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Rittenhouse Straight Rye 100 proof is described as a Pennsylvania style rye whisky. My bottle is also tagged with the designation "Bottled in Bond" which means the production of the whisky underwent certain supervision by the U.S. Federal government.
My understanding is that this whisky is difficult to locate on the West Coast of the United States and availability on the East Coast is also spotty. I am not sure if it is widely available elsewhere. Given that I live in Virginia which is only one state away from the main production center of U.S. whisky (Kentucky) I would expect availability to be better in Virginia but in the state run liquor stores this product is not sold. It is widely available in Maryland and Washington, D.C. though, fortunately just a few miles away from my home in Virginia.
I have tried several ryes a few times and currently also have bottles of two other reasonably priced (around $US 20) ryes: Sazerac 6 year old and Pikesville. The Rittenhouse is by far and away my favorite. Jim Murray ranks this very highly as well.
I am sometimes over eager to try something after pouring. This whisky definitely benefits from sitting in the glass for a few minutes although I did not find that it benefits from water. The taste and nose literally evolve over 10 minutes or so. After sitting for a few minutes the nose has light nutty (pistachio) nougat, chocolate, and light fruit aromas. At times I also detected a meaty smell but I think this may be that I have eaten so many rye sandwiches that I instinctively associate rye smell with lunch meat.
Taste wise there is also a slight nutty taste, a definite pepper kick together with some chocolate and oaky notes. The finish is medium.
This big rye warms you from the inside out and I highly recommend it. Even though there are lots more ryes I also want to try, I think this will always have a spot in my cabinet.