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Dec 13, 2012 01:03 PM

Rye recs

Can anyone recommend a good rye for making Manhattans? I love Russell's 6-yr-old but I've been told they've stopped making it. I'm open to vermouth suggestions too.

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  1. These guys can:

    Do you like Russell's specifically for Manhattan's or just for sipping?

    I recently got a bottle of Rittenhouse 100 proof and finally understood all the hubbub regarding Manhattans. I had always wondered why they tasted like tainted vermouth to me and it was because I'd always used Old Overholt to make them. I think it's too insubstantial to make its presence felt in the drink. However, others might disagree and as sku points out in the thread I linked to, if your preferences lean toward the sweet and mild rather than drier and spicy, Old Overholt might be the rye for you.

    For vermouth, I've only had Noilly Prat and Dolin. I'd give Dolin the edge, but I think they're both fine products. Boissiere, Vya, and Carpano Antica are all worth keeping an eye out for as well.

    1. I'm pretty partial to using Old Overholt for cocktails at home if you're looking for something on the low end. It goes for around $20 a bottle here in Nashville.

      If you're looking for something more high proof, try Thomas H Handy rye.

        1. As far as I know, Russell's Reserve is still available, but many ryes have periodic shortages in certain markets. Russell's is made by Wild Turkey, so if you like it, you might like the basic Wild Turkey rye, though it's a bit spicier than Russell's.

          7 Replies
          1. re: sku

            Sku - I wish I had know they were cutting back on the WT 101 Rye when I was in PA last year, they had it for $18 a bottle and I would have bought a case. As it was, I bought 2 bottles and have yet to see it anywhere since.

            1. re: sku

              Just to clarify to the OP, Wild Turkey Rye is now available in 81 proof. We are all hoping that 101 will return at some point, but I haven't seen it around Boston for some time now. The 101 and 81 are different but the marketing info I read didn't really make sense to me.

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              1. re: EvergreenDan

                It's available in seemingly large quantities (i.e. fully-packed shelves), at various liquor stores near where I live. Most recently seen last week at Kappy's on Main Street in Malden. The shelf must have had at least 20 bottles. (That Kappy's is also worth a visit as it stocks Seleta Cachaca, which is by far the best one I've personally sampled to date, and that's the only place I've ever seen it.)

                1. re: davis_sq_pro

                  Does anyone know if Rittenhouse is going to become rare again? I couldn't find a bottle for six months and then about three months ago it was everywhere again. I just picked up two bottles on sale for $19.99 (an incredible value) for my strategic reserve, but I'm wondering if I should have bought a lot more if this is just a temporary bump in supply.

                2. re: EvergreenDan

                  The reason they cut back on the 101 is simple sales and marketing. Rye sales have increased dramatically and they don't have enough supplies right now. So they can sell more and make more money cutting it to 81. Same stuff, just lower proof. That's the direct word from folks I know there.

                  1. re: JMF

                    The Campari America press release (Feb 21, 2012) on WT 81 Rye says that it is made from the same mash bill, but in "char number 4 or 'alligator char' " barrels from 4 and 5 year old whiskeies. It supposedly was made so that it "wouldn't back down to a mixer". This press release doesn't say what barrels or ages are used for WT101 rye.

                    Obviously I'd say that a 101 proof spirit is better for "not backing down to a mixer", but it is unclear to me what other differences there are between the 81 and the 101. They seem to be saying that it isn't exactly the same as 101 + water.

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                    1. re: EvergreenDan

                      Q: Why would they admit it was the same, merely cut with water? What advantage would they gain?

                      This way -- potentially, at least -- a) people will buy both; b) the demand for the 101 will increase because -- like Pappy Van Winkle or Sazerac 18 -- "you can't get it!"; and c) in theory, at least, the consumer could purchase the 101 and cut it themselves -- thereby saving money.

              2. Bulleit rye is quite nice and also quite affordable. I'm also a big fan of Rittenhouse in Manhattans.

                I wouldn't recommend Old Overholt as it is overly sweet, thin, and insubstantial - vermouth kicks it's butt in a Manhattan.

                Are you sure they're done making Russel's reserve?

                7 Replies
                1. re: The Big Crunch

                  Crunch - Overhold reminds me of a typical Canadian whiskey more than an American straight rye.

                  1. re: ncyankee101

                    I know it has its die-hard fans (an old buddy of mine used to frequently bring along a bottle to any party I had) but Old Overholt has never struck me as being intrinsically very good, nor being a very good example of the style. Sure, it's perfectly palatable stuff to get wasted on, and ridiculously cheap, but if I'm going to the trouble of making a cocktail, I'll spend $5 more and buy the far superior Rittenhouse.

                    In terms of Canadian whiskeys, well, I'm somewhat embarrassed to admit that it's been so long since I've had any that I honestly can't make any claims about them. Out of curiosity, are there are good, distinctive, and affordable Canadian whiskeys worth trying?

                    1. re: The Big Crunch

                      Apparently at one time a few decades ago, Old Overholt was very good but it has changed distilleries a couple times since then and most people say it is a shadow of what it used to be.

                      I've only had a couple Canadians - Crown Royal and Canadian club 6 yr - and found them bland and boring. The CC tasted like whiskey flavored vodka.

                      I have heard of a couple that are 100% rye but have never seen them in the states. Alberta Premium is one.

                      1. re: ncyankee101

                        There are a number of very good Canadian straight ryes being bottled by American companies: Jefferson's Rye, Whistlepig Rye and Masterson's Rye are ten year old, 100% rye recipe ryes, likely from the same distillery. They are quite strong and spicy and would probably do well for those who like a particularly spicy Manhattan.

                        In terms of more traditional Canadian blends, the best ones never leave Canada. Forty Creek is probably the best one widely available in the US.

                        1. re: sku

                          Good point. I have a bottle of Jefferson's, fantastic stuff (on sale for $28.95 in Bethesda now to boot!) but forgot it was Canadian. When I asked about Canadian whiskey, I meant a blend that would sell on the the stuff being special in some way. Like I said, it's been a long time, but my vague memories of Crown and Canadian Mist aren't terribly impressive.

                          1. re: The Big Crunch

                            There is an ad playing on the radio in this area basically saying if you don't like the taste of whiskey you would like Canadian Mist.

                        2. re: ncyankee101

                          Canadian rye's don't actually have to have any rye content to be called rye, let alone a minimum of 51% like required here in the States. Also they can be up to 90% neutral spirit. Ever wonder why Canadian whiskey is so light and smooth? Because there is hardly any whiskey in them. Of course things are changing, but you have to be an educated consumer.