While bourbon is considered America’s native spirit, rye was actually the favored whiskey among her earliest colonists and continued to be popular well into the 1800s, especially in northeastern states like Maryland and Pennsylvania. George Washington even famously distilled rye at his Mount Vernon estate in Virginia. By U.S. law, rye whiskey must be made from a mash of at least 51% rye (with corn and malted barley typically rounding out the remainder of the mashbill). Rye must adhere to the same production standards as bourbon: aged in new, charred oak containers, distilled to no more than 160 proof, entered into barrel at no more than 125 proof, and bottled at a minimum of 80 proof. A straight rye whiskey must be aged for at least two years. Rye whiskey production largely ceased in the U.S. after Prohibition, despite its popularity with America’s nascent cocktail culture at the time — although rye has always been popular in Canada, and rye remains a major component in many Canadian whiskeys today. The resurgence of American whiskey in the late 1990s and an explosion in the popularity of craft cocktails around the same time has launched a revival in rye whiskey production — and consumption — in America.

Top Rye Whiskey Posts:

Knob Creek Rye
WhistlePig Straight Rye Whiskey 10 Years Old
Woodford Reserve Rye

Review: The Gospel Straight Rye Whiskey

By Christopher Null | September 30, 2022 |

Here’s a fun fact: The Gospel Straight Rye Whiskey is the first Australian whiskey that is legally labelled as “straight,” following the strict distillation and maturation rules required of American whiskeys. The whiskey is made form 100% unmalted rye grown on a single farm in the Murray Mallee region of South Australia, said to be…

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Review: Chicken Cock Island Rooster Rye

By Christopher Null | September 9, 2022 |

The latest Chicken Cock release has arrived: Island Rooster, a Kentucky straight rye (95% rye, 5% barley) finished in Caribbean rum casks for six months. No age info on the base spirit, however. The results are decidedly strange — and they distinctly lean toward the rum side of the fence. The nose is very floral,…

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Review: Southern Star Standard Bourbon and Double Rye (2022)

By Drew Beard | September 6, 2022 |

We’ve been keeping tabs on North Carolina’s Southern Distilling Company for a few years now. The distillery remains one of the largest, if not the largest, in the state and continues to expand their portfolio. Initial offerings, some of which we covered in 2019, relied mostly on whiskey distilled by MGP, but the distillery is…

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Trey Zoeller

Jefferson’s Founder Trey Zoeller Talks Bourbon Heritage and Making Kentucky “Cool”

By David Tao | September 4, 2022 |

In the age of bourbon sourcing, blending, and cask finishes, Jefferson’s Bourbon certainly stands out as a pioneer. Launched in 1997, the brand predates the 2010s “Bourbon Boom” by more than a decade, and Jefferson’s founder Trey Zoeller has witnessed most of the industry’s current trends since their inception. Indeed, Zoeller and his team were…

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Review: Shortbarrel Toasted Bourbon 101 and Rye 101

By Drew Beard | September 4, 2022 |

Georgia-based Shortbarrel is a recent addition to the ever-growing list of independent American whiskey bottlers. It began as a barrel picking group in 2016, but by 2021, after more than 350 barrel picks, a few of the group’s members decided to graduate to brand building. In less than two years, they’ve established a modest portfolio…

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Review: Michter’s Single Barrel Straight Rye 10 Years Old 2022

By Christopher Null | August 22, 2022 |

Looking forward to Michter’s 10 year old whiskey annual releases? This year you’re getting just one: the 2022 bottling of Michter’s 10 Year Old Rye. As always, this is a single barrel release of sourced Kentucky rye albeit one not bottled at cask strength. The good news is it’s a winning release for the producer,…

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Review: WhistlePig PiggyBack 100% Rye 6 Years Old – Big Papi Edition

By Christopher Null | August 21, 2022 |

There are crazy gimmicks and then there is this special edition of WhistlePig’s PiggyBack 6 year old rye, a whiskey that was formerly most famous for being Dave Pickerell’s final product produced for the Vermont operation. Now, it’s the base for the mother of all stunts: An edition of PiggyBack that is finished with baseball…

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Review: WhistlePig SmokeStock Whiskey

By Monica Uhm | August 14, 2022 |

WhistlePig has always leaned towards a bit of irreverence in their exploration of whiskey expressions. Their 100% rye whiskeys have been well regarded as well as their special releases (despite their price tag). For this latest release, the company collaborated with Traeger grills, creator of the wood pellet grill, to create a BBQ themed whiskey.…

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Review: Cascade Moon Rye 13 Years Old and Barrel Proof Spirit 15 Years Old

By Christopher Null | August 8, 2022 |

Cascade Moon — the upscale sub-brand of George Dickel — recently dropped two new releases. Also dropped has been the numbering system which came with its first two whiskies, dubbed No. 1 and No. 2. Going forward, Cascade Moon bottlings will be distinguished by unique labels and descriptive naming systems explaining exactly what’s in the…

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Tasting Report: Jack Rose Premier Drams 2022

By Drew Beard | August 5, 2022 |

It was a terrible, no-good two years for in-person spirits events (make that in-person events of any kind), but things are finally, thankfully starting to return to normal. Chris noted (with some surprise) that Whiskies of the World held its San Francisco event last fall but at a reduced scale. Washington, D.C.’s famous Jack Rose…

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