Jack Rose Part 2: Old Heaven Hill Wheater & Old Bernheim

Kentucky Crest 10yr 1950s bottling by Bernheim 103 proof
Golden color, with charcoal bits; I love charcoal bits. Classic bourbon nose, with some dried apricot fruit as well.  A touch hotter than expected but really nice. Mouthfeel is average and finish is moderate. Really nice but not one you need to mortgage the house for.  As the night went on, the aroma got better and better with vanilla and baking spices really coming through. 92/100

Old Fitzgerald 1849 Heaven Hill 1990s juice
Dull straw yellow coloring. Classic wheater nose, sweet and bready.  Easy down, no heat, enjoyable but not overly complex. Not sure what the hype is on these bottles. As the night continued the aroma stayed the same and did not improve.  88/100

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Pikesville Rye #2 of the Year?

Although I was flummoxed by the Jim Murray #1 whiskey of the year, I decided not to be deterred and go on to try the number two. Spoiler alert: I’m glad I did.

Just a little background… This is a Heaven Hill product, with a reported mash bill of 51% rye / 39% corn / 10% malted barley. It is 55% abv and is reported to be aged “at least 6 years.”  Online I’ve read that it has the same mash bill as Rittenhouse BIB, but with higher proof and more aging. I reviewed the Rittenhouse positively a few months ago and was appreciative of its good value.  There is a whole Maryland backstory, but the production has been moved to Kentucky like most brands.

Nice golden amber color in the glass, and a smart looking bottle with a cool cork design on top.

Another sweet candy rye, but instead of rock candy like the Crown Rye, this one has more texture and complexity on the nose. I’m also getting freshly toasted cornbread on cast iron with heaps of churned butter, cinnamon, all spice and cracked white pepper corns.

Unbelievably easy to drink and almost impossible to believe that it is 110 proof.  No water needed here. There is a very nice mouthfeel, good balance and the finish is very long bringing out the spiciness in the sides of the cheeks.

Jim Murray must have mixed up his top ten or something. The Pikesville shouldn’t be top three either, but it certainly is far more deserving than the Crown, even if it is double the cost (you used to get it for $50, but now it seems to go for $60).  The finish on the rye is really what separates it from its peers and earns it an extra point. 93/100

 

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Rittenhouse Straight Rye Whiskey: Solid for the price, not as good as Sazerac

Rittenhouse Straight Rye Whiskey is one of the brands currently made by Heaven Hill Distilleries in Bardstown, KY. It is “a storied Pennsylvania style rye whose heritage commemorates Philadelphia’s famous Rittenhouse Square.”  It is Bottled-In-Bond meaning it has several governmental protections as well as 100 proof.

I did some family research and it turns out that my great, great grandfather owned a distillery and operated in Philadelphia… other parts of the family lived in and around Rittenhouse Square… Evidently they had a decent operation until Prohibition, and when they applied for a medicinal license, they were denied and the company, brand and the whiskey all went down the tubes… Not sure why it took my family 34 years to tell me this amazing history, but needless to say, I wanted to channel that familial spirit through this spirit…  Perhaps I should look into reviving the brand?

Medium Amber color.

Spicy and heated nose with fresh cinnamon bread, ginger snaps, whole black peppercorns and almond butter.

Palate reflects the spicy notes and also has decent hear with some oily wood tannins. The mouthfeel is very enjoyable and the finish is medium. Enjoyable rye.

If you can find this bottle under $25 it’s a strong bargain and worth adding to your whiskey cabinet. I have a preference for Sazarac but this is very solid for the price.  Unfortunately the spirits of my family distillery was not summoned during my tasting experience on this one, but it still was a good drink.  87/100.

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