Pikesville 6 Yr Rye 110 Proof
Pikesville Straight Rye Whiskey
6 Years Old
Heaven Hill Distilleries
I reviewed Rittenhouse Rye last year, and in that review I pondered why a big, savvy company like Heaven Hill hadn’t expanded their rye portfolio beyond the underwhelming 3 year old Pikesville and the very solid Rittenhouse. After all, rye appreciation was clearly on the rise. Well, looks like they were just waiting on some barrels to come of age. These things do take the time they take after all. I predict we will see more and more rye whiskey releases in the next couple of years, and I say bring ’em on.
Anyway, everyone knows how much I love Rittenhouse Rye. At my house, it doesn’t live on the whiskey shelf (which is starting to overflow…), it lives in our kitchen cabinet–it’s a “pantry item.” I’ve literally written it on the grocery list before. My girlfriend uses it for Manhattans, I drink it straight mostly, or occasionally I’ll make my version of an Old Pal with it. It’s just the best bang-for-your-buck rye available in my opinion. So when I heard that Heaven Hill was releasing what is basically a six year old, 110 proof version of Rittenhouse (which is about four years old and 100 proof), I said, “sign me up!” Then the price tag gave me pause. MSRP is $49.99, but so far the cheapest I’ve seen it is $51.99, and one bottle I bought was $55.99. So more than double the normal price of Rittenhouse for just two more years in a barrel, plus an extra ten proof. Is it worth it? Let’s dive in.
The nose on this one is great, and I definitely can tell it’s akin to Rittenhouse. Heaven Hill’s rye is so much different than most of the ryes I’ve tried, it’s completely lacking that dill that LDI ryes and many Canadian ryes have (and that I love), and it’s just so much less grain-forward, less herbaceous and grassy. The mash bill they use for Pikesville and Rittenhouse is a classic “barely legal” rye mash: 51% rye, 39% corn, 10% malted barley. I am a huge fan of 95% and even 100% ryes, but a barely legal rye allows for some nice balance that works well with some whiskeys. The sweetness from the corn can turn a young rye from overly spicy and medicinal to perfectly delicious. Anyway, notes on the Pikesville 6 year nose…I’m getting milk chocolate, very creamy like a cup of hot chocolate, buttered corn, candied almonds, clove and cinnamon. Yum.
Palate is aggressive with flavor and heat, though no more heat than Rittenhouse BIB. I get honey, cacao nibs, vanilla, charred oak, and big rye spice. Slight mint, but not nearly as much as many younger ryes can have. Finish is dry cocoa powder, long, and spicy.
This is definitely a step up from Rittenhouse, though maybe not enough of a step to warrant the price point, depending on your financial situation. I am glad I have a couple of bottles of this, and I’ll be drinking the hell out of them over the next couple months. But for my pantry, I’ll stick with the Ritt.
Rating: 9.1 / 10
Bought in Georgia for $55.99.