Rye

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: Oppidan American Botanical Gin and Malted Rye Whiskey

By Christopher Null | September 29, 2015 |

Oppidan is a Chicago area-based microdistillery that is starting off with two products — a gin and an aged, malted rye. We tried them both. Thoughts follow. Oppidan American Botanical Gin – A spin on London Dry, with grapefruit peel, hibiscus, cinnamon, elderflower, ginger, cardamom, and chamomile among the named botanicals. The nose is gentle…

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Review: Buffalo Trace Antique Collection 2015 Edition

By Christopher Null | September 17, 2015 |

As bourbon (and rye) mania continue to sweep the nation, this year’s Buffalo Trace Antique Collection is setting up to be one of the hottest releases ever. (Surely you’re heard about Stagg? If not, read on for the spoiler…) As always, these are all highly capable, unique, and for the most part worthwhile whiskeys. But…

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Review: Pikesville Straight Rye Whiskey

By Christopher Null | September 16, 2015 |

Heaven Hill loves to make rye, and based on the enormous success of Rittenhouse Bottled in Bond, people like to drink it, too. The company is expanding its rye portfolio with Pikesville, a 6 year old straight rye bottled at a blazing 110 proof — clearly inspired by the success of Rittenhouse at 100 proof. (Pikesville…

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Review: Highspire Pure Rye Whiskey

By Christopher Null | September 3, 2015 |

100% heirloom rye. Double pot distilled. Aged for 130 days in used Paso Robles wine barrels. Chill filtered. Finished with oak staves. Made in Kentucky. Winemaker Austin Hope has turned to whiskeymaking with this foray into distilling with Highspire, a very young rye (not legally able to be called one due to its odd production…

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Review: High West Bourye (2015) and American Prairie (2015)

By Christopher Null | August 22, 2015 |

Utah-based High West is a fun distillery to try to keep up with. Blink and they’ve got a new product. Blink again and it’s gone, replaced with something else. It’s been a year since we last visited with High West and already things are evolving. Bourye — the bourbon and rye blend — was off…

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Review: Four Kings Rye 2015 Craft Collaboration

By Christopher Null | July 30, 2015 |

Last year, four craft distillers got together and made a collaborative bourbon by vatting together their own craft spirits into one mega-craft bourbon called Four Kings. (Don’t go searching for a review, we didn’t sample it.) This year, the quartet is back at it but is producing a rye instead. The four distilleries include Corsair Distillery in…

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Review: Alberta Rye Dark Batch Whisky

By Christopher Null | July 25, 2015 |

Alberta Rye Dark Batch Whisky is so complicated it is typically accompanied by a flowchart explaining the convoluted method by which it is made. I’m going to try to digest this oddball Canadian rye for you… but don’t feel bad if you get lost. Really it’s all about what’s in the glass in the end. Alberta…

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Review: WhistlePig “Old World” Rye Whiskey 12 Years Old 2015

By Christopher Null | July 9, 2015 |

Every year WhistlePig — the acclaimed 100% rye whiskey — puts out a special edition. For the last three of those years the whiskey has been a spin on the original WhistlePig, generally getting older every year and/or bottled from a single barrel. For 2015, WhistlePig has something different in store: A whiskey that’s been finished…

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Review: Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel Rye

By Christopher Null | June 8, 2015 |

Wild Turkey is expanding the Russell’s Reserve line this year with a Single Barrel Rye expression. There’s already a Russell’s Reserve 6 Year Old Rye (much more expensive these days than the $25 it cost in 2007), but as with the Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel Bourbon, this is a higher-end expression that plays some of…

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Review: Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye (2015)

By Christopher Null | June 7, 2015 |

A Crown Royal Rye? Wait, isn’t all Canadian whisky “rye”? Hang on a sec. There’s a lot of confusion about rye and Canadian whisky, and rightly so: By law in Canada, a whisky only has to have some rye in it to be called a rye, part of an outgrowth of hundreds of years of shorthand…

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