Raise your hand if you like rye whiskey.
Now, raise your other hand if you love rye whiskey.
Shake them if you’re excited about Heaven Hill’s (“HH”) latest release – Pikesville Straight Rye Whiskey.
Good. Now that I’ve gotten your full attention and those around you, let’s focus on the whiskey.
We’ve got the full product press release below for your reading pleasure, but here are a few quick facts to note about Pikesville Straight Rye Whiskey:
- The mash bill is reported as 51% Rye | 39% Corn | 10% Malted Barley. That means this one barely qualifies as a rye whiskey from a technical perspective, but don’t let that keep you from checking it out if you love rye whiskey.
For those keeping score at home, based on the mash bill, Pikesville is basically HH’s Rittenhouse Rye BIB with two more years of aging and an additional 10 proof points.
- Heaven Hill has been producing Pikesville Supreme Rye Whiskey for the Maryland market since they took over the brand in the 1980s and brought production to Kentucky. This new release reportedly won’t affect the availability of Pikesville Supreme in the Maryland market.
- The product will roll out to limited states this summer but will go national in the Fall at a suggested retail price of $49.99.
Here’s some information from the original product press release:
Heaven Hill Brands Launches Super-Premium Pikesville Rye
6-Year-Old, 110-Proof Spirit Salutes Traditional American Straight Rye Whiskey
Bardstown, Ky., July 8, 2015—Heaven Hill Brands, now in its third generation of family ownership and celebrating 80 years of crafting whiskey and curating all-American spirits brands, today announces the launch of a super-premium spirit, Pikesville Straight Rye Whiskey. At 6 years old and 110 proof, this new expression of Pikesville Rye is produced at Heaven Hill’s historic Bernheim Distillery in Louisville and aged in its premier rickhouses in Bardstown, Ky. With a suggested retail price of $49.99 for a 750ml bottle, it will roll out in New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles in Summer 2015, with allocated national distribution to follow in the Fall.
During previews, Pikesville Rye earned spirits industry acclaim, including a Double Gold Medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition and 95 Points at F. Paul Pacult’s Ultimate Spirits Challenge. Distilled from at least 51 percent rye, with corn and malted barley as the “small” grains, Pikeville Rye has an appealing pale copper color, reflecting its extra aging. Its aroma evokes earthy cocoa notes with oaky smoke underneath. On the palate, Pikesville Rye is dry and spicy, with hints of honeyed rye and cloves. Soft vanilla and baking spices round out the finish.
“Heaven Hill has a tradition of keeping storied brands alive,” says Max L. Shapira, President, Heaven Hill Brands, and second-generation family member. “We purchased the Pikesville brand as the Maryland Rye industry was disappearing and have distilled it for decades for the local market. As consumers have fallen in love with Straight Bourbon Whiskey, they have naturally expanded their passion to Rye. We wanted to update this authentic artifact of Americana for contemporary palates and offer this super-premium expression nationally.”
This marks the first major new product launch since Denny Potter was named Heaven Hill Brand’s Co-Master Distiller. Potter carefully selected each extra-aged barrel and determined the spirit’s ideal proof level.
“Pikesville Rye is the text book example of the traditional three-grain American Straight Rye Whiskey that laid the foundation for Rye’s current renaissance,” says Potter. “To set it apart from other Ryes, I selected barrels at a minimum of 6 years old from high storage and bottled it at a proof that allows the most character from the barrel to come through without overpowering the spicy grain notes. It will appeal to American Whiskey connoisseurs seeking a robust and flavorful sip and to today’s bartending community, as it mixes well in classic cocktails.”
With its Maryland roots dating back to 1895, Pikesville Rye returned after Prohibition, surviving ownership changes and the decline of the Maryland Rye whiskey industry. With Maryland production coming to a close in the 1980s, Pikesville Rye was kept alive by Heaven Hill Brands, which has produced the spirit in Kentucky ever since. It is a prominent brand in Maryland and is served throughout the Baltimore metropolitan area. The traditional 80-proof, 3-year-old Pikesville Rye will remain in production and will continue to be distributed in Maryland.
PIKESVILLE STRAIGHT RYE WHISKEY REVIEW
- Name: Pikesville Straight Rye Whiskey
- Mash Bill: 51% Rye | 39% Corn | 10% Malted Barley
- Proof: 110 proof / 55% ABV
- Age: 6 years
- Year: 2015
Nose: Cocoa | Rye Spice | Green Apple | Clove
Taste: Rye Spice | Honey | Oak
Finish: There’s no mistaking this is a rye whiskey. It immediately bites your tongue with a familiar rye spice even though it’s only 51% rye. The rye balances out with honey and fades into a smooth finish with vanilla creme notes and milder baking spices. The burn is slow to return but is steady and warm–very enjoyable.
Neat, Splash or Rocks: Drinking this one neat was enjoyable, but I found the edges a bit rough with lingering alcohol notes that created a bit of a balance issue. Adding a few drops of water really tamed the hot alcohol notes and made it perfect. It also holds up well in cocktails like a Manhattan. (Note: Letting my glass sit for a longer period of time allowed the alcohol notes to fade away but let’s face it, at this price point this one is made to drink–not to linger around and wait for 20 minutes each time you pour a glass.)
Share With: Share this with anyone who enjoys a good rye whiskey. It’s a great addition to the whiskey market and will become a “go-to pour” for many folks. It’s also a great rye for introducing bourbon drinkers to the rye category.
Bottle, Bar or Bust: This one is worth the money at a suggested retail price of $49.99. It’s a solid 6-year rye whiskey full of flavor that makes it perfect for drinking straight or in a cocktail, making it extremely versatile.
This one’s destined to be in regular rotation in my home bar. Let me know if you buy a bottle before trying it at the bar and don’t like it. I’ll send you my address, and you can send me the rest of your bottle.
Disclaimer: A sample of Pikesville Straight Rye Whiskey was provided by Heaven Hill for this review. We appreciate their willingness to allow Bourbon & Banter to review the whiskey with no strings attached. Thank you.