When I started drinking whiskey, and more importantly American Whiskey, the coolest bottle I could handle paying for was Rittenhouse Rye whiskey. Rittenhouse is a rye whiskey bottling from Heaven Hill, the same people that make Old Fitzgerald, and Elijah Craig. Sitting right around $20-$25 a bottle, it very quickly established itself as the gold standard rye whiskey in my mind.
In late August, it was brought to my attention that Rittenhouse had changed. Rittenhouse Rye is a Bottled in Bond Whiskey, which has a variety of legal stipulations, but for the sake of my point, it has to have the Distilled Spirits Plant number on the bottle. The whiskey I know as Rittenhouse is actually from DSP-KY-354. The new changed Rittenhouse is from DSP-KY-1. In short, the Early Times distillery from Brown Foreman used to make Rittenhouse, and now the Bernheim distillery with Heaven Hill is making Rittenhouse.
This blew my mind. For so long I was committed to Heaven Hill and how good their rye was, only to find out it was being made by the same guys who make Old Forester. How did this happen? As it turns out, there was a fire in 1996, and they lost several warehouses and portions of the distillery. As a favor (and effective business deal) Heaven Hill relieved a portion of it’s production requirements by having Brown Foreman and Jim Beam make some of their whiskey until they could get back on their feet. In the last 10 years, Heaven Hill has been expanding capacity, and in 2008 the Bernheim Distillery began making rye. Both whiskies are delicious, and there are some differences if you’re looking, but Rittenhouse is to remain my gold standard.
All that being said, within the American Whiskey industry you have competitors coming to each others aid. It reminds me very much of the craft beer industry, and closer to home, the restaurant industry. Where everybody is pulling for each other, supporting the efforts of your neighbor, and being picked up by your buddies when you’re in need. American whiskey is great, because despite being behemoth companies and huge production requirements, they are still neighbors, friends and understand the importance of community and hospitality. A rising tide lifts all boats, and thats what we love about what we do.
Chad M. Owen Lead Tender / Mixer of Miscellany Seven Grand Whiskey Bar San Diego, CA
Seven Grand’s very own Dustin Newsome presents to you the world famous Old Fashioned. This delightful concoction consisting of Bourbon, bitters, sugar and citrus has been a Seven Grand staple since our opening in 2007. Traditionally, the first use of the name “Old Fashioned” for a Bourbon whiskey cocktail was said to have been, anachronistically, at the Pendennis Club, a gentlemen’s club founded in 1881 in Louisville, Kentucky. The recipe was said to have been invented by a bartender at that club in honor of Colonel James E. Pepper, a prominent bourbon distiller, who brought it to the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel bar in New York City. Now, a staple cocktail in any establishment based around traditional classic cocktails. Check out how Dustin and the Seven Grand mix it up. We have it batched up on tap too!
Last month Seven Grand was fortunate enough to enter our seventh year of operation in Downtown Los Angeles. We are humbled and grateful for our continued success, and to have been able to play a part in the reinvigoration of L.A.’s Historic Core.
As we have grown to provide high-volume Classic Cocktail service, we have also worked to establish one of the most active Whiskey Education programs on the West Coast. The only way this is possible is through the sustained efforts of a dedicated staff, and we strive to create a culture of honest hospitality and mutual respect among our crew.
Last month we were ranked in GQ Magazine as one of the Top 10 Whiskey Bars! Check it out:
Mellow Corn – $8
This is good, cheap, fun whiskey. It is bottled in Bond, aged 4 years in used barrels, and has a shockingly pleasant and sweet profile for such low price. Try it in a Sour.
Bruichladdich TEN – $15
The Distillery calls this the most important release in the history of the distillery. It is their pet project, even with all the outstanding and extreme whiskys they make on a regular basis. This one is the centerpiece. 100% Scottish Barley and aged in Bourbon barrels, this one doesn’t have the explosive smoke you come to expect from them or the island. A touch of spice, balanced out with nice sweetness and perhaps the most well rounded whiskey they may have yet made.
Bruichladdich Port Charlotte Peat Project – $16
Heavily peated and vat blended to get the lightness, smoke and complexity the master distiller is going for. It is their classic peated expression as they would like to see it yearly, and done so through some tasteful blending.
Bruichladdich Port Charlotte 10 – $17
The same dram as the before mentioned TEN, this is the heavily peated version. Just as they are most proud of the TEN as the Whisky they were aiming to make from day 1, this represents where they have wanted to take their peated line with full age.
EH Taylor Rye – $18
A new Rye from Buffalo Trace Distillery, it is another addition to the EH Taylor line of very good American Whiskey and like it’s relatives, bottled in bond. Unlike what I had initially thought, this is not the same mash as Sazerac, but an altogether new Rye from the Distillery. They have left out the corn and only distilled this from Rye and Barley. As such, there is a soft hint of the green dill note found in the LDI stuff. Lots of dried red fruit and black pepper up fruit, with a sweet and savory middle with caramel and baking spices and a long and dry finish. Very good Rye, and a nice new addition that is from one of our favorite distilleries.
Russels Reserve 6yr Rye – $12
Wild Turky has finally released some more of their high end Rye, due to availability, the price has gone up. Thankfully they only raised the price and opted to leave the proof alone, and we have one of our best selling and most popular house Rye’s back from many years ago.
Westward Oregon Straight Malt Whiskey – $29
This is the first aged Whiskey from House Spirits in Oregon. We launched it this year in the Whiskey Society, and it is very limited, 5 barrels total. That explains the cost, and perhaps the appeal. It should sell well with those in the know. House Spirits is currently aging our Rye Whiskey Pedro made with them in November, and in a couple more years we will have it here in house. Until then, this is what we can offer. (The folks up at House Spirits made a cool video about our experience getting to make whiskey with them:)
James Pepper 1776 Rye – $10
Really nice 100pf Rye coming from LDI. Affordable and good.
Temperance Trader Bourbon – $10
From Portland Oregon and Bull Run Distilling. They wont say where they bought it, but its high Rye Bourbon, and pretty good. A bit young, but full of flavor.
Jack Daniels Unaged Rye – $12
Jack Daniels has boldly broken new ground in the Whiskey world by making their first ever Rye. They were shocked at how amazing their initial Small Batched spirit turned out, and only released a very small amount for their hard-core fans. We are one of only three bars in SoCal who has it! Get it while it’s still unaged, because as of now, it will never be White again.
Bulleit 10yr – $12
They have stuck with the usual high Rye Bourbon mashbill from the original here, and side by side with the original, they are different, the 10 is more barrel heavy, but also more mellow. A similar upgrade to Bulleit as the Maker’s 46 bottling was to Makers.
George Dickel Rye $8
Dickel has done something nice here. This is the usual LDI bottling of Rye we have come to expect from new Ryes on the market, except they are running it through the Lincoln County process in Indiana after buying it. It is 5 year old Rye and filtered through maple wood charcoal after the aging, as opposed to before as they do with their other whiskies. It softens out some of the green mint notes normally found in these whiskies, and definitely produces a unique Rye. Perhaps too mellow after the aging though, even at 90 proof it really isnt cocktail Rye and is best sipped neat. We now have LDI Ryes from Bulleit, Templeton, Redemption, Smooth Ambler, High West and now George Dickel, but the Dickel is standing out from the crowd by taking the whiskey and really doing something new with it.
Nikka 12yr Taketsuru Pure Malt $16|
Malt whiskies matured for 12 years or more at the Yoichi and Miyagikyo distilleries are blended in vats to produce this outstanding pure malt whisky. Labeled Pure Malt instead of Single Malt because it is Whiskey coming from two different distilleries, much in the same vein as the Hibiki, this is still 100% 12 year old Single Malt Whisky. Bright gold in color and fresh, this single malt from Nikka offers a pitch-perfect balance of fruit, oak and smoke. On the palate, this translates to fresh apple and subtle vanilla flavors that lead into a long finish.
Nikka 15 Yoichi Single Malt $23
I wish tasting Nikka Whisky was a full time job. This is my favorite new Whisky I tasted last year. Silky in texture, with varying levels of sweetness coming and going and a touch of ginger spice keeping it alive. There is a subtle smoke in the background that holds it all together and a beautiful cedar wood note that helps it stand apart from the Suntory Whiskies. Jim Murray gave it 95 points, “Sheer brilliance. An absolute must for anyone who regards himself a whisky connoisseur.” At $23 a glass, you really can’t do much better, and for anyone who would like to try something really special, this is the one. It’s proof that age doesn’t matter, and if you put this up against another Whisky twice its age, I think you’ll agree.
Irishman Single Malt $12
Good Irish distilled at Middleton. We launched this at the Whiskey Society. An easy sipping Irish, well-balanced and smooth. Come meet a new friend.
Four Roses Seven Grand Single Barrel $14
Pedro and Angus picked out this charmer, and truly one of a kind Bourbon. Four Roses has ten different recipes they use to make ten different Bourbons. How it works is they have two different mashbills, a High Rye and a Traditional High Corn, and 5 different yeast strains. They make each mashbill with each yeast strain, 5 yeasts times 2 mashes equals 10 Bourbons. Pedro and Angus blind tasted all of the Bourbons there, picked the one we now have, and it turns out the specific recipe that they ended up choosing is the only one of the ten that is not available to buy anywhere in the entire world. We are literally the only place on the planet that has it bottled. It was also the same barrel that Master Distiller Jim Rutledge also chose as his favorite, blind tasting along with them. Badass duo, that Pedro and Angus… It is a really lovely Bourbon, but hot as all hell, and I would really suggest offering a decanter of spring water along side it if someone orders it neat, or even some rocks to go along (please forgive me Pedro). At $14, I have a new favorite on the wall.
(We were featured on BourbonBlog.com while in Kentucky- Check out the video!)
Michters Sour Mash Whiskey $13
This is a tricky one. I have searched as hard as I can through pages and pages of google results to find out what the hell this Whiskey is. The best I can figure out is that it is indeed Bourbon (ie a Corn, Rye and Barley mashbill), but the reason they do not label it as Bourbon and instead opt for Sour Mash is that is not using only new barrels for the aging. But even that little is still speculation. The truth is that while Michters makes (actually, selects is the right verb here) some very good whiskey, they are very closed as to what they are doing and where they are getting it from. Most people think it comes from Four Roses, others think there has to be some LDI spirit in there somewhere. They could be buying and blending both, the truth we will never know. But this is the one Whiskey from them that they have promised to keep in stock permanently, and make their flagship brand. It is a brand that was made long ago at the Michters Distillery in Pennsylvania, and also served then as their flagship, where they felt that the in house yeast they used made so much of a difference, that they branded it as a Sour Mash whiskey instead of Bourbon. And that could be what this new company is doing as well. It certainly tastes like Bourbon, and tastes like pretty good stuff.
Dad’s Hat Rye $11
A micro distillery in Pennsylvania just miles from where Dustin grew up, Dad’s Hat shows a lot of potential, but is still very young, at 2 years. Given some more time, this could develop into a very nice Rye, and its a treat to see a new one on the wall that is not being sourced from Indiana. They are sourcing all of the grain from the state from local farmers and the mash is 100% Rye. They then age it in smaller 1/4 casks, to impart more barrel character quicker. Certainly worth a try in a cocktail, and a decent, or at the very least interesting, Rye to sip.
Duncan Taylor Longmorn 1996 16yr Cask $22
Longmorn, Gaelic for “the place of the Holy man”, is a favorite of mine, Pedro, JM and hopefully quite a few more of you. This Private Bottling is Cask Strength and is immediately recognizable as the delicious, classic, unsherried Speyside whisky from what could be the best distillery in the region. Full of sweet malted barley with accents of fruit and flowers, finishing with hints of vanilla and spice.
Some recent additions to our collection of Gordon & MacPhail Private Bottlings-
G&M Ledaig St. Joseph 1993 – $22
19 year old Ledaig, finished in St Joseph casks. Very good, and what you would expect from Ledaig. Light peat, but very wine forward due to the casks.
G&M Old Pulteney 21 Year Old – $30
Best Whisky in the World last year.
G&M Mortlach 15 Year Old – $20
Mortlach is the major component of Johnnie Walker Black. Delicious all the way through and a great Single Malt suggestion for JW drinkers.
G&M Highland Park 8 Year Old – $12
Our favorite malt, younger and more affordable. Single Malt Scotch for $12 a glass.
G&M Bladnoch 1993 – $25
The most southerly of all Scotch distilleries and a great Lowland. Finished in refil Sherry.
G&M Caol Ila 1999 10 Year Old – $18
A very good peaty and smoky whisky, perhaps lacking complexity, but making up for it in balance.
Thank you Andrew for all the great tasting notes! We hope you get a chance to come sample some our new selections, and if you haven’t been down for Happy Hour lately, you really should come. We now serve a $5 Hand-crafted Cocktail Menu, (Thank you Dustin!) and offer $6 Pizza until 8pm, weeknights.
We also expanded our Free Live Music program to four nights a week, Sunday through Wednesday, with some of the best Jazz and Blues in all of L.A. Never a cover charge.
We also offer Private Tastings for groups and parties. Hit this link to learn more on that:
- 1 1/2 oz. Rye Whiskey
- 1/2 oz. Port
- 1/2 oz. Dark Rum
- 1 dash Angostura
- 1 dash orange bitters
Build in old fashioned glass with ice, garnish with orange peel.
This dark horse classic strikes your palate like a velvet sledge hammer with it’s robust, yet soft and unusual ingredient line up. According to the ‘Old Waldorf-Astoria bar book’, this cocktail was invented there to celebrate James R. Keene, whose stable was legendary in the Suburban Handicap in Brooklyn’s Sheepshead Bay track in 1884.
Not only is this Noir destroyer a historical mating for Seven Grands rich wood texture and dark billeted leather, it drinks like our rich decor feels.
Bartenders note: Try creating an interesting variation by substituting sherry for the port.
Seven Grand, Head Barman