to see if there is any flavor difference from the Brown-Forman product we have now.

  36. Alan says:

    Picked up a bottle yesterday. Cracked it last night after dinner. I’m new to the world of rye…WOW! I don’t think there’s any reason to hunt for another one. Great whiskey Jason, and a great price. I paid $22. Thanks for the recommendation and all the great comments from my fellow indulgers out there!

  37. BrownMichelle says:

    Yeah, buddy! Just picked this up at BevMo this week based on your review. Embarrassing to say, but I didn’t realize that rye was the reason I prefer Wild Turkey 101 over other bourbons. Now I want to work my way through the different ryes on the market. This one is soooo good.

  38. Michelle, glad to hear you liked it!

  39. Texas says:

    Got the Rittenhouse and a Scotch as an early Father’s Day present. I really like the chocolate notes with the Rittenhouse. Totally unlike any other rye I have had. I am not sure I like it better than Wild Turkey Rye or Russell’s Reserve Rye, or Bulleit Rye, but it is so different than those it’s hard to compare. One thing is for sure, I really like it.

  40. Bobbie says:

    I have a full bottle of Sam Thompson Pennsylvania Straight Rye Whiskey with the tax seal still on. Can anybody tell me about it? It just sits around collecting dust.

  41. Joe Serapilio says:

    Jason,Enjoying my first few sips of this stuff.WOW this stuff is HUGE!Chocolate,toffee,spice.It’s all there.One of the best whiskeys I’ve had.Picked it up for $19.00 here in upstate N.Y.Got three bottles.Joe

  42. JOe, that’s an INCREDIBLE price on Rittenhouse. Well done!

  43. Danny says:

    Love it!
    Have to say it’s currently my favourite Whisky. It’s $37 here and at that, one of the cheapest Ryes available. I’m waiting on a Pikesville as well to compare but at the moment this, for me, is head and shoulders above anything else on my shelf. I just wish it was available locally!

  44. davidj says:

    this stuff is incredible. I just found some recently in boston, and it’s a steal at $23 a bottle. What a sleeper! I enjoy rye quite a bit, and this stuff is beautiful.

    thanks for the review – I had no idea this was out there.

  45. DavidJ – welcome to the Rittenhouse Rye fan club. I agree – it’s just superb stuff.

  46. BMc says:

    Hi Jason, did you do your tasting notes from a newly opened bottle? I opened a bottle yesterday and found the whiskey to be thin, watery, and pretty much unremarkable. I got a little bit of cherry and what tastes to me like moldy corn as the only tasting notes. I’ve read (from reviews on BourbonEnthusiast) that there can be a lot of bottle-to-bottle variation. I hope I didn’t buy a bad bottle, so I’m holding out that maybe a little exposure to air might set it straight.

  47. BMc, I never review the first pour from a bottle. I’ve mentioned this before but I liken it to a “bull in a china shop”. That said, it’s certainly not out of the realm of possibilities the bottle is compromised. I have had 3 bottles in the last 12 months – each of which has been as remarkable as the first. Do you notice an off-ish smell at all?

  48. BMc says:

    I’m happy to report that it’s firming up a lot! I think it could use a bit more time in the bottle, but the rye notes are a lot more prevalent and I look forward to how it will taste on New Year’s Eve.

    By the way, I am a proud product of BGA and Brentwood High, and I used to live off Moore’s Lane across from the Galleria. You can’t beat Middle Tennessee for friendliness ๐Ÿ™‚

    Anyway, to all a Happy New Year!

  49. BMc – good to hear and glad to meet a fellow (former) Middle Tennessean. Cheers!

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