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  1. #11
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    Re: Pikesville Straight Rye

    Many thanks, and for your suggestion, I'd love to participate. I think what must have happened was, when the brand was sold to HH, either HH also acquired existing inventory for the brand which Majestic had sourced from Schaefferstown or another PA distiller, or HH obtained whiskey from that State until it could ramp up its own production. I wonder if either this Pikesville or the Overholt you mentioned might have been from PA but not Michter's, e.g., Continental Distilling in Philadelphia. I do not recall when Continental stopped making whiskey but it might have been distilling around 1980. There may have been other plants still operating in PA at that time, and if so, if one of the brands was from a non-Michter's source in the State that might explain the taste difference. Or, they might be from the same distillery but of different ages or of course mingled to produce a different profile. I have tasted some National Distillers PA Overholt that seemed different from Michter's even accounting for the difference in the mashbills. Only a comprehensive table tasting should be able to develop some firmer conclusions!

    Gary

  2. #12
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
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    Re: Pikesville Straight Rye

    I, too, was under the impression that Pikesville was made by Majestic until HH obtained the brand, but it's possible that in the waning years, Pikesville was just sold by Majestic using whiskey sourced from Pennsylvania, and Heaven Hill obtained both the brand and the Pennsylvania source of supply.

    I know that when I visited Heaven Hill in 1991, they were making rye for their brands. The Rittenhouse 21, which they say they made in Bardstown, had to have been made in 1985. It's possible that they sourced whiskey from Pennsylvania as long as it was available. It's also possible they were doing the bottling at a certain point but someone else, Majestic presumably, was still sourcing and marketing the product.

    That was the normal trajectory of the Pennsylvania and Maryland rye distilleries. When sales of your own brands started to decline, you either started selling bulk whiskey to other people or shuttered your own distillery and started buying bulk whiskey from other people. Maryland shut down first so for a time the Maryland producers bought Pennsylvania rye. Then the Pennsylvania producers started to shut down and for a time they bought Kentucky rye. Then eventually, in each case, the failing company sold its brands to the producing company. Then sales would drop below what the producing company could sustain and they would sell to the next company down the line.

    Michters was the source of a lot of the straight rye produced in Pennsylvania and it is the one Pennsylvania distillery people know, so they might just be assuming this whiskey was distilled at Michters' (aka Bomberger, aka Pennco).

  3. #13
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    Re: Pikesville Straight Rye

    Majestic was only the contract distiller of Pikeville Rye and today continues to distill other alcoholic beverages. They did not bottle Pikesville. Pikesville was owned and bottled by Standard Distillers. Standard was owned by Andrew Merle, Jr whose relatives I have a fond association. I have one of the last production bottles of Pikesville Maryland Straight Rye. It was distilled of course in Maryland.

    After Andrew Merles' death the company was sold to Heaven Hill. I assume during the interim period(from the time HH began distilling rye until the aged whiskey was 4 yrs old) HH was using rye distilled in PA .

    Gary is correct that most of the old Maryland rye bottled near the end was 6 to 10yr whiskey.
    Dave G.

  4. #14
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    Re: Pikesville Straight Rye

    Thanks Dave for that clarification, I was aware that Merle owned the brand, but I thought Majestic both distilled and bottled it for him (and his company, Standard Distillers).

    Majestic today does not I believe distill any longer although they may still rectify, John Lipman's whiskey pages have some good information on this. See also www.majesticdistilling.com. Interestingly, Majestic under its own names sells a number of bourbons and blended whiskeys but not one straight rye. One of the bourbons (on the website) mentions a connection of some kind with Lexington, KY and Scott County but I can't figure out what is meant exactly.

    Gary

  5. #15
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    Re: Pikesville Straight Rye

    We must remember that the source of the Rittenhouse 21 was Rye Whiskey HH was making for their newly acquired Pikesville brand ( it was the only rye they were making in 1985). From circa 1985 to 1989 HH must have purchased their stock from PA sources for the whiskies they were bottling . For awhile it may have been called Maryland "Style" Whiskey.
    Dave G.

  6. #16
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    Re: Pikesville Straight Rye

    I think this is likely, Dave, and even Standard Distillers prior to the sale might have been sourcing whiskey from PA once the supply from Majestic ran out. But you are quite right, there was never a Majestic Distillers rye as such, Majestic made it for Mr. Merle's Standard Distillers but I assume bottled it as well. Lipman states that Majestic stopped distilling rye in 1972. If 6-10 year old rye was bottled at the end, that would take the last stocks of Majestic-sourced product to about 1982. From '82-'85 PA product might have been used if the sale to HH was in '85 or so.

    Anyway, I find the current Pikesville very nice and improved from three of four years ago. It has a softer palate and less obvious rye congener. It may be close now to the best of the Maryland Pikesville rye although younger I think (i.e., the 1960's Pikesville seemed older than 4 years with all that toasty depth). Maybe too the Bernheim taste of the rye differs somewhat from the DSP 31 taste.

    I wonder, if the product made now at Bernhiem was aged in Maryland, if it would approach more the flavor of that 1960's beverage.

    Gary
    Last edited by Gillman; 05-24-2007 at 04:03.

  7. #17
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    Re: Pikesville Straight Rye

    Quote Originally Posted by Gillman View Post
    I wonder, if the product made now at Bernhiem...
    Gary
    Is the product now made at Bernheim, or is it from Brown-Forman (DSP 354) along with its label-mate, Rittenhouse? I don't know, but would guess BF.

    Roger

  8. #18
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    Re: Pikesville Straight Rye

    Good point Roger, possibly the HH ryes, or those on the market currently, are or were distilled at B-F (and certainly the two brands come from the one mashbill).

    Gary
    Last edited by Gillman; 05-25-2007 at 04:24.

  9. #19

    Re: Pikesville Straight Rye

    On a practical note: to my taste, the Pikesville makes a great mint julep, but is too soft to make a good Manhattan; while a spicier rye doesn't make a great julep but is just the ticket for a Manhattan.

  10. #20
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    Re: Pikesville Straight Rye

    Very good point, my own experience validates that completely - and it may explain why the mint julep became associated mainly with bourbon. The Manhattan, closely allied of course to bourbon, never quite lost its associations (now revived) with straight rye whiskey. Possibly the good match vermouth makes with a good blend (as Chuck noted recently) provided a kind of bridge to the current revivalist interest in rye Manhattans. True, not all ryes as you noted are spicy, but most are.

    Gary

 

 

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