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: Crown Royal Noble Collection Rye 16 Years Old

By Christopher Null | October 11, 2021 |

Crown Royal’s latest Noble Collection release eschews tricks and keeps it simple, bottling a straight rye at the age of 16 years. Bold butterscotch and brown banana notes lead the way on the nose here, though the sweetness quickly blows off and leaves more savory elements behind — bacon fat and some black pepper emerging…

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Review: Sagamore Spirit Rye Tequila Finish

By Christopher Null | October 8, 2021 |

Baltimore’s Sagamore Spirit continues its ambitious yet strange finishing program with a new Distiller’s Select release that sees its straight rye whiskey finished in extra anejo tequila barrels. There’ s no word on how long the spirit is finished (or even how old it is before going into the tequila cask), or the name of…

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Review: Ammunition Wines, Bourbon, and Rye

By Christopher Null | October 1, 2021 |

Windsor, California-based Daylight Wine & Spirits is a rare operation that includes both winemaking and distillation operations. The two are interlinked: Its recent whiskeys are sourced products (both from MGP) that are finished in Daylight’s own wine barrels. Everything is bottled under the brand name of Ammunition (with some spin-off labels also in the mix).…

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Review: WhistlePig Roadstock Rye and Farmstock Beyond Bonded Rye and Bourbon

By Christopher Null | September 26, 2021 |

WhistlePig has been on an absolute tear lately, firing out new expressions left and right to the point where it’s hard to keep up. Today we’re looking at three new releases from the Vermont operation, including a unique rye and a matched pair of 101-proof whiskeys, one rye and one bourbon (bourbon! from WhistlePig!). Let’s…

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Review: Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye 13 Years Old

By Drew Beard | September 13, 2021 |

Julien Van Winkle III, by all accounts the godfather of today’s bourbon hysteria, put the family name on more than just bourbon. While the annual 15-, 20-, and 23-year-old bourbon releases are some of his most sought-after inventions, a slightly lesser known, but no less coveted, rye whiskey sits among the “Pappy” lineup. The Van…

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Review: Four Gate Batch 11 and 12

By Christopher Null | September 4, 2021 |

Four Gate continues to crank out whiskeys, and today we’re looking at two new releases — a rye and a bourbon, both quite different — from the Louisville-based operation. Four Gate Rye Batch 11 Ruby Rye Springs – This is the third representation of the same MGP rye from Four Gate, still 7 years old…

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Review: Taylor Garrett Whiskey, Rye, and Canteen Imperial Malt

By Christopher Null | September 2, 2021 |

New Mexico whiskey distillery Taylor Garrett is part of that new breed of distilleries that has embraced accelerated aging techniques. The company’s “breakthrough, all-natural aging technique” ages spirits in anywhere from 24 hours to 12 days, depending on which piece of marketing collateral you read. Other than saying the process is “purely physical,” details are…

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Review: Old Forester Single Barrel Rye

By Christopher Null | August 26, 2021 |

Old Forester’s standard rye, which launched in 2019, is a fine, versatile product. But what if a mere 100 proof doesn’t do it for you? Why, pump it up to Old Forester Single Barrel Rye, a cask strength expression of what is otherwise extremely self-explanatory. (The mash remains 65% rye, 20% malted barley, and 15%…

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Review: Barrell Seagrass

By Drew Beard | August 24, 2021 |

You’ve got to hand it to the folks at Barrell Craft Spirits; they come up with some interesting names for their special releases. Then again, most of their products get released into the world as just a batch number, so when they do get a chance to flex some creative muscle, it should be memorable.…

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Review: Coalition Rye Margaux Barriques

By Christopher Null | August 19, 2021 |

Coalition Whiskey is an unusual outfit making not just high-test rye but also a variety of renditions of the spirit, each aged in a different type of Bordeaux wine barrel — Sauternes, Margaux, and Pauillac being the three varieties available. This is 100% rye made from local Kentucky grains, aged five years before bottling. We…

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