Rye whiskey has a unique and amazing flavor. There are a few rules that make a rye whiskey, a rye whiskey. The mash must be 51% rye, it cannot be distilled to over 160 proof and then diluted 125 proof before it, must be charred in new oak barrels for at least 2 years. Every rye whiskey has it’s own distinct flavor, and there are quite a few brands out today. It its early days rye whiskey was produced and imbibed the most in the northeastern states, especially Pennsylvania and Maryland. Rye whiskey lost most of its producers during prohibition (some stalwarts found a way through) but have rebounded in the last 30 years, so there are many different varieties.
The rye whiskey is perfect for the connoisseur that is looking for something that is in between the sweetness of a bourbon and most scotches. It has a very specific dry profile that lends itself well to a slightly modified old fashioned, or manhattan. Rye grain is known for adding in a spicy or fruity flavor to whiskey. Bourbon is distilled using at least 51% corn, and this is what makes it noticeably sweeter.
Over the last few years we have compiled a small list of our favorite ryes (that are reasonably priced) that work well for sipping as well as for perfect cocktails. Below each one is a link to their sites. All of these are great sipping whiskeys but they are also great in mixed cocktails with each one bringing its own unique character. At the bottom of the page I set a link to nice cocktail produced by our friend Derrick at Common Man Cocktails.
Templeton Rye Small Batch – A classic rye at a reasonable price, it is smooth and spicy with a clean finish.
Price – $39.99
Produced in Templeton Iowa
George Dickel Rye – This rye starts at a 95% rye mash, and then ran through a sugar maple charcoal for the filter process. The result is complex whiskey with a lot of cedar, oak, spice, and even a hint of fennel.
Price – $25-30
Produced in Cascade Hollow, Tennessee
10th Mountain Whiskey – This is also a 95% rye mash, and has aromas of oak, dark fruit, caramel, and a hint of cinnamon. It has a dry finish with a lingering spice.
Price – $44.99
Produced in Vail, Colorado
Bulleit Rye – Russet in color, with rich oaky aromas. The taste is exceptionally smooth, with hints of vanilla, honey, and spice. Finish is crisp and clean, with long, lingering flavors.
Price – $40
Produced in Louisville, Kentucky
A Rye Manhattan