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: 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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Review: Masterson’s Straight Rye Whiskey 10 Years Old

By Christopher Null | September 15, 2011 |

100% rye: an oddity. 100% rye from Canada, blended with Colorado-sourced water, and bottled in Sonoma, California — a real oddity. Technically a Canadian whisky, this big rye is named after Old West lawman William “Bat” Masterson — a man who, somehow, has returned from the grave he entered in 1921 in order to put…

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Review: 1512 Barbershop Rye

By Christopher Null | September 6, 2011 |

The story behind 1512 is almost more interesting than this, its first product. Salvatore Cimino is a real barber in San Francisco, and his forebears include a series of whiskey bootleggers. So Cimino put the two together, in a way: With a legally produced whiskey named after his discreet Nob Hill barbershop. Cimino spends his…

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Review: High West Barreled Manhattan “The 36th Vote”

By Christopher Null | June 18, 2011 |

If a cocktail requires no fresh juices or other highly perishable ingredients, why not just bottle it outright? That’s the idea behind High West’s Barreled Manhattan: It’s a Manhattan cocktail pre-bottled and ready to go. Now this isn’t some rotgut nonsense, 10 percent alcohol bullshit in a single-serve bottle. It’s the real deal, and top…

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Review: Koval White Whiskeys, Rye, Millet Whiskey, and Ginger Liqueur

By Christopher Null | May 11, 2011 |

To call Koval Distillery an “artisan” operation would be the understatement of the year. Koval, based in Chicago, is a microdistillery of the bizarre: It takes organic, single grains — not just wheat and rye, but stuff like oats, millet, and spelt — and makes booze out of them. Bottled without aging (under the Koval…

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Tasting Report: Whiskies of the World Expo San Francisco 2011

By Christopher Null | April 2, 2011 |

The San Francisco Belle was packed but the crowds were manageable at this year’s San Francisco Whiskies of the World event. With much more room to move around than last year’s cramped fest, lots more seating, and plenty of whiskey, guests seemed to be having a great time, myself  included. Who knows what venue will…

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