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Pikesville Straight Rye Whiskey released

Heaven Hill Brands has launched Pikesville Straight Rye Whiskey, a super premium spirit that is six years old and 110 proof. This new expression of Pikesville Rye is produced at Heaven Hill’s historic Bernheim Distillery in Louisville and aged in its premier rickhouses in Bardstown, Ky. With a suggested retail price of US$49.99 for a 750ml bottle, it will roll out in New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles this summer, with allocated national distribution to follow in the fall.

Distilled from at least 51% rye, with corn and malted barley as the ‘small’ grains, Pikeville Rye has an appealing pale copper colour, reflecting its extra aging. Its aroma evokes earthy cocoa notes with oaky smoke underneath. On the palate, Pikesville Rye is dry and spicy, with hints of honeyed rye and cloves. Soft vanilla and baking spices round out the finish. 

“Heaven Hill has a tradition of keeping storied brands alive,” says Max Shapira, president, Heaven Hill Brands, and second-generation family member. “We purchased the Pikesville brand as the Maryland rye industry was disappearing and have distilled it for decades for the local market. As consumers have fallen in love with straight bourbon whiskey, they have naturally expanded their passion to Rye. We wanted to update this authentic artifact of Americana for contemporary palates and offer this super-premium expression nationally.”

This marks the first major new product launch since Denny Potter was named Heaven Hill Brand’s co-master distiller. Potter carefully selected each extra-aged barrel and determined the spirit’s ideal proof level. 

“Pikesville Rye is the text book example of the traditional three-grain American straight rye whiskey that laid the foundation for rye’s current renaissance,” says Potter. “To set it apart from other ryes, I selected barrels at a minimum of 6 years old from high storage and bottled it at a proof that allows the most character from the barrel to come through without overpowering the spicy grain notes. It will appeal to American whiskey connoisseurs seeking a robust and flavourful sip and to today’s bartending community, as it mixes well in classic cocktails.”

With its Maryland roots dating back to 1895, Pikesville Rye returned after Prohibition, surviving ownership changes and the decline of the Maryland Rye whiskey industry. With Maryland production coming to a close in the 1980s, Pikesville Rye was kept alive by Heaven Hill Brands, which has produced the spirit in Kentucky ever since. It is a prominent brand in Maryland and is served throughout the Baltimore metropolitan area. The traditional 80-proof, 3-year-old Pikesville Rye will remain in production and will continue to be distributed in Maryland. 

13 July 2015 - Felicity Murray The Drinks Report, editor