Order Up A Classic Cocktail
Ryes rebirth is in many ways owed to the bartenders who re-popularized the spirit. I definitely think bartenders helped revive that, because its that constant search to have the cocktail the way it was originally made, says Taylor. When we go through these old recipe books and it calls for rye or it calls for a gomme syrup or this thing or that thing, we want to source it and make it the way it was originally supposed to be had.
As more bartenders began churning out old-school whiskey cocktails, rye became a frequent bar staple, and cocktails are often the best introductory tool to introduce a consumer to any kind of spirit or ingredient. It wasnt long before bar customers ordering up perfectly stirred Manhattans were also asking about the whiskey being used and then searching for it on store shelves to bring home.
Who Are Some Notable Rye Producers
There are a range of rye producers to explore, ranging from inexpensive and straightforward to pricey but with a kaleidoscopic range of flavors.
Perhaps the best place to start would be to look at what the professionals use many bars will stock their wells with either Old Overholt or Rittenhouse. Old O represents one of the oldest consistently produced rye brands in the country, and Rittenhouse packs a punch as a 100-proof Bottled in Bond product. Both are affordable, somewhat textbook ryes, great for trying out new cocktails ideas or relaxing into the evening with a tried and true classic.
Another notable old producer is Sazerac, produced at the famous Buffalo Trace Distillery. With an exactly 51% rye mash bill, Sazerac offers a gentler side of rye that works harmoniously in its eponymous New Orleans-based cocktail. Michters, hailing from Kentucky, makes a rather famous rye that offers one of the deepest, most layered expressions of the spirit at a fairly moderate price.
Beyond the classics are some newer producers, blending tradition and new ideas into some of the most exciting ryes available today. Redemption Rye, with a close to 100% rye mash bill, brings a heady bouquet of the spicy, peppery qualities most closely associated with the whiskey.
- Whistlepig Old World Rye
- Redemption Rye
- Sazerac Rye
Rittenhouse Rye 100 Proof
Staying in the USA, but raising the bar a little, I would choose Rittenhouse Rye 100 proof. This is a very aromatic rye and packs a good punch at 50% ABV. The typical rye flavours come through on the palate rather than the nose, with lots of fruity chocolate and orange flavours. Complex and spicy, this rye gives a more rounded flavour, rather than being overly spicy.
ABV: 50%Buy it now for £44.75
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Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye
Crown Royal is well-known for its high-quality blended whiskies. Its award-winning Northern Harvest Rye is a blend made with 90% rye grain. Its well-known for its mix of spicy rye and gentles sweetness that make it well-suited for slow sipping or mixing into your favorite cocktails.
This whisky is reasonably well-balanced but actually lighter on the rye spice than I would have hoped. Its definitely a good sipper though especially if youre not trying to get knocked out by black pepper.
Whiskey Grains : Barley
The best place to start is with traditional single malts. Historically speaking, Scotland and Ireland produce them but so do Japan and Australia. Regardless of where they are made, the common thread here is that they are all made entirely from barley . Comparing a light, unpeated single malt from Scotland, such as Glenfiddich, a Japanese single malt such as Nikka Miyagikyo, and Knappogue Castle and youll see that they all share a roasty, toffee-flavored cereal quality. Of course, other flavors and textures come through as their methodologies and environmental factors come into play. They do, however, share that benchmark flavor characteristic.
Knappogue Castle 12 Year / Photo Credit: Knappogue
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What Is Indiana Rye Whiskey
From the start of July 2021, Indiana Rye Whiskey has been a newly protected Whiskey category. Indiana distillers have won the right to own and regulate their unique style of Whiskey. The aim is to establish Indiana Rye in a similar way to how the state of Kentucky has promoted Bourbon.In order for a Whiskey to be called an Indiana Rye, it must be either a sour or sweet mash with at least 51% Rye as the base ingredient. The juice has to come off the stills at a maximum of 80% ABV and bottled at 40% ABV or above, and it must be mashed, fermented, distilled, and barrel-aged for a minimum of two years in Indiana.
Try before you buy! Before you commit to buying a full-size bottle, you can try this Bourbon-themed Tasting Box. Turn yourself into a confident sipper and discover Rye flavors with this Rye-themed Tasting Box.
Connect with a like-minded community and explore the contents of your Tasting Box with Flaviar-Exclusive guided tasting called Unboxing Flavors.
Balcones Rye 100 Proof
My final choice in the USA is a big step up in the world of rye. It is more expensive, but gives you a full on rye experience as it is made from 100% rye. This was created for the tenth anniversary of the Balcones distillery. Made with several different varieties of rye this whisky is complex and spicy with plenty of power from a heightened ABV. It is chocolatey with orange zest and honey, cinnamon and baked apples on the nose. The palate is even more complex and full-bodied with chocolate and tobacco joining the flavours. The finish is dark brown burnt sugar and hints of char and dry oak. Its one of my favourite rye whiskies.
ABV: 50%Buy it now for £67.25
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What Does Irish Whiskey Taste Like
Smooth and less sweet than bourbon. Doesnt have the smokiness usually associated with Scotch, although there are a few exceptions to that, and that lack of smokiness combined with the smoothness from the triple distillation, makes them easier to consume than Scotch.
Things to Consider: There are only 3 working distilleries in Ireland, however each of them make multiple spirits. For example there is the Midleton distillery which makes Redbreast, Midleton, Paddy, Powers, and Jameson and all of their individual brands variations. And remember, it isnt Irish Coffee unless you use Irish whiskey. Otherwise it is just a coffee with whiskey ).
What Is Rye Whisky
Rye whiskey is a type of whiskey that uses rye grains as its main ingredient. In the United States, rye whiskey must, . The other ingredients are usually corn or barley. Rye whiskey may sometimes be called Streight rye whiskey if it has been aged for at least two years and has not been blended with any other spirits.
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The 30 Best Rye Whiskey Brands
If youve only encountered rye whiskey in passing, you may still be familiar with two common descriptions of the spirit: that its bourbons spicier sibling, and that its crucial in the creation of a handful of classic cocktails. While these statements ring true, they also benefit from further elaboration.
The inclusion of rye in any mash bill indeed lends a spicy kick, but that characteristic can take on many forms, from savory spice, like caraway and black pepper, to sweet baking spices, such as cinnamon and cloves. Another distinguishing factor that defines many rye whiskeys is fresh, herbal notes think dill and mint. Though not always present, these notes complement the grains signature spice, but it would be a stretch to define them as spicy by nature.
On the cocktail front, its true that rye is vital for any properly made Manhattan or Sazerac, and competently takes the place of bourbon in an Old Fashioned or Boulevardier. But were it not for the revival of those cocktails, theres a high chance that rye would have continued down its path of dwindling popularity to reach near extinction by this point. In short: Rye is essential in these drinks but the drinks themselves are just as important in the whiskeys modern history.
Jp Wisers Triple Barrel Rye
Like Crown Royal, J.P. Wisers is known for its award-winning blended whiskies. One of its best is its Triple Barrel Rye. Made from whiskies aged in first-fill bourbon, used oak, and virgin oak barrels, its rich, mellow, and known for its sweetness to spice ratio as well as its low price.
This is a great rye for sipping and mixing. Its well balanced with caramel and vanilla notes that pair well with peppery rye. Well-suited for a Manhattan or another classic cocktail.
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What Is The Difference Between Rye And Bourbon
For the uninitiated, rye may seem like the assertive brother to bourbon. The two whiskies are commonly placed next to each other on liquor shop shelves and compared with similar levels of affection. So how are the two similar or, by the same token, how are they different?
As far as American styles go, the most apparent difference is in the mash bill. A mash bill is the blend of grains that gets initially fermented and eventually distilled. Bourbon requires a minimum of 51% corn for the mash bill, whereas rye requires the same percentage in rye grain.
The remaining amount of the mash bill is chosen at the discretion of the distiller, most choosing to fold in a variety of grains including barley or wheat.
This difference has a major impact on the final flavors, with corn providing a sweeter, more approachable taste and rye presenting a spicier, zippier, more assertive profile.
A major similarity between the two is the use of virgin charred oak barrels, which unite the two in many flavor compounds derived from the wood. These flavors, notably saturated by the previously unused barrels, include vanilla, molasses, cinnamon, anise, and a plethora more for the taster to identify.
How To Drink Rye Whiskey
Whistlepig Rye Whiskey
In our bourbon resources, we wrote extensively about how it should be drunk and outlined some essential grounds rules, which should be repeated here: There are none. Whiskey should be drunk only the way that you enjoy it.
The same applies to rye whiskey, too. After all, throughout most of their history, both beverages were very working-class produced out of practicality. Their gentrification is a relatively recent phenomenon. Therefore, any rules are hardly traditional and wouldnt be constituted as an insult to your ancestors.
Rye whiskey can be enjoyed like any other in a shot, tumbler, or nosing glass. A favourite among enthusiasts is the Glencairn glass that features a tulip shape that allows for nosing the whiskeys aromas but is practical enough to be handled like a tumbler.
Meanwhile, a shot glass is great for knocking it back if thats the way you enjoy it but you can still take small sips if you prefer. Finally, a tumbler is more convenient for adding ice.
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Best Bottles Of Bourbon To Try
- Makers Mark Bourbon: Makers Mark is a true classic in the world of Bourbon. It is smooth and approachable, with warm caramel aromas. Makers Mark is made slowly in small batches for ultimate smoothness and clarity of flavor.
- Woodford Reserve Bourbon: Woodford Reserve Bourbon is carefully hand-crafted in small batches. It offers sweet aromatics of spice, fruit, and floral notes, and on the palate, youll notice bold flavors of grain and wood.
- Basil Haydens Bourbon: Basil Haydens offers aromas of charred oak, with sweet notes of vanilla, caramel, and hints of dried fruit. When sipping, youll notice flavors of charred oak, sweet brown sugar, black pepper, and fruit. The finish is mellow, dry, and lingering.
What Does Single Malt Mean
Single malt is a term used to describe Scotch whisky made in a single Scottish distillery from 100% malted barley. A common misconception is that single malt Scotch comes from one batch and is never blended. Single malts can be blended from single malts of varying maturation, as long as they are produced in the same distillery.
Single malt scotch has the reputation for being superior to blended whiskies, and this perception has developed for a few different reasons. In the world of whisky, a single malt scotch represents the distillery and location where it was made. Its flavor profile is specific to the natural elements of the region, which includes the peat used for smoking the barley and the wood used to make the whisky barrels. This adds to the mystique and artisan-like feel of single malts.
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The Flavor: What Does Rye Taste Like Vs Bourbon
But the more important question is: what are the flavor differences between rye whiskey vs bourbon? In general, rye is known for its spicy finish and bourbon is a little sweeter and rounder. Of course, this does vary based on brand! Weve tasted a bourbon was grassy and grain-forward, followed by a rye that was bright with a sweeter body.
- Rye whiskey tastes grassy and peppery, with a signature spicy finish. Depending on the brand, there may may be notes of oak, smoke or fruit. Rye is generally spicier with a more aggressive flavor than bourbon.
- Bourbon whiskey typically has a sweeter, more mellow flavor than rye, with notes of vanilla, oak and caramel. But theres a wide variety of different flavors between bourbon brands: one expert breaks bourbons into 4 major categories: grain forward, nutmeg forward, caramel forward, and cinnamon forward.
Whats the difference vs Scotch? Read more at Bourbon vs Scotch.
The Difference Isnt Just Interpretation
What is the interpretation of rye whiskey vs. bourbon? Lets dig into that. Bourbon is a whiskey, but not all rye whiskeys are rye. By definition and law, rye whiskey has a strict set of standards from the U.S. Government that regulates the difference.
The U.S. federal law requires that all rye produced from a fermented mash of grain of at least 51% of its primary ingredient of rye. aged two years or more in new charred oak containers.
The history of bourbon
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What Is Scotch Whisky
Scotch whisky is, as its name suggests, whisky from Scotland. It can only be called Scotch if its made in Scotland similar to the likes of Cognac and Champagne. It is one of the most regulated spirits in the world, from how you make it to how you sell it. This makes it one of the most top-notch quality whiskies you can get out there. Wed tell you more about Scotch regions that include Highland, Lowland, Speyside, Islay, and more, but thats a long story for another day.
Main Difference Between Rye And Whiskey
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Best Under $: Ragtime
From Brooklyn’s New York Distilling Company, this bottling is made exclusively with New York state rye grain. Ragtime Rye is a craft spirit with a ton of character: its robust, warming, and filled with holiday spice. Marissa Mazzotta, bar director at The Shanty, the distillerys attached bar, recommends stretching it out with bubbly soda water in a Whiskey Highball, though it would also work in a strong, stirred drink like an aptly named Brooklyn. She also advises not to pass on the distillerys limited edition Applejack Barrel Finished Ragtime Rye. Its very versatile, with a slight hint of apple on the finish that perfectly compliments the big rye flavor, she says.
Who Defines These Things
A common set of definitions is important to make sure that you know exactly what youre getting. Here in the United States, the typical spirit varieties are defined in 27 CFR 5.22, but other countries may have their own specific definitions .
For most of the common types of spirits the definitions are pretty well consistent and agreed upon, but in some cases theres some funky differences and debates going on behind the scenes.
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The Value Of The Letter E
Both whiskey and whisky get their spellings from translations of the Gaelic term Uisce Beatha, meaning water of life. Its not entirely clear where the additional e came from. One theory is that Irish whiskey makers used the alternated spelling to differentiate themselves from lower-quality Scottish whiskies.
The spelling of the spirit also varies outside of Scotland and Ireland. Whiskey was introduced to America by the Irish, which is why in the United States, we call it whiskey, with an e. Canada abides by the Scottish whisky, as does Japanese whisky.
How About Japanese Whisky
Japanese whisky is a treat. You may notice that it follows suit with the Scottish and Canadians with the omittance of the letter “e.” This is because Suntorys first master distiller Masataka Taketsuru studied in Scotland and came to love the taste of Scottish whisky. The biggest Japanese whisky producers are Suntory and Nikka, the former of which has had some seriously cool commercials in the past. You can’t really pin Japanese whisky down to a specific style, but it’s generally Scotchy.
Japanese whisky tastes like: Scotch, sort of, but it really depends on the brand. One thing is for sure, they all taste like relaxing times.
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