I had finished my Old Overholt due to a run of Old Fashioneds that took over my bar, so I had to go get some more. But then I noticed that my local store, Spec's, had this interesting one on sale. I had never heard of it, so I decided to try it. It was only a couple dollars more than the Rittenhouse 100, so I figured it must be pretty good.
I like Rye whiskey, and I love Old Overholt. What makes Old Overholt so good is that it is flavorful without a lot of alcohol burn in the mouth. That's what (ri)1 is missing. The first taste is sweet and fragrant, but then the alcohol burn takes over. Perhaps I drank it incorrectly. Another taste. Still, the burn takes over and I taste nothing.
On its own, I would never drink (ri)1. I would stick with Old Overholt or Rittenhouse any day. How about in a drink, though?
The Sazerac we made was good. None of the problems of the straight (ri)1 were there. Mixing it with simple syrup, brandy, and anise made for a good, clean drink. Sure, I didn't really taste any rye flavors, but it was a good drink, nonetheless.
The verdict on (ri)1 is this: it makes for a good cocktail, but don't serve it straight to someone who likes rye whiskeys. Instead, stick with Old Overholt. It's half the price and so much tastier. Sure, this one makes a good mixed drink, but even that isn't worth it when Old Overholt makes the same drink just as well.
For more reviews of (ri)1, see Anvil's blog, Liquor Snob, and Drink of the Week. They all have a pretty different take on the spirit than I do. Perhaps I am just biased toward my old standby rye that I have trouble even giving this one a chance.