It just seems curious to me that these ryes are coming on the market that were made in, if they're 18 now, 1987 or so and I wonder, why? And why did their maker keep aging them for that long, without selling any 8 year in 1995, or 10 year in 1997, etc.
It just seems strange because all along there have been the Wild Turkey, Beam, Overholt, Rittenhouse, etc. standard straight ryes at whatever they are, 4 to 6 years probably, and that was it until Julian started selling his. Now there seem to a whole bunch of very old ryes out there. Where did they come from?
I'm not suggesting anything sinister, it just seems curious.
Of course, the related question is what's in the pipeline? Was this some kind of fluke? Somebody made an imprudent amount of rye in 1987 and when that's gone, all that's in the pipeline is the usual 4-6 year old stuff, or is there a steady supply of well-aged ryes coming down the pike? (And is it the Pikesville pike?)
There certainly was a big burst of industry consolidation around that time. Beam acquired National, which brought Beam's Rye and Overholt under the same roof. Roughly in that time period Medley acquired Fleischmann and then was itself acquired by Glenmore which shortly after that was acquired by UDV/Guinness, and I know there were huge amounts of surplus whiskey floating around that series of transactions.
A few years ago we saw this burst of extra-aged bourbons, mostly from non-distiller marketers. Many (e.g., Ezra Brooks, Jefferson's Reserve) have had to pull back in the last year or so because they can't find enough bourbon in that age range in the bulk market. Maybe the same thing is happening now with ryes.
I have not had the ryes mentioned here, but I have been a big fan of the Van Winkle ryes and I am crazy about the current Rittenhouse BIB. The Rittenhouse is definitely Heaven Hill's product but I wonder where it was made, since from November of 1996 (i.e., 8 years ago) until mid-1999 (almost six years ago), Heaven Hill didn't have a distillery. It's possible that the current Rittenhouse is from the first batch of straight rye HH made at Bernheim, but just barely, and that still doesn't explain where this much older stuff came from.
We can all speculate and weave theories, of course, but I don't expect that anyone who knows will actually tell us.