Friday, May 4, 2007

Review: Rittenhouse Rye 100 Proof

Wednesday was 31 cent ice cream day at Baskin Robbins. My baby mama calls me up at work and tells me we need to roll by there and pick up a couple of cones. An hour later, we can't even get near the parking lot. "But I was looking forward to a chocolate cheesecake cone," she complains when we see the line is out the door and half-way down the parking lot.

No worries, I've got a backup plan. I direct her to the BevMo and point her in the direction of the snack aisle as I make my way over to the whiskeys. I had a newly-redesigned Gentleman Jack in hand when I noticed that there were a few interesting rye whiskeys to my right. I put back the Jack and chose the Rittenhouse Rye, 100 proof. "How would you feel about popcorn?" Alli asked me plaintively, holding up a bag of JalapeƱo Cheddar. I hand my pregnant girlfriend the rye and we proceed to the checkout as I fish through my wallet for my frequent lush card.

Twenty minutes later we're back home with my rye, two In n Out hamburgers, Animal Style, and half a bag of disappearing popcorn. Alli dashes off to pee for the third time in an hour while I pour myself a quarter shot and take a taste. "Hey, Alli, do you know what firewater does?" "Burn?" she replies as she ties the waistband on the PJs she has slipped into before dinner.

Damn right it burns. All I can tell from the initial sip is that it has an oaky smell and burns from the tip of the tongue to half way down the esophagus. I add a little water and try again. The water cuts back on the fire and reveals a sharp wood flavor that leaves a sweet, slightly floral taste on the palate. Not bad. I couldn't drink this neat all evening since I had to be at work by 10 on Thursday, but I could certainly look forward to sipping a shot with a water back once or twice a week.

To enjoy this whiskey with dinner, however, I decided to mix the Rittenhouse with Pepsi. The cola diluted the wood character of the whiskey to reveal an earthy undertone, and ultimately amplified the sweet finish as cola tends to do to a decent whiskey.

In order to get a better idea of the performance of the Rittenhouse, I decided to make a Manhattan shortly before Lost started. I mixed the vermouth and whiskey in a glass, stirred well, and poured the mix into a martini glass. A couple shakes of bitters over the top, and I was ready to find out where John Locke has been since his dad appeared in the box.

The Rittenhouse dried out the sweetness of the vermouth, and the woody tone combined with the bitters added dimension to the syrupy Martini & Rossi. Definitely a worthy cocktail to enjoy while out on the town, but a little too strong to enjoy while distracted by the question of why John had locked Sawyer in the brig with John's father.