An ominous tweet arrived here, about the same time my Rittenhouse 100-Proof Bonded in Bottle approached "E."
EatingOurWords Take note! RT @adriennebyard Just learned that the city is out of Rittenhouse 100, and that @BeardAndBitters bought the last 4 bottles.
Not given to panic, I waited a week. Jack at Spec's checked the availability of all Rittenhouse proofs and ages, coming up zeroes in all stores, except a new shipment of Rittenhouse 100 at the downtown World's Largest Liquor Store.
On the way there, I stopped instead at Tony K's Liquors, where Greg noted Rittenhouse was on back-order, and steered me to the new Bulleit 95 Rye. They'd sold a hundred bottles in the last month, which told me Bulleit has a good crowd-source buzz, or there's a hundred others with the same problem and solution.
Rittenhouse 100-Proof is straight-ahead rye and spice, whereas Bulleit, made from 95 percent rye mash, tastes of spice, tobacco, and cherry, with the usual oak and vanilla from barrel-aging. It's mildly sweet, but less so than bourbon or Jack Daniels.
Manhattan I mixed a Manhattan, with my preferred 2 ounces rye to ¾ ounces Martini and Rossi Italian Sweet Vermouth. The Rittenhouse shined, whereas the Bulleit had an unbalanced taste, so I mixed another with the traditional 2 ounces rye to 1 ounce vermouth. It was slightly sweet to my taste, but my resident fan of the cocktail declared, "That...is a Manhattan!"
Mix-maestro Gary Regan was impressed by Bulleit 95 with the drier Dolin Rouge French Vermouth, so I returned to Tony K's for another variation. My Manhattanite doesn't know (or care) who "gaz regan" is, but she has a new favorite version of the drink.
Verdict: I'm happy enough with the Rittenhouse. If Manhattans are your thing, the Bulleit & Dolin Rouge is a must-try.
Sazerac I mixed Bulleit with simple syrup and Peychaud's Bitters, iced and swirled absinthe in another glass, and served up a Sazerac. On the nose, a Bulleit Sazerac is intoxicating as the aroma of a white iris or the nape of a girl's neck, but on the palate, it tastes like a new flavor of Ricola cough drops.
Verdict: Rittenhouse, Old Overholt, and Sazerac 18 Rye share ownership of the Sazerac cocktail.
Old Fashioned To my great surprise, the Bulleit 95 made an amazing Old Fashioned. It didn't just best my favorite bourbon, it kicked Buffalo Trace's butt all over Kentucky and across the Ohio River to Lawrenceburg, Indiana, where Bulleit is distilled. It was even better when I cut the sugar to ½ teaspoon, and left out the orange slice.
Verdict: I want a lot more of those.
Finally, I poured a few ounces neat. This whiskey sips well. Bulleit 95 Rye isn't going to squeeze Rittenhouse out of my bar, but it's always going to be bumping against it.