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

Tasting Report: Whiskies of the World Expo San Francisco 2015

By Christopher Null | May 10, 2015 |

This year marked my sixth consecutive in attendance at Whiskies of the World, a fantastic event that’s typically held on the San Francisco Belle paddleboat, docked in San Francisco Bay. I asked organizer Douglas Stone why it seemed so empty this year, and he told me it was an optical illusion: He pushed the distilleries’…

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Review: Craft Distillers Low Gap 2 Year Old Rye (2015), 2 Year Old Blended, and 2 Year Old 100 Proof Whiskeys

By Christopher Null | May 9, 2015 |

The mad microdistillers at Craft Distillers keep rolling with the Low Gap line. These whiskeys began as white dog releases in 2011, and the company has been putting out progressively older and more interesting expressions in the years since. Today we got to sample a trio of two year old whiskeys, including a rye, a…

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Review: Old Overholt Straight Rye Whiskey (2015)

By Christopher Null | April 6, 2015 |

Old Overholt’s been making rye since well before rye was cool. Part of the Beam Suntory empire, the brand claims heritage back to 1810 and was reputedly the whiskey of choice of Doc Holliday himself. Old Overholt is commonly used as a mixer — and is a frequent denizen of the Sazerac cocktail — but…

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Review: Bender’s Whiskey Small Batch Rye 7 Years Old Batch #2

By Christopher Null | March 5, 2015 |

What we’ve got here is Canadian rye, aged for seven years, then shipped off to San Francisco’s Treasure Island for bottling by a craft distilling operation, Treasure Island Distillery. The label says seven years, but actually for this second batch, the mashbill has been updated (now it’s 92% 9 year old rye, 8% 13 year…

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Review: Old Potrero 18th Century Style Whiskey and Single Malt Straight Rye

By Christopher Null | March 3, 2015 |

Old Potrero is the craft distilling arm of San Francisco-based Anchor Distilling, and in addition to a number of gin and unaged whiskey products, it also produces a handful of aged spirits under the OP label. Today we look at two extreme oddities, both made 100% malted rye, which means the rye has been partially…

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Review: Jim Beam Pre-Prohibition Style Rye Whiskey (2015)

By Christopher Null | February 15, 2015 |

Good old “yellow label” Jim Beam Rye was, for many drinkers, their first exposure to rye whiskey. What was it? Aside from something mentioned in a Don McLean song? Beam’s Rye was good enough — cheap, too — like a racier bourbon, but maybe not as sweet. Or you could go for Old Overholt if you wanted…

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Review: Woodford Reserve Rye

By Christopher Null | February 6, 2015 |

Rye has long been the Next Big Thing in whiskeydom, and now it’s Woodford Reserve’s turn to get into the game. (When Maker’s Mark Rye eventually comes out, we can finally be assured that we’ve hit Peak Rye.) Woodford Reserve Straight Rye uses a mash of 53% rye, 14% malted barley, and 33% corn, and,…

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Review: Tap Rye Sherry Finished Canadian Rye Whisky 8 Years Old

By Christopher Null | February 4, 2015 |

The Canadian Tap brand is back with a third expression of its finished rye whiskies: Tap Rye Sherry Finished. As with the maple and port versions of Tap, “finishing” here means the addition of actual amontillado sherry to the blend of rye whiskies, not aging in ex-sherry barrels, the traditional definition of “finishing.” (That said,…

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Review: Hillrock Solera Aged Bourbon (2014), Single Malt, Double Cask Rye, and White Rye

By Christopher Null | December 28, 2014 |

When famous distiller Dave Pickerell (ex of Maker’s Mark) opened Hillrock Estate Distillery in upstate New York, he had but one product, a high-rye Bourbon aged in the solera style and finished in oloroso sherry casks. Since then, Hillrock has added three more craft distilled products, all super-local and carefully handmade, to its stable: a…

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Review: WhistlePig “The Boss Hog II: Spirit of Mortimer” Rye Whiskey Single Barrel 13 Years Old 2014

By Christopher Null | December 7, 2014 |

Clearly, Vermont-based WhistlePig has a stash of barrels of rye aging away in a warehouse, so each year the company can bottle a bit of it and see what happens, while the rest continues to mellow outtakes a little bit of its well-aged rye and bottles it just to see what’s going on. The rest lingers for…

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