I (Dave here - Tina is not a rye drinker) was reading the Straight Bourbon bottle of the month thread about Rittenhouse BIB. This is probably applicable to any whiskey, but since a rye prompted the thought, I posted here.
Rittenhouse BIB recently won an award for Best American Whiskey. (This honor was recently covered in an issue of Whisky magazine which also included a provocative article by Chuck about blends, BTW). This might sound cynical, but I have to wonder: to what degree are the entries in whiskey competitions marketing based?
Rittenhouse BIB is (was?) a diamond in the rough. We don't have it in VA, but when traveling through WV, I could pick it up for $12 or so. Is it a better rye than similarly priced Beam or Overholt in VA? No contest! WT or baby Saz which cost $10-15 more? Probably. But is it better than Van Winkle rye? I've never tasted them blinded side-by-side, but VW rye is one of my all time favorite American whiskeys, period. Could R BIB have won against it? To me, that just seems crazy.
I don't know the competitors, so I'm genuinely asking: does a R BIB go up against a Saz 18 or a VW rye in these contests? As well as Booker's, ER 10/17 yo, Elmer T. Lee, Stagg, Blanton's and KY Spirit? Mind you, it's not hard for me to imagine a panel choosing it over one or two of those - but ALL of them? Or is the contest more about testing the marketing waters by rolling the dice on long shot bottom/middle shelf brands for a change in price point and/or heaping medals on sure-thing premium priced brands?
On the bourbon front, I think EW 1783 or AAA 10 yo could have easily won some similar competitions in years past. Once again, genuinely asking: were they ever entered, and, if so, did they?
Dave & Tina