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  1. #1
    Bourbonian of the Year 2011
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    Pikesville Straight Rye

    I recently acquired a bottle from Baltimore. The bottle looks very recent. Stamped on the base is a 2001 by which I infer it was filled with Bernheim whiskey. This is 4 year old rye and it doesn't taste older.

    This rye tastes quite different than Rittenhouse. Assuming it is the same mashbill, the differences must result from maturation alone which means different locations in the warehouse. But I wonder if in fact the recipes are different since the whiskeys have always tasted quite different to me.

    In the past, Pikesville (from HH - not the Maryland original) was aggressive in taste. It had a huge raw rye hit and needed taming with ginger ale or in a cocktail mix.

    This current one is far more drinkable on its own. The rye is quite evident but does not obtrude overly, and the background is medium-age "bourbon" wood (probably the corn element and char) with some pleasant appley notes in the background. There is also a pleasing, "creamy" quality, it reminded me of the aromatic sweetness of cream soda pop.

    It would be interesting to try this at 100 proof but at 80 it is very approachable and very well balanced for neat sampling.

    Like Rittenhouse, I find Pikesville has gotten better. In Rittenhouse's case, I thought perhaps for the current BIB it might have something to do with the still it was made in (Early Time's) but because this current Pikesville is so good I think the reason in both cases is simply a renewed focus on these whiskeys. I think HH realises the market is aware of and wants quality rye and it is ensuring that its batches are better than ever, I think it is giving more attention in other words to the category.

    Whatever the reasons, Rittenhouse BIB and Pikesville are excellent whiskeys and they come to boot at a bargain price.

    Gary
    Last edited by Gillman; 10-18-2006 at 04:28.

  2. #2
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    Gary,

    I will purchase a new bottle and do a comparison with other Pikesville whiskey I have opened. I hope your right as improvement in the brand would be well received in Maryland and surrounding states.
    Dave G.

  3. #3
    Bourbonian of the Year 2011
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    Dave, I think you will be surprised.

    The base of my bottle reads at top: JG ........BM. Then one inch down: 42.............05. At very bottom, a 17.

    Delphic, but I take it the '05 means the bottle was made in that year, and the label dress is very fresh. (When I said in my earlier note the base said '01, I meant '05, I was writing from memory. What I meant was, a bottling in '05 of 4 year old whiskey would mean the whiskey was made in 2001 - at Bernheim. Even at 5 years old this would be so).

    This is really good whiskey. Try it.

    Gary
    Last edited by Gillman; 10-18-2006 at 19:12.

  4. #4
    Advanced Taster
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    I just finished my second bottle of Pikesville. I have no idea when they were bottled, but probably no earlier than 2005. When I first tried it, I didn't like it very much. I started to really like it when I tried it next to WT Rye. I could REALLY get the fruity flavors that way. Now I like it a lot. It's pretty different from the other ryes I've tried including Rittenhouse BIB (thanks Howie!) which is superb, Old Overholt which I don't really care for, and WT Rye which I like.

    Anyway, I'll be getting a third bottle soon. I find Pikeville to be a good pour when I want something less complex. Not an "everyday", but often, especially for under $10.

    Jay
    Saturday night I was downtown
    Working for the FBI
    Sitting in a nest of bad men
    Whisky bottles piling high
    - The Hollies

  5. #5
    Bourbonian of the Year 2011
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    Well put and I fully agree. Pikesville now is better than it was 5 years ago, though, it had a harsh edge then (which I think Dave was adverting to) that is gone in favor of good integrated flavor with a fruity/creamy background.

    Gary

  6. #6
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    I attended the Rye Whiskey seminar presented by Parker Beam and Larry Kass at WhiskeyFest on Monday.

    The 3 whiskeys tasted were Pikesville, Rittenhouse, and Rittenhouse 21.

    The Pikesville and Rittenhouse are currently being distilled by HH and use the same mashbill. The Rittenhouse has a fruitier nose and taste and is 1 yr older than the Pikesville. Both are very good ryes.

    The Rittenhouse 21 is an excellent aged rye, fruitier, spicier and with more wood.
    They discovered this rye aging in one of their warehouses and they believe that the whiskey was probably distilled for the Pikesville brand.
    Dave G.

  7. #7
    Bourbonian of the Year 2011
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    This shows how much aging makes a difference to the palate.

    I think the kind of warehouse, or location therein, matters too.

    Interesting that Rittenhouse shows as the more fruitier since the label of Pikesville refers to a fruity quality as being characteristic of Maryland rye. It was Rittenhouse that was more the Pennsylvania, drier style. I recall Joe's Dougherty's Overholt at the last KBF and that struck me as a typical Monongahela palate - dry, austere, with a wood varnish-like taste. This was an acquired taste to be sure but I like it. In today's rye I find Pikesville more in that style than Rittenhouse. I'll take em both.

    Gary

  8. #8
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    Re: Pikesville Straight Rye

    Last night I opened a bottle of Pikesville that was distilled in Pennsylvania and bottled at four years old. I will post more extensive tasting notes later, but I wanted to give my preliminary impressions.

    I had expected the whiskey to bear some resemblance to 80's era bottles of Old Overholt I've sampled. Unless my memory of those OO bottles is faulty, this was not the case. Nor was the Pennsylvania Pikesville at all similar to the Heaven Hill Pikesville that I recently posted as Virtual Bourbon #56. It lacked the rushing rye finish of the newer whiskey, but featured a much more complicated taste that involved dark fruit and must and wood. One taster described it as "cherrywood". I noted hay or straw, but nothing new-mown, something left in a dark barn for a while.

    I am going to pick up a bottle of the Saz Jr. to compare as the last bottle I had of that carried an earthy taste that I found overpowering. The musty flavor in the Pikesville is well matched by the fruitiness, and I find this more to my liking.

    Despite the four year label, I wonder if older whiskey is in the mix since there is some wet wood in the flavor. The finish is balanced and moderate. For an 80 proof whiskey, I think it is outstanding.

    The bottle is bottom stamped 88, and I am very pleased to have two 86 proof bottles in reserve. I find this whiskey to be sui generis and an altogether pleasant surprise.

    -Mike
    "This is the real article. It is double-rectified busthead from Madison County, aged in the keg. A little spoonful would do you a power of good."

    -True Grit by Charles Portis

  9. #9
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    Re: Pikesville Straight Rye

    Does it state on the label it was distilled in PA? I would have thought it might be pre-HH Majestic Distillers rye (i.e., made by the company in Baltimore which made it since the 1940's until it stopped distilling rye and continued as an importer, distributor and bottler). Your taste notes remind me of some of these I tasted with Dave Gonano, and I think it is true that at the end of the, um, pike for the rye when made in Baltimore, Majestic was bottling stock older than 4 years, upwards of 10 I think (because probably it hadn't distilled in the last years, simply bottled the aging stock). One of the other bourbon websites has a detailed history of the manufacture of this brand with photos of the plant where it was made.

    A possibility is that once its own whiskey ran out, to continue bottling, Majestic sourced the whiskey from other distillers (i.e., before the brand was sold and assigned to Heaven Hill). It might have purchased some from Schaefferstown, this is certainly possible, for this purpose.

    Gary
    Last edited by Gillman; 05-23-2007 at 13:04.

  10. #10
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    Re: Pikesville Straight Rye

    Yes, Gary. The bottle reads "Distilled in Pennsylvania". It is bottled by Standard Distillers Products Co. Bardstown. Heaven Hill, I assume. I had posted about the bottle elsewhere and was told that it was old Michter's whiskey. That's what led me to think it would resemble the Old Overholt which I understood was produced at Michter's at least for a while. But it doesn't really remind me of the OO which I enjoy but find to be much less complex. Since I have 86 proof bottles of both Overholt and now this Pikesville from the 80's, I'll hold them til I can attend one of the SB gatherings and share them with some more experienced tasters so I can get some expert opinions. It'd be great if you could make one of the group.

    -Mike
    "This is the real article. It is double-rectified busthead from Madison County, aged in the keg. A little spoonful would do you a power of good."

    -True Grit by Charles Portis

 

 

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