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: Coalition Rye Barrel Proof

By Drew Beard | April 24, 2021 |

Coalition Rye is a spanking new brand from Kentucky Artisan Distillers (KAD) in Crestwood, Kentucky. You may know KAD as the spiritual home of Jefferson’s Bourbon, although to date only special finishes and wood experiments occur there while the whiskey used in Jefferson’s releases is distilled elsewhere. KAD does distill inhouse, however, and the Coalition…

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Jackie Zykan

Diversity, Data, and Change in Bourbon: An Interview with Old Forester’s Jackie Zykan

By David Tao | April 23, 2021 |

Old Forester’s Jackie Zykan is one of Kentucky bourbon’s most recognizable names. During her six-year tenure with the brand, Zykan has been equal parts whiskey maker and whiskey educator, giving numerous interviews and social media looks into her day-to-day as Old Forester’s Master Taster. And she’s notched more than a couple important milestones along the…

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Review: Lost Lantern Single Cask #3: New York Distilling Rye Finished in Apple Brandy Cask

By Christopher Null | March 11, 2021 |

Lost Lantern got its start by putting together a wild blend of American craft distillery whiskeys, but lately it’s setting its feet further afield, offering single cask releases of non-blended stock from a variety of distilleries. Today we’re looking at the third release in Lost Lantern’s lineup, which got its start as a straight rye…

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Review: Five Mile Mountain Rye 105

By Drew Beard | March 9, 2021 |

The hip little mountain town of Floyd, Virginia (famous for the annual FloydFest music festival) has a storied moonshining history. It sits next to Franklin County, dubbed “the moonshine capital of the world,” but according to the owners of Five Mile Mountain Distillery, Floyd was actually the larger producer during Prohibition. The distillery even gets…

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Review: The Clover Single Barrel Bourbon and Rye

By Drew Beard | February 27, 2021 |

Last summer, we introduced you to The Clover, a line of sourced single barrel whiskeys named for famed golfer Bobby Jones and the good luck charm he wore in every tournament. We were impressed with the 10-year-old Tennessee offering, but the lineup also includes a sourced bourbon and rye expression (presumably from MGP). Read on…

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Review: Doc Swinson’s Alter Ego Bourbon, Alter Ego Rye, and Bourbon 15 Years Old

By Christopher Null | February 22, 2021 |

The Doc Swinson’s Collection is a new brand that’s been making serious waves since it hit the scene. This non-distilling producer’s story begins like many, with the discovery of a few barrels of good bourbon that the company bottled up and sold. Since then, Doc Swinson’s has started bottling older and older stock, and —…

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Review: Copper Fox Inauguration Rye

By Drew Beard | February 18, 2021 |

A handful of craft distillers across the country commemorated the recent presidential inauguration with a special spirits release. Virginia’s Copper Fox Distillery used the moment as an excuse to release its first ever cask strength whisky, dubbed Inauguration Rye. While this is the distillery’s first inauguration release, going forward there are plans to set aside…

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Review: Graverobber Unholy Maple Syrup Flavored Rye

By Christopher Null | February 12, 2021 |

Whoops: Graverobber Unholy Rye, from New Hampshire-based Tamworth Distilling, is intended as an annual autumn release, and here it is, February! That’s on us, but all the same here’s a look at this flavored rye (distilled here, not sourced), which is “infused with maple syrup tapped from graveside maple trees.” Maple-flavored whiskey is great, but…

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Review: Castle & Key Restoration Rye – Batch 1 & 2

By Rob Theakston | February 12, 2021 |

It is finally here. After numerous stop-starts, years of restoration, courtroom battles, personnel changes, delicious gins, waiting for the barrels to age with great patience, and lord knows what else to which the public is unaware, we have whiskey from Castle & Key. For those not watching along at home, allow us to catch you…

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Review: JK Williams Gold Zephyr Bourbon and Stormy River Rye

By Christopher Null | February 8, 2021 |

Did you know: Before 1837 and 1919, Peoria, Illinois was home to 73 distilleries and 24 breweries and was known as the Whiskey Capital of the World. Before Prohibition, Peoria paid more liquor tax than anywhere else. JK Williams was a Peoria-based bootlegger of the time, and last year Andy Faris and Stacy Shunk purchased…

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