Rittenhouse Bonded Rye has many fans, at least that's my observation on the various social media sites I visit from time to time. So, at $22 a bottle, it only made sense that I try it out. Social media aside, though, a bonded-in-bond rye for that price is a worthwhile endeavor in any event. As with any other bonded whiskey, you know you're getting a certain level of quality, not to mention the higher 100 proof.
The first thing I noticed is that it has a burgundy hue to it (and I confirmed this when I poured it into the glass, thinking the label might have been playing a trick on me). When I opened the bottle, I was hit with a nose of cinnamon and red licorice, a nice combination of scents, making me salivate for that first taste.
Rittenhouse Rye drinks very easily. That was perhaps what I noticed most about this rye. Despite it being 100 proof, it has minimal burn and is a very inoffensive, easy-to-drink whiskey. That is due also in part to the very friendly palate. Most prominent was a cinnamon spice that I couldn't help but liken to Big Red chewing gum. It wasn't a strong spice, but nonetheless very noticeable.
It's also a sweeter rye, with a heavy molasses flavor, which is countered by a contrasting and tangy ginger flavor on the back end. It presented a more unique blend of flavors than what I've become accustomed to with ryes, but yet it remained relatively simple, lacking any real depth or complexity. This may be due in part to the watery texture of the rye, not leaving much flavor behind, but instead dissipating almost immediately after each swallow.
This was also one of those few instances where I actually liked it less after it was open for a bit. An artificial cherry flavor took hold, as if that red licorice flavor that I noticed on the nose when I first opened the bottle finally decided it was time to make its appearance. While I enjoyed it on the nose, it did not fit well with the other flavors, and it was one of those situations where once I noticed it there, I couldn't avoid noticing it every sip thereafter. It also didn't help that the sweetness that initially existed took a back seat, leaving only that artificial cherry flavor without the sweetness to go with.
I wouldn't categorize this as a great rye by any means. However, at this price, it's a very good value rye and well-worth what you'll pay.