Rye Whiskey
 

Best Rye Whiskey

 

The Fifty Best Rye Whiskey Tasting 2021


The Tasting:
The Fifty Best held a “blind” tasting of 21 American rye whiskies with a panel of twelve judges. The order of service was established beforehand by lottery. Strict tasting rules were applied. The rye whiskies were poured into fresh glasses from new sealed bottles, and served at room temperature. Each of the whiskies were judged and scored separately. Only ice water, unflavored unsalted crackers and chips were available to cleanse the palate.

The judges wrote down their impressions of each product on score sheets. The scoring was done on a 5-point system, with 5 as the highest. Double-Gold, Gold and Silver medals were awarded according to a set range of final point scores received from the judges. There were no Bronze medals awarded for this tasting. Medals are provided based entirely on merit and only to products judged worthy of such award.

The tasting notes below are summaries of the judges’ opinions, with all replicated commentary eliminated. The distilleries, states of origin, alcohol proofs and other tidbits are identified for each brand. Clicking on the brands' names will link to their websites.

DOUBLE GOLD MEDAL WINNERS

Hillrock Estate Distillery Double Cask Rye Whiskey
(NY)  115° prf
Aged under 4 yrs in American oak casks
& finished in Owner’s Special Reserve Madeira casks.

Nose: Caramel, perfect hot chocolate, sweet molasses, dark sugar, deep cooked honey, dried fruit, raisins, blueberry, green apple, rye grain, coffee, spicy, mineral, leather, dried leaves, earth, oak, oak barrel, port barrel, rum, sherry, sweet dessert wine, complex.
Palate: Caramel, chocolate, sugar cane, dark sugars, roasted honey, raisins, dried cherry, dried fruit, cherry, black currant, apricot, stone fruit, sweet grains, rye flour, licorice, tea, pepper, glazed meat, leather, limestone, oak, woody, zesty, best in show.
Finish: Dark chocolate, vanilla, ripe toasted banana, tropical fruit, apricot, steeped black tea, basmati rice, rye, spice, pipe tobacco, oak, rich smoke, balanced, flavorful, nice heat, great length, good on the rocks, perfect.


Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal



Hillrock Estate Distillery Double Cask Rye Whiskey



Middle West Spirits Straight Rye Whiskey
(OH)  96° prf
Distilled from Dark Pumpernickel Rye. Aged over 3 yrs.
in new white American oak casks.

Nose: Toffee, caramel, cocoa, vanilla bean, vanilla, brown sugar, clover honey, dried fruits fruit leather,, cherry, dark plums, ripe banana, Golden Delicious apple, grains, walnut, leather, oak, port wine, complex.
Palate: Toffee, cocoa, sugar cane, dark sugar, nougat, banana, orange peel, apple, brown bread, rich walnut, roasted nuts, herbal rosemary, dried leaves, red pepper flakes, clove, spice, pepper, black peppercorn, leather, limestone, mineral, oak, wine notes, very well balanced, complex.
Finish: Dark chocolate, cocoa, honey, spicy, raisins, sweet cherry, tropical fruit, cinnamon, spice, pepper, limestone, mineral, dried leaves, wood, excellent length, bone dry, zesty, savory, gentle, love it in a Manhattan cocktail, great.


Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal



Middle West Spirits Straight Rye Whiskey



Stormy River Rye Whiskey
(JK Williams Distilling, IL)  Aged 4 yrs.  90° prf

Nose: Caramel, vanilla, white chocolate, maple, Orange Blossom honey, dried fruits, McIntosh apple, green apple, cherry, apricot, sweet, rye, toasty, walnut, clove, pickle, briny, pipe tobacco, old books, fresh birch wood, oak, cut wood, aromatic.
Palate: Caramel, toffee, buttery, sugarcane, maple, honey, honeycomb, dried fruit, apricot, white cherry, Graham Cracker, creamy oatmeal, toasted bread, grain, coffee, ginger, bitter melon, herbs, almonds, nutmeg, cinnamon, baking spice, good spice, white pepper, leather, oak, sherry, complex, smooth, zesty.
Finish: Honey, dried fruit, apricot, herbaceous, mint, clove, spicy, leather, toast, oaky, hint of barrel, char, well balanced, smooth, serious guy, drink neat.


Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal



Stormy River Rye Whiskey



GOLD MEDAL WINNERS


Monterey Rye
Small Batch No. 27

(Fog’s End Distillery, CA)  90° prf

Nose: Toffee, buttery, nougat, jelly bean, light vanilla, honey, dried orange peel, ripe banana, plantain, corn, popcorn, Golden Crisp cereal, cereal grain, wheat, rye, oats, walnut, peanut, roasted nuts, nutmeg, grassy, fern, spruce tree, new leather.
Palate: Toffee, white chocolate, ganache, buttery, brown butter, Cracker Jack, Confectioner’s sugar, honey, ripe banana, sweet banana, strawberry, grain, rye, toasted rye bread, sweet peanut, almond, raw Brazil nut, street nuts, cinnamon, leather, peat, oak.
Finish: Nougat, orange zest, walnut, light almond, nutty, allspice, spice, lingering honey malt, great neat, nice flavorful finish, creamy, smooth, velvet.


Gold Medal
Gold medal



Monterey Rye Small Batch No. 27



Broken Top Straight Rye Whiskey
(Cascade Spirits, OR)  Aged 2 yrs.  87.5° prf.

Nose: Caramel, toffee, brown sugar, cream, vanilla, honey, crisp apple, green apple, green apple skin, citrus, banana peel, herbal, rye, rye bread, wheat, grain, walnut, nutmeg, spicy, autumn, leaves, earth, grassy, mossy, wood, oak, smoky, sherry.
Palate: Caramel, sugar cane, brown sugar, vanilla, butter, cream, honey, caramelized apple, raisin, dried figs, fruit rollup, orange, bergamot, pear, ripe green apple, citrus, apricot, banana, banana bread, oats, cereal, nutty, rye, coffee, grounds, clove, cinnamon, baking spice, spicy, black pepper, tannin, oak, pine, woody, nicely balanced, very approachable.
Finish: Rye, wheat, nutmeg, cinnamon, clove, pepper, black pepper, wood, balanced, fiery, smooth, silky, easy to drink, easy sipper, very pleasant.


Gold Medal
Gold medal



Broken Top Straight Rye Whiskey



Shady Knoll Rye Whiskey
(Shady Knoll Orchards & Distillery, NY)  84° prf
Double distilled from local rye in a pot still.
Aged 3 yrs. in new oak barrels & used Port barrels.

Nose: Caramel, brown sugar, maple syrup, nougat, vanilla, cherry, orange, toasted bread, grain, rye grain, herbal, mint, nutmeg, allspice, winter spices, leather, light wood, new wood, new oak, pine, pine lumber, pinecone, rustic.
Palate: Caramel, toffee, dark chocolate, Mexican hot chocolate, nougat, slightly buttery sugar cane, vanilla, honey notes, dried fruit, baked apple, cherry, orange zest, rye, grain, black pepper, spicy, leather, cigar box, tree bark, oak, pine wood, soft.
Finish: Toffee, cocoa, maple, nougat, vanilla, clove, spicy, strong pepper notes, pipe tobacco, toasty, woody, lingers, drink neat, nice for a cocktail, really nice.


Gold Medal
Gold medal



Shady Knoll Rye Whiskey



Crostwater Rye Whiskey
(Holy Water Distillery, PA)  80° prf

Nose: Strong toffee, butterscotch, dark chocolate, Baker’s Chocolate, powdered cocoa, nougat, honey, ripe banana, dark plum, tropical fruits, wildflower, rye grain, sesame, peanut butter, walnuts, cashew, sweet nuts, nutty, slate, earth, oak.
Palate: Deep dark chocolate Hershey’s chocolate, , cocoa, toffee, butterscotch, caramel, buttery, creamy, sugar cane, vanilla, flour, pound cake brown bread, dark cherry, banana, papaya, pineapple, mint, walnuts, coffee, cinnamon, spice, white pepper, leather, slightly burnt, woodsy, oak.
Finish: Vanilla, creamy, lovely buttery, Graham Cracker, toasted almonds, clove, soft spice, black pepper, smoky, lingering earth, woody, good with a steak, mouth filing, smooth, velvety, nice, satisfying, an easy going rye.


Gold Medal
Gold medal



Crostwater Rye Whiskey



King’s Family Distillery
Ryeconic Straight Rye Whiskey

(Distilled in IN, bottled in TN)  109.4° prf
Aged 4 yrs,, then rebarreled into a grooved barrel
for an additional 1 yr. 5 ms.

Nose: Caramel, Baker’s Chocolate, milk chocolate, brown sugar, creamy, vanilla, dates, apricot, plums, cherry, stone fruit, herbs, walnuts, toasted almond, rye, grain, oatmeal, agave, cactus, mint, cinnamon, spice, black pepper, limestone, mineral, oak.
Palate: Honey, prunes, dried plums, plums, cherry, ripe berries, apricot, lots of fruit, Juicy Juice, cola, pumpernickel raisin, rye, herbs, mint, spearmint, clove, spice, pepper, black pepper, limestone, dried oak, creamy, nicely balanced, incredibly complex.
Finish: Milk chocolate, cocoa, vanilla, honey, lingering maple, light tea, clove, spicy, toast, oak, fresh, full flavor, well rounded, full on spice cocktail, zesty.


Gold Medal
Gold medal



King’s Family Distillery Ryeconic Straight Rye Whiskey



Treaty Oak Schenley Reserve Straight Rye Whiskey
(Treaty Oak Distilling, TX)  100° prf
Sourced from the last batch of rye whiskey from
the defunct Schenley Distillery in Canada. Aged 10 yrs.

Nose: Caramel, butterscotch, dark chocolate, vanilla, nougat, waffle, honey, sweet banana, apricot, ginger, hibiscus, floral, mint, herbal, sweet nuttiness, nuts, grain, dried leaves, pepper, spice, toasty, oaky.
Palate: Caramel, dark chocolate, cocoa, vanilla, creamy, buttery, nougat, honey, honeysuckle, lilac, strawberry, apricot, lychee, green apple, apple skins, corn, sweet grains, malt, nutty, herbs, tea leaves, wet grass, cinnamon, spicy, white pepper, black pepper, balanced, toasted, oak.
Finish: Prune, orange, ginger, sweet balsamic, floral, herbs, chicory, clove, spice, pepper, pink peppercorn, toasty, woody, complex, zesty, easy to drink, elegant.

Gold Medal
Gold medal



Treaty Oak Schenley Reserve Straight Rye Whiskey



Woodsmen Bull Rye Whiskey
(Woodsmen Distillery, MO)  80° prf
Aged in uniquely charred barrels made at the distillery’s
own cooperage.

Nose: Toffee, caramel, vanilla, light brown sugar, maple syrup, clover honey, cherry, green apple, lemon, mint, ginger, anise, grains, almond, coffee, clove, spice, black pepper, sawdust, cedar, oak, white oak.
Palate: Caramel, butterscotch, vanilla, sweet molasses, honey, clover honey, Maraschino cherries, dried cherry, dried fruit, apricot, apple, herbs, anise, walnuts, nutty, clove, cinnamon, baking spices, white peppercorn, toasted, woody notes, oak, well balanced, approachable.
Finish: Orange peel, papaya, lingering honeycomb, cocoa, walnut, almond, nutmeg, spicy, light oak, nice, clean, soft, very smooth, pleasant, elegant.


Gold Medal
Gold medal



Woodsmen Bull Rye Whiskey



Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Straight Rye Whiskey
(Jack Daniel’s Distillery, TN)  90° prf
Distilled from 70% rye. Sugar maple charcoal filtered.
Aged in new American oak barrels.

Nose: Caramel, chocolate covered cherry, honey, dark raisin, dried fruit, roasted apple, ripe banana, pear, sour apple, light lemon, jasmine, very floral, rye grain, wheat, dried leather.
Palate: Toffee, nougat, sugar cane, maple, vanilla, honey, black forest cake, cherry Now or Later taffy, strawberry, ripe banana, apricot, dried apple, green apple, ginger, rye grain, cinnamon, spice, pepper, black pepper, light sea salt, sweet nuttiness, oak, sherry, zesty, classic.
Finish: Vanilla, honey, honeysuckle, orange, green apple, slightly spicy, pepper, mineral, limestone, lingering cherry cordial, Jack Daniel’s, complex, unique, creamy, silky, nice, lovely.


Gold Medal
Gold medal



Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Straight Rye Whiskey



SILVER MEDAL WINNERS

King’s Family Distillery Straight Rye Whiskey
(Distilled in IN, bottled in TN)  90° prf

Nose: Toffee, caramel, buttery, nougat, maple, dried fruit, apricot, muted plum, floral, bergamot tea, herbs, grain notes, toasted mixed nuts, lemon oil, oiled leather, fresh linseed oil, leather, toasty, oak, cedar, woody.
Palate: Caramel, chocolate, cocoa, maple, Juicy Juice, apple, green apple, orange, grapes, buttered brown bread, sorghum, herbs, mint, ginger, roasted nuts, cinnamon, clove, oregano, spice, sea salt, briny, cedar, oak, well balanced, wine, sherry, cognac notes, nice, smooth.
Finish: Caramel, dried fruit, dates, green apple candy, grain, rye, thyme, spicy, white peppercorn, black pepper, mineral, oaky, nice, soft, creamy, elegant, happy to drink over ice, checks all the boxes, amazing.


Silver Medal
Silver medal



King’s Family Distillery Straight Rye Whiskey



Standard Proof Straight Rye Whiskey
(Standard Proof Whiskey Co., TN)   80° prf
Double distilled from local rye in a pot still.
Aged 3 yrs. in new oak barrels & used Port barrels.

Nose: Cherry, dried fruit, honeycomb, brown sugar, dark sugar, rye flour, wheat, toast, herbal, mint, new cut grass, ginger, chive, tobacco, leather, earth, fertile soil, new oak, wood, old barrel, charred barrel.
Palate: Ripe black cherries, raisins, stone fruit, green apple, lime skin, ginger, honey, molasses, herbal, rye, walnut, nutty, malt, coffee notes, nutmeg, clove, black pepper, peppery, spicy, earthy, limestone, mineral, oak, sherry, classic rye.
Finish: Raisin, malt, slight anise, grass, floral, pink peppercorn, spicy, mineral, earthy, vibrant wood, lingering oak, soft, a good mixer.


Silver Medal
Silver medal



Standard Proof Straight Rye Whiskey



Axe and the Oak
Colorado Mountain Incline Rye Whiskey

(Axe and the Oak Distillery, CO)  97° prf
Aged less than 2 yrs. in American white oak barrels.

Nose: Caramel, praline, cane sugar, powdered sugar, honey, vanilla, butter, buttered toast, green apple, citrus, rye, rye flour, grainy, malted barley, peaty, leather, whetstone, slate, bamboo, oak, rum-like, lively, pleasant.
Palate: Praline, cocoa, sugar cane, nougat, Skittles, marzipan, fresh cake, honey, dates, dried fruit, stone fruit, currants, berries, green apple, lime oil, ginger, mint, rye, grain, toast, buttery toast, walnuts, clove, spice, black peppercorn, pepper, wood, oak, mouth filling, smooth, mellow.
Finish: Toffee, creamy, buttery, vanilla, molasses, honey, dark raisin, rye, grain, nutty, Amsterdam Brown café, hints of genever, spicy, limestone, subtle oak, balanced, nice, zesty, great for cocktails, delicious.


Silver Medal
Silver medal



Axe and the Oak Colorado Mountain Incline Rye Whiskey



Tommy Bahama Rye Whisky and Rum
(Coral Cay Distilling, WA)  93° prf
Aged min 4 yrs. in American oak. Blended with 22% Caribbean
& So. American rums aged 8 yrs. in ex-bourbon barrels.

Nose: Dark chocolate, buttery, corn, cane sugar, molasses, maple, honey, dried fruit, ripe banana, apricot, orange peel, green apple, herbaceous, black tea, Brazil nuts, grain, hay, oak.
Palate: Chocolate, sugar cane, honey, dried mango, ripe banana, apricot, peach, dried strawberry, cherry bomb, plum, orange, apple, mint, herbs, walnut, cinnamon, hint of spice, pepper, pink peppercorn, oaky, Speyside scotch, creamy, zesty.
Finish: Dark chocolate, vanilla, marzipan, honey, dried fruit, apricot, melon, green apple, orange, black tea, nutty, spicy, white pepper, lingering pepper, amaro, fresh, nice, smooth, easy to drink.


Silver Medal
Silver medal



Tommy Bahama Rye Whisky and Rum



Rye Knot Rye Whiskey
(Saint Lawrence Spirits, NY)  92° prf
Distilled from 100% NY State rye.

Nose: Caramel, prune, blackberry, green apple, green pepper, rye grain, rye flour, toast, dry oatmeal, almond extract, herbs, nutmeg, spice, dried leather, earth, woody, new wood, oak, sweet oak, pine, cut pine.
Palate: Toffee, cherry vanilla, sugar cane, dark sugar, honey, raisins, prune juice, green apple, citrus, mixed herbs, dried herbs, mint, black tea, black walnut, , rye, grain, clove, spice, baking spices, pink peppercorn, tannins, mineral, earth, leather, cigar box, woody, nice toasted oak, cedar, sherry, fresh, zesty.
Finish: Bitter chocolate, vanilla, lingering maple syrup, dried lime slices, hint of bok choy, herbal, nice allspice, clove, spice, peppery, black pepper, mineral, zesty, nice balance.


Silver Medal
Silver medal



Rye Knot Rye Whiskey



Defiant 100% Malted Rye Whisky
(Blue Ridge Distilling Co., NC)  92° prf
Distilled from 100% rye. Aged in American toasted
white oak barrels.

Nose: Caramel, toffee, clotted cream, chocolate, honey, raisin, cherry, dried red apple, stone fruit, sweet pepper, floral, spicy, bread, earth, smoke, char, burnt wood, woody, oak, cedar.
Palate: Caramel, spiced chocolate, brown sugar, honey, raisin, cherry, cherry cola, floral, elderflower, rye, grain, herbs, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking spice, spicy, black pepper, dried leaves, cedar, oak, smooth, creamy, big, rich.
Finish: Rye bread, rye, apple, floral, clove, black pepper, peppery, spicy, oak, rich, smooth.


Silver Medal
Silver medal



Defiant 100% Malted Rye Whisky



High Peaks Landrace
Straight Empire Rye Whiskey

(High Peaks Distilling, NY)  84° prf
Distilled from 100% local landrace rye.
Aged for 2 or more yrs. in new charred oak barrels.

Nose: Honey, lemon, unripe melon, grain, toasted grain, bread, warm nuts, earth, char, smoke, spiced wood, wood barrel, oak, cedar.
Palate: Caramel, vanilla, raisin, dried apple, sweet plantains, orange, citrus, anise, malt, rye, rye bread, cinnamon, spice, peppery, peat, char, wood, oak, cedar, smooth.
Finish: Sweet caramel, lemony, roasted almonds, nutty, char, wood, oak, soft, flavorful.


Silver Medal
Silver medal



High Peaks Landrace Straight Empire Rye Whiskey



Doc Swinson’s Alter Ego
Straight Rye Whiskey

(Distilled in IN, finished & bottled in WA)  95° prf
A blend of rye whiskies aged for up to 6 yrs.
Finished in Caribbean rum casks using the Solera method.

Nose: Toffee, caramel, cocoa, vanilla, nougat, maple, honey, dried fruit, apricot, floral, subtle mint, clove, leather, earthy, popsicle stick, light pine, oak.
Palate: Vanilla, buttery, nougat, maple, Golden Grahams cereal, candied apricot, dried apricot, apricot, peach, banana, cherry, red grapes, orange zest, hint of mint, rye, grains, toasted bread, almond, walnut, clove, cinnamon, black pepper, peaty, char, sweet oak, light creaminess, nicely blended, smooth.
Finish: Vanilla, dried fruit, sugared nuts, nutmeg, clove, peppery, port cask, sherry cask, well balanced, good length, nice lingering finish, smooth, round, zesty, flavorful, no complaints.


Silver Medal
Silver medal



Doc Swinson’s Alter Ego Straight Rye Whiskey



Moon’s Best Straight Rye Whiskey
(Dented Brick Distillery, UT)  90° prf
Distilled from 100% locally grown rye.

Nose: Caramel, vanilla, honey, dried fruit, faint banana, cherry, citrus, lemongrass, mint, ginger, rye grain, rye toast, almond, clove, nutmeg, baking spice, black pepper, muted leather, very old oak, oak wood.
Palate: Caramel, dark chocolate, cocoa, milk chocolate, cream, nougat, malt syrup, strawberry, green apple, orange zest, lime skin, citrus, herbal, mint, nutty, cinnamon, pink peppercorn, pepper, limestone, oak, sherry, zesty.
Finish: Cocoa, honey, ripe banana, hint of mint, dried grass, black tea, licorice, sweet almond, walnut, rye, baking spice, pepper, mineral, balanced, soft, smooth.


Silver Medal
Silver medal



Moon’s Best Straight Rye Whiskey

 



The Rye Whiskey Revival

 

Historically, rye whiskey was the favored grain of the East Coast. George Washington even had the largest rye whiskey distillery in early America on his Virginia estate. By the 1780s, around 5,000 log still houses were operating in Pennsylvania and Maryland producing the whiskey that came to be known as “rye”. Mostly by German immigrants that had been using rye in the production of schnapps and vodka back in northern Europe.

Two different styles of rye whiskey developed during the colonial era: Pennsylvania or Monongahela-style, and Maryland-style rye. Since the bulk transportation of large amounts of grain was not practical during this era, the distillers made whiskey from the grain grown on their farm or from grains grown nearby. Corn was not generally native north of the southern edge of Pennsylvania; so the distillers made rye whiskey with no corn in it. Monongahela Rye was known for its ultra-high rye content and its full-bodied and spicy nature. Distillers operating in the southern part of America made Maryland style rye, a mixture of rye with some corn. The rye content in Maryland style rye tended to be about 65%, and it was notably sweeter and more mellow than its northern cousin.

Since the still was essentially a piece of farm equipment, it should be no surprise that by the late 1700’s, there were literally thousands of small grain distilleries each in New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Maryland. It is estimated that there were between 14,000 and 20,000 distilleries operating in the United States between 1810 and 1840. Rye was the most prevalent grain in colonial America. It was considerably more hardy than barley, and much easier to grow. Corn, or maize, was native to America, but only south of the Mason-Dixon line, and most of the population was to the north.

While the center of population in the United States remained east of the Appalachian Mountains, rye whiskey flourished. Shipping routes in the east favored rye whiskey over its cousin from Kentucky. The only major shipping routes for bourbon were down the river to New Orleans or overland through the mountains. As such, rye whiskey was the main style of whiskey consumed in the United States from the end of the Civil War until prohibition.

Back in the 1880’s, saloons were all the rage. There were thousands of them in the old American west. Much of the liquor sold were pretty mean homemade concoctions called rotgut or Firewater, (sometimes made with raw alcohol, burnt sugar and a little chewing tobacco), but the majority of saloons “imported” rye whiskeys from the Eastern states for their regular customers. Rye was not sold in "shots". It was sold in a small glass which normally held a gill (4 ounces) and cost a nickel. This price could be much higher in cities or for big name brand liquors. For example, a good quality bottle of rye whiskey in a nice hotel might be as much as 2 dollars. Rye was usually served straight, but the distinctive flavor made it a perfect mixer during the early years of the cocktail. Three of the most popular classic cocktails were originally created for rye whiskey — the Old Fashioned, the Manhattan & the Sazerac.

Before the Prohibition, there were over 50 brands of rye. When Prohibition outlawed the manufacture and sale of alcoholic beverages in 1920, many enterprising residents of small towns across America chose to become outlaws – They produced thousands of kegs per month, supplying Al Capone and other gangs who in turn filled the demand of speakeasies throughout Chicago, New York and all the way west to San Francisco.

By the time Prohibition ended, most American whiskey distilleries had ceased production. The few that existed were put at a massive competitive disadvantage to imported aged spirits. Boatloads of well-aged Scotch and Irish whiskies were waiting offshore in the northeast, truckloads of aged Canadian Whiskey were waiting to cross the border from Canada and ships full of mature rum were waiting in the Caribbean. The astute American distiller quickly realized that when getting back into the business, they would not be able to compete on quality, so they would have to compete on price.

The bourbon distilleries in Kentucky were better situated to build large facilities to garner economy of scale. There was plenty of land and a very well-developed rail system. Conversely, most of the rye distilleries in the east were on small farm plots with poor infrastructure and were not well funded. Additionally, the first farm subsidy bill supported corn but not rye. As a result, it was reborn in 2006. For the first time in 87 years, modern pioneers across the country dusted off old family records, recreating great grandpa's handed-down recipes and started producing rye whiskies deeply rooted in tradition. A decade ago in this country there were only six brands of rye. Now you can find over 400 brands, and rye whiskey has once again become one of the most popular go-to craft spirits. North American farmers are now seeing their largest rye crop in years as whiskey sales soar.

Rye has riden the rise in popularity of American whiskeys, growing in volume sales by 536% since 2009. According to the Distilled Spirits Council (Discus), sales volumes for rye whiskey rose by more than 1,000 percent between 2009 and 2018. And rye continues to be an important component of the overall American whiskey category. In 2019, sales increased 14.7% or $30 million, reaching $235 million.

Rye whiskey is made from fermented mashed grain that is at reborn in 2006. For the first time in 87 years, modern pioneers across the country dusted off old family records, recreating great grandpa's handed-down recipes and started producing rye whiskies deeply rooted in tradition. A decade ago in this country there were only six brands of rye. Now you can find over 400 brands, and rye whiskey has once again become one of the most popular go-to craft spirits. North American farmers are now seeing their largest rye crop in years as whiskey sales soar.

Rye has riden the rise in popularity of American whiskeys, growing in volume sales by 536% since 2009. According to the Distilled Spirits Council (DISCUS), sales volumes for rye whiskey rose by more than 1,000 percent between 2009 and 2018. And rye continues to be an important component of the overall American whiskey category. In 2019, sales increased 14.7% or $30 million, reaching $235 million.

Rye whiskey is made from fermented mashed grain that is at least 51% rye grain by law, sometimes with barley, corn and other grains blended in. Many of the newer, small-batch brands use 100% rye. Ryes must be distilled at less than 80% ABV (160 proof), and aged in new, charred oak barrels, used one-time only. Ryes labeled as "straight" must be aged for at least two years.

Rye whiskies are typically dry, peppery, and grainy, with complex flavors bursting with fruit, walnuts, and spice. This distinctly bold assertive character is embraced by a dedicated and continuously growing following of discerning whiskey fans.

 

 

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