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: Bulleit Rye

By Christopher Null | March 13, 2011 |

Tom Bulleit‘s “frontier” Bourbon has near-cult status among his admirers, and at long last the man has decided to branch out into a second product. That product is Bulleit Rye, “the worst kept secret” in the whiskey world and a smashing way for Bulleit to double its shelf space. Now this isn’t as big a…

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Review: High West Double Rye!

By Christopher Null | February 5, 2011 |

There is indeed an exclamation point in the official name of High West Whiskey’s latest, cryptic release. I’m not sure how Utah-based High West manages to mix cowboy imagery and metaphors with next-gen, experimental spirit-making technology, but somehow it does. The company now has about a dozen liquors, mostly whiskey, and we’ve gotten our hands…

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Review: WhistlePig Straight Rye Whiskey 10 Years Old

By Christopher Null | December 7, 2010 |

A whistle-pig is another name for a groundhog. It is now also a compelling straight rye whiskey from Vermont — hardly the first state that comes to mind when you talk whiskey. When they say straight rye, they mean it. WhistlePig is a rare 100% rye, aged for 10 years and bottled at 100 proof.…

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Review: Buffalo Trace Antique Collection 2010 Edition

By Christopher Null | October 19, 2010 |

For the third year running, we’re fortunate enough to check out Buffalo Trace’s limited release editions of five highly-sought-after whiskeys. No change to the lineup, name-wise, from the 2008 and 2009 editions, although what’s inside the bottles is, as always, just a little bit different. On the whole, this year’s whiskeys, in fact, are some…

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Tasting the Wild Turkey Whiskey Lineup with Eddie and Jimmy Russell (2010)

By Christopher Null | June 18, 2010 |

I had the pleasure to be led through Wild Turkey’s six whiskeys, courtesy of an online tasting with Jimmy Russell (of “Russell’s Reserve” fame) and his son Eddie Russell, the two men responsible for distilling Wild Turkey today at Austin Nichols distillery. Both of the new Russell’s Reserve whiskeys have been re-released in new packaging…

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Review: Buffalo Trace Antique Collection 2009 Edition

By Christopher Null | September 27, 2009 |

Once again Buffalo Trace brings us five limited-edition whiskeys, and for 2009 they carry the same names as last year. However, the formulations and barrels from which these whiskeys have been drawn are different, making them unique expressions that you’ll only get in 2009… and while supplies last. Sazerac Rye 18 Years Old 2009 –…

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Review: Templeton Rye (2009)

By Christopher Null | March 19, 2009 |

If they were drinking whiskey this good back in the Prohibition days, I don’t feel so bad for them after all. Templeton was a purported favorite of Al Capone and “the center of his bootlegging empire,” Templeton Rye is a killer whiskey that — if marketing is to be believed — has been being produced…

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Review: (ri)1 Rye Whiskey

By Christopher Null | November 10, 2008 |

Just so I can get it down, officially, the full, official name of this product is (rî)¹. Actually, that’s a cheat, because there’s no symbol for a “long lowercase I” — an i with a horizontal bar instead of a dot — that the web can render, at least not that I know of. So…

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Review: Buffalo Trace Antique Collection 2008 Edition

By Christopher Null | October 20, 2008 |

Each year the distilling masters at Buffalo Trace release limited-release whiskeys that connoisseurs will want to seek out. This year’s five whiskeys, rarities that may not see store shelves come 2009, are all worth exploring in depth. Some notes on each of the five (all officially 2008 releases) follow. (They are pictured in the order…

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Review: Russell’s Reserve Rye (2007)

By Christopher Null | November 1, 2007 |

There’s a dearth of good, affordable rye whiskey on the market. While I swear by Old Overholt, I welcome competition in the form of Russell’s Reserve (from the same folks that make Wild Turkey), a rye that, at $25, isn’t as cheap as Overholt but isn’t in the stratosphere like some high-end bottlings. Russell’s is…

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