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

Buffalo Trace Antique Collection 2012

Review: Buffalo Trace Antique Collection 2012 Edition

By Christopher Null | September 25, 2012 |

There are a few things you can count on in the whiskey world, and one of them is the annual release of Buffalo Trace’s always-anticipated Antique Collection, a compilation of five very old and very rare American whiskeys that pretty much sell out immediately once they land on store shelves. (I’ve seen bars where these…

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E.H. Taylor Rye

Review: Col. E.H. Taylor Rye Whiskey

By Christopher Null | September 22, 2012 |

Buffalo Trace’s Col. E.H. Taylor, Jr. brand continues rolling along with this fifth expression, a bottled-in-bond rye. The mashbill is interesting and unusual: Only rye and malted barley, no corn. The proportion of each isn’t disclosed, but it’s definitely heavy on the rye. At 100 proof (like all bottled-in-bond whiskey is), it’s surprisingly hot. I…

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Review: Knob Creek Rye

By Christopher Null | July 22, 2012 |

Part of the Jim Beam family, the overproof Knob Creek has always been a go-to Bourbon when you wanted something a bit beefier, when the week has finally caught up with you — and yet which still exuded quality. And now you can get the kick in the form of a rye, with Knob Creek…

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Review: Jailers Tennessee Whiskey, Breakout Rye, and Forbidden Secret Cream Liqueur

By Christopher Null | June 2, 2012 |

Today we look at three new whiskey products brought to us by  a new company, the Tennessee Spirits Company, a division of Capital Brands. Formed by a group of spirits industry veterans, the focus here is (obviously) on Tennessee whiskeys, with this trilogy the inaugural releases. TSC doesn’t have its own distillery (yet) but plans…

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Review: Pendleton 1910 Canadian Rye Whisky 12 Years Old (2012)

By Christopher Null | May 31, 2012 |

With 1910 Pendleton (based in Hood River, Oregon) takes its Canadian whisky upmarket, bottling this 100% rye after a lengthy 12 years in oak. (The name is a reference to the first ever Pendleton Round-Up rodeo, which took place 102 years ago.) I’ve previously discussed the standard, blended Pendleton bottling as overwhelmingly sweet, but things…

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Review: Wild Turkey Rye 81 Proof

By Christopher Null | May 28, 2012 |

Following on the release of its lower-proof Wild Turkey 81 Proof Bourbon, Wild Turkey is at it again, releasing a new Wild Turkey Rye at 81 proof. Wild Turkey makes a 101 proof Rye at present, but this is not widely available and in fact I’ve never tried it. In fact WT says that a…

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Review: Willett Single Barrel Rye 3 Years Old

By Christopher Null | January 8, 2012 |

No big ceremony here: I can’t find much info on the mashbill (or anything else, really) for this whiskey, but I found this little Kentucky gem at Costco for all of $32.99. A really young, high-proof rye (110 proof), this lil’ upstart demands water and plenty of it. Without agua it’s just too brash (not…

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Review: Woodford Reserve Master’s Collection Rare Rye Selection – New Cask Rye and Aged Cask Rye

By Christopher Null | December 5, 2011 |

Every year Woodford Reserve releases a limited-release Bourbon, usually with a special finish or mashbill. This year it’s not releasing a Bourbon. It’s releasing a rye. Or rather, two of them. I caught a sneak peek of this being prepared for bottling when I visited Woodford this summer. Now here it is, on my kitchen…

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Review: Buffalo Trace Antique Collection 2011 Edition

By Christopher Null | October 4, 2011 |

We’ve been writing about Buffalo Trace’s awe-inspiring Antique Collection for longer than I can remember, and each year it seems like these five Bourbons are better than the last time out. This year that streak seems to be taking a breather, with a mixed bag of very good and merely “OK” whiskeys. I’d still drink…

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Review: Redemption Rye and High-Rye Bourbon (2011)

By Christopher Null | September 24, 2011 |

Distilled in Indiana and bottled in Bardstown, Kentucky, Redemption is part of a growing cadre of craft distillers who go guerrilla on getting their stuff produced (a la Angel’s Envy), releasing amazingly high-quality product at very affordable prices. At Redemption, the focus is obviously on increasingly popular rye. Redemption Rye Batch 027 (2011) – 95% rye,…

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