Review: Pikesville Rye

Pikesville Straight Rye is Heaven Hill’s newest rye expression and joins it’s Rittenhouse and Pikesville Supreme brands in the rye game. If you know me, you know that I like a good rye, and to be honest, Rittenhouse is my go-to. It’s only $18, it’s 4 years old, it’s BIB, and pretty much any time I compare it to another, more expensive bottle, Rittenhouse wins. Pikesville Supreme is a 3-year old, 80-proof “Maryland Style Rye” that has been produced at the Bernheim Distillery in Louisville since Heaven Hill took over the brand in the 1980’s and has been pretty much only available in the Maryland area.

Now comes along the Pikesville Straight Rye. It’s the same mash bill as the other two expressions but comes in at 110-proof and carries a 6-year age statement. Given my love of Rittenhouse, the decision to pick up a bottle of what is essentially an older, higher proof version was a no-brainer. Let’s see if it’s all I want it to be.

Company: Heaven Hill

Distillery: Bernheim Distillery

Location: Louisville, Kentucky

Mash Bill: 51% rye/39% corn/10% barley

Age: 6 years

ABV: 55% (110 proof)

Released: Summer 2015

Price: $40

Color: Reddish Amber

Nose: Rye spice, black pepper, cinnamon, and dark chocolate are the prominent notes up in the nose. The level of spice is nice, and while there is a touch of ethanol burn, it fades quickly as the pour opens up.

Taste: The rye hits first, but is very quickly accompanied by honey sweetness and some oak barrel fruitiness. You know I often try to be as objective as possible during these tasting notes, but stuff like this makes it hard because it just tastes so damn good. Black pepper, cloves, and strong black tea also join the party.

Finish: The sweetness quickly fades as the peppery rye heat and dryness from the oak take over. Cinnamon, cloves, and that oak are the primary lingering results. While the finish is definitely opposite of sweet, there is still a bit of honey (remember that candy? mmmm) that leaves your mouth coated and helps to balance out the fade away.

Overall: Well, I’m sold. This stuff is good, and while the MSRP I’ve seen quoted is $50, it was on the shelf for $40 which makes it a hell of a deal. Ok yeah, it’s Rittenhouse that is aged for 2-years longer and is 5% higher in alcohol for double the price, but when that original price is only $18 it’s totally freaking worth it. According to Heaven Hill this will see limited release this fall, and while I don’t know how limited it really is, it’s definitely worth grabbing if you see it.

I busted out my bottle of Rittenhouse while writing this so I could compare and this stuff really is just Rittenhouse with the volume turned up to 11. Be watching for a full Rittenhouse review soon, it’ll be interesting to see how it stacks up to its older, stronger brother.

Rating: 4/5


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