Maker: Brown-Forester, Louisville, Kentucky, USA
Style: Kentucky style “barely legal” straight rye whiskey.
Proof: 100 (50% ABV)
Michigan state minimum: $25
Appearance: Medium copper.
Nose: Alcohol, tarragon, cut grass, catmint, lime jello.
Palate: Medium-bodied, dry and herbaceous. Peppermint, lavender, ghost pepper, alcohol.
Finish: Semi-sweet, woodruff, and a little sweetness. No oakiness at all.
Mixed: Did well everywhere: with ginger ale, in a Sazerac, in a Manhattan, a Monte Carlo, a Normandy Cooler and with a dash of akvavit.
Parting words: This is the first rye made at the Brown-Forman distillery in a very long time. Sort of. When Heaven Hill’s Bardstown distillery was destroyed by a fire in 1996, they contracted the production of their whiskey to other Kentucky distillers, including B-F. They produced the 1998 and 1999 vintages of Evan Williams Single Barrel and, most importantly for this review, they also took over production of Rittenhouse Rye. The Bottled-in-Bond became a cult favorite (look for DSP 354), and I would argue that its success helped kick off the current rye boom. There was a bit of mystery around it, though. Heaven Hill claimed that it was made from their recipe, but sources at Brown-Forman claimed that it was an old recipe that they had dug out of their files. Given the big difference between the current Rittenhouse and the old B-F distilled version, I tend to believe the second story.
When production of Rittenhouse moved to Heaven Hill’s new distillery in Louisville, there was no B-F made rye on the market until this year. Old Forester Rye is made with a recipe that is unusually high in malted barley. The result is a fruity, slightly spicy rye that is in the same vein as Old Forester bourbon. It mixes very well, is 100 proof and the price is right for a macro-distilled rye. Old Forester Rye is highly recommended.
For another perspective, check out Friend of the blog Gary’s review over at Whisk(e)y Apostle!