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: James E. Pepper 1776 Bourbon, Rye, and 15 Year Old Expressions of Both

By Christopher Null | June 3, 2013 |

James E. Pepper is an old, old name in the whiskey world (Kentucky is plastered with the name), and the heritage of the Bourbon associated with the name is deep, rich, and (if you go to the whiskey’s website) fun to look back upon. In fact, Bourbon has been made under the James E. Pepper…

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Review: Widow Jane Rye Whiskey

By Christopher Null | May 24, 2013 |

I raved about Widow Jane’s Bourbon late last year. Now I’m taking on a new product: A 2 year old Rye made in Kentucky and finished, like its Bourbon, in Rosendale, NY using local mineral water from the Widow Jane Mine. Bottled unfiltered, you’ll notice a distinctly visible haze in this brilliant amber Rye —…

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Review: Angel’s Envy Rye Whiskey

By Christopher Null | April 12, 2013 |

Angel’s Envy is one of the best affordable Bourbons on the market, and now its mad master distiller, Lincoln Henderson, is raising expectations again with Angel’s Envy Rye, one of the best rye whiskeys on the market. The mashbill will likely sound familiar to regular readers — 95% rye and 5% malted barley — the…

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Review: Craft Distillers Low Gap White Rye and 2 Year Old Wheat Whiskey

By Christopher Null | March 16, 2013 |

We reviewed Craft Distillers’ Low Gap White Wheat Whiskey two years ago. Who knew that the company would radically broaden its horizons to launch plans for four different Low Gap whiskeys, a Wheat (previously reviewed), a Rye (reviewed below), a Bourbon (coming soon), and a mystery blend (coming after that)? Will a mere four white…

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Review: Hooker’s House Bourbon and Rye (2013)

By Christopher Null | February 8, 2013 |

Color me a bit of a skeptic. Hooker’s House label declares these whiskeys as “Sonoma Style,” as in the California wine country. Where they do not make whiskey. Right? Heck, HelloCello (aka Prohibition Spirits) — best known for its artisanal lemoncello (and other flavors) — makes this whiskey. What on earth do these guys know…

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Review: Finger Lakes Distilling McKenzie Rye and Bourbon Whiskey

By Christopher Null | February 6, 2013 |

Finger Lakes Distilling operates out of, you guessed it, the Finger Lakes region of New York, well known as an up-and-coming wine region but also a hotbed of craft distilleries, too. Finger Lakes makes two young whiskeys which we recently put to the taste test.  Both are 91 proof. McKenzie Bourbon Whiskey – Double-pot distilled…

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Review: Georgetown Trading Co. Pow-Wow Botanical Rye

By Christopher Null | January 2, 2013 |

From Georgetown Trading Company (the importer of the masterful John L. Sullivan Irish Whiskey), comes this extreme oddity — a flavored/infused rye whiskey. Flavored whiskeys are growing in popularity as a category, but they’re mainly Bourbon or Irish, and honey and cinnamon are the predominant flavoring agents. Pow-Wow Botanical Rye is a straight rye whiskey…

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Review: WhistlePig “TripleOne” 111 Straight Rye Whiskey 11 Years Old 2012

By Christopher Null | January 1, 2013 |

Since its release two years ago, WhistlePig has garnered a well-deserved reputation for producing one of the best 100% rye whiskeys in the biz — spicy, yet sweet and balanced. Now the company has upped the ante, with a slightly older (11 years instead of 10 years) and slightly hotter (111 proof instead of 100…

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journeyman rye

Review: Journeyman Ravenswood Rye Whiskey

By Christopher Null | November 15, 2012 |

Journeyman Distillery operates in Three Oaks, Michigan, where it makes a wide range of white spirits and this rye, its only “brown” liquor at present (though numerous more are on the way). Formerly made at the Koval Distillery, Journeyman is now making it at home. The mashbill is an unusual blend of Minnesota rye and…

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Notes from Domaine Select Wine Estates Pop-Up Tour, October 2012

By Christopher Null | November 3, 2012 |

Our friends at Domaine Select Wine Estates (which handles a lot more than wine) are on the road, “popping up” in a half-dozen cities to let their producers show off their wares. I recently dropped in on the San Francisco installment to experience a few wines that were new to me (1982 Borgogno Barolo, yes…

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