Saturday, July 16, 2011

(Review) Rittenhouse Straight Rye, Bottled in Bond, 100 proof

Mystique: 1-10 points
Score: 10 Heard of it, reviews claim all other Rye's are measured against it

Color: 1-10 points
Score: 9 Beautiful, Dark, Garnet, Jewel like

Scent: 1-10 points
Score: 9 vanilla, oak, caramel, butterscotch? Rye bread

Initial impression: 1-10 points
Score: 9 looks good, smells great

Mouthfeel: 1-10 points
Score: 7 good, coats the mouth, stays on the tongue, feels thick

Taste: 1-10 x 4 points
Score: 32 caramel, slow burn, complete, with ice opened up beautifully burn
gone just peppery, a little sweet, smooth.

Raw Score: 76 points

Bonus: Value 1-10 points
Score: 9 great price point 23.95 a fifth

Total Score: 85 points

So they tell me this is the THE STUFF! It's one of the oldest Rye whiskies bottled and most reviewers use it to measure all new Rye's they try. It's a benchmark if you will. I think most of these reviewers are bourbon and scotch drinkers and that's why this Rye seems magic in a bottle to them. You can't blame them it's very good. Rye isn't that popular and it's very hard to find in some areas. This one in particular is difficult to find even in this area where Rye never truly went away. This is actually the first bottle of it I had ever seen and I was eager to try it. So what's all the fuss about? Flavor. It's got burn, it's complex and it's peppery. 3 things you don't necessarily get in bourbon or scotch. These reviewers seem in awe of it because they are very used to having a flat tasting bourbon or scotch at this price point. I don't know if it's the marketing machine or the fact that there are so many bourbons and scotch's out there, but to get a good one you usually have to spend a decent amount of money. Maybe they're snobs and they don't think anything inexpensive can taste good. If you think that way too you'd be very wrong.

Rittenhouse Rye is the taste standard for Pennsylvania style rye whiskey. Oh wait do I sound like one of those other reviewers? No. What do I mean? Hey what's Pennsylvania Rye Whiskey supposed to taste like? Here, taste this (hands you a glass), that. That is what it's supposed to taste like. It can be better or worse, but that's generally what you are supposed to get. It's the nature of Rye that it tastes so different from bourbon and scotch. It inherently has more flavors going on and it's not always going to taste as complete or smooth. I guarantee you will not like this whiskey if you drink it neat, very soon after you pour a glass. It's burny, it's got too much muddled mish mash of flavor going on. You might equate it to a Michael Bay action sequence. POW! BANG! jump cut, EXPLOSION! Holy shit! This stuff is awful. Exciting, but awful. Let's try this again. Pour it on the rocks, or add a little water. Let it sit a minute or two, now try it. Eh? what did I tell you. The profile completely changes. It's smoother, the burn is almost gone, there's flavors you can pick out. Pepper, spices, caramel, sugary, vanilla, fruit and it got smooth. What's going on here? I was watching Transformers and you switched it to Blade Runner. That's the nature of Rye whiskey.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

(Review) Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey

Mystique: 1-10 points
Score: 8 - Totally new, totally unexpected. I hadn't seen any sort of advertising
and had read no reviews before finding this at the store. Label is
definitely Jack Daniels, but a different color and gold text sets it apart.

Color: 1-10 points
Score: 7 - Light, warm, looks like honey.

Scent: 1-10 points
Score: 6 - Sweet, possibly overmuch. Definitely smells of honey.

Initial Impression: 1-10 points
Score: 7 - Lovely label, nice color, alright smell.

Mouthfeel: 1-10 points
Score: 7 - Slightly burny, not terribly oily.

Taste: 1-10 x 4 points
Score: 36 - Even burn from start to finish, honey flavor really comes out in the
end. Minimal aftertaste. Light hint of banana and amaretto coffee.

Raw Score: 71

Bonus: Value points 1-10 points
Score: 8 - Under $25 makes it a good buy.
Final Score: 79

We found this liquor in the store yesterday, and I knew nothing of it - I knew it was brand new (so new, in fact, that it lacks a real website - instead, the company has set up a Facebook page), and I was intrigued. Chris told me his friend's mother regularly drinks it in her unsweetened iced tea, which intrigued me further. Had Jack Daniels finally come up with something sweet?

I wasn't sure, but I wanted to find out.

We picked up the bottle this evening, and I immediately set it in the freezer to chill. The bottle actually instructs drinkers to enjoy it chilled - the first instruction I've seen on any Jack Daniels bottle. About a half hour later it was ready, and for once I had a room full of testers to give it a go. At the end of this review, I will post some audio from the group test. My guest testers are MaryBeth and Parker, and both Chris and I make appearances on the recording.

Upon first impressions, the bottle is similar to JD Black Label, but the label is distinctly different. The background color is cream, the text and embossing is gold, and a bee graces the front of the bottle. My immediate thought is this bottle just FEELS's certainly appealing to my female co-tester and myself. This might be JD's entry to those women who prefer sweet drinks...the same folks who generally shy away from whiskey.

When poured in a glass, the liquor is golden and thick...not quite as thick as a cordial, but it easily coats the glass. When sniffed, it's incredibly sweet and completely unlike regular black label Jack (but gives a slight hint of Single Barrel's sweetness). There are definite honey tones, as well as a light hint of the signature flavor of Jack Daniels.

The taste...well. It floored me. I've never had any sort of honey-based liquor other than mead before tonight, and I'm blown away at its flavor. At first taste, I noticed there was a light burn that hit immediately and stayed throughout, and there were hints of both banana and amaretto coffee. At the end, the honey flavor comes in very strong and sticks through the finish. There is almost no aftertaste, and I really feel this might be a good introductary whiskey for non-whiskey-drinkers. It's nicely sweet and doesn't turn the drinker off from it. Mixed in something like unsweetened iced tea, this would make an excellent summer drink.

I would highly recommend this to either a friend who has never had whiskey and wants to give them a try, or someone who already likes sweeter drinks and JD and wants to try something new. I also see this might have some use as a glaze for poultry.

Here's the audio from our tasting - apologies for the extra talking, Chris seemed to forget I was recording like 20 seconds into the tasting. ;)

Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey review by falnfenix