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: Smooth Ambler Old Scout Single Barrel Rye and Port Cask Finish Rye

By Drew Beard | November 11, 2021 |

Earlier this month, we reviewed the reborn Old Scout Single Barrel Bourbon, which died an untimely death, along with the standard Old Scout Bourbon, when the distillery ran out of sourced MGP stock in 2016. That wasn’t the only casualty of Smooth Ambler’s shortage. There was also an Old Scout Rye (MGP’s beloved 95/5 mashbill)…

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Review: Nashville Barrel Co. Single Barrel Rye, Bourbon, and Rum

By Drew Beard | November 10, 2021 |

Earlier this year, David introduced you to Nashville Barrel Co., a new, non-distilling producer based out of Nashville’s Railyard District that offers an impressive portfolio of single barrel whiskeys and rum, as well as a small batch rye, the second batch of which thoroughly impressed us over at Drinkhacker HQ. In addition to their own…

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Review: Buzzard’s Roost Straight Rye – Toasted Barrel and Peated Barrel

By Christopher Null | October 29, 2021 |

It’s been over a year since Drew reviewed our first expression from Buzzard’s Roost, a single barrel bottling from this increasingly prolific producer. (It now sports six different expressions of “sippin’ whiskey,” all rye originally sourced from MGP. Age information is available, but the bottles carry no formal age statements and no data on how…

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Review: New Riff Malted Rye 6 Years Old

By Christopher Null | October 26, 2021 |

The hits keep coming from the maniacs at Kentucky’s New Riff, which for its next trick has dropped the oldest age-statemented whiskey in its lineup to date, a 6 year old bottling made from 100% malted rye. Malted rye is uncommon but not unheard of in whiskey these days. Making it essentially follows the same…

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Review: Buffalo Trace Antique Collection 2021 Edition

By Christopher Null | October 16, 2021 |

By now you’ve surely heard the news. This year there will be no George Stagg release, with Buffalo Trace declaring that the barrels it pulled (from 2006 distillate) “did not meet the Stagg profile today.” The good news is that it still leaves four horsemen remaining in the Antique Collection, and these whiskeys are always…

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Review: High West Rendezvous Rye

By Christopher Null | October 13, 2021 |

Imagine my surprise to discover that we had never formally reviewed High West’s iconic Rendezvous Rye — despite having tasted it at events at least four times. Rendezvous is a whiskey, much like most of High West’s production, that changes over time. At present it’s a blend of “older” straight rye whiskeys ranging in age…

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Review: Crown Royal Noble Collection Rye 16 Years Old

By Christopher Null | October 11, 2021 |

Crown Royal’s latest Noble Collection release eschews tricks and keeps it simple, bottling a straight rye at the age of 16 years. Bold butterscotch and brown banana notes lead the way on the nose here, though the sweetness quickly blows off and leaves more savory elements behind — bacon fat and some black pepper emerging…

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Review: Sagamore Spirit Rye Tequila Finish

By Christopher Null | October 8, 2021 |

Baltimore’s Sagamore Spirit continues its ambitious yet strange finishing program with a new Distiller’s Select release that sees its straight rye whiskey finished in extra anejo tequila barrels. There’ s no word on how long the spirit is finished (or even how old it is before going into the tequila cask), or the name of…

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Review: Ammunition Wines, Bourbon, and Rye

By Christopher Null | October 1, 2021 |

Windsor, California-based Daylight Wine & Spirits is a rare operation that includes both winemaking and distillation operations. The two are interlinked: Its recent whiskeys are sourced products (both from MGP) that are finished in Daylight’s own wine barrels. Everything is bottled under the brand name of Ammunition (with some spin-off labels also in the mix).…

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Review: WhistlePig Roadstock Rye and Farmstock Beyond Bonded Rye and Bourbon

By Christopher Null | September 26, 2021 |

WhistlePig has been on an absolute tear lately, firing out new expressions left and right to the point where it’s hard to keep up. Today we’re looking at three new releases from the Vermont operation, including a unique rye and a matched pair of 101-proof whiskeys, one rye and one bourbon (bourbon! from WhistlePig!). Let’s…

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