Best Value: Whistlepig Piggyback Rye
Courtesy of Total Wine
Region: Canada, Vermont | ABV: 48.28% | Tasting Notes: Cocoa, Cardamom, Leather
WhistlePig is known for releasing some expensive rye whiskeys, but a few years ago the distillery launched this lower-priced, six-year-old whiskey sourced from Canada. Its a good value bottle that provides ample flavor and a higher ABV which works well in cocktails.
The 100 percent rye mash bill whiskey is aged to a minimum of six years, says Joshua Lopez of American Social in Florida. It has a bit of heat, but nothing that hangs around too long. Prominent flavors I get are cardamom, baking spices with hints of citrus, and primarily grapefruit and orange. My preferred way to drink PiggyBack is on a large ice cube, or neat with a few drops of water. It also makes a great Boulevardier with the citrus in the whiskey pairing perfectly with the Campari.
Region: Tennessee, Indiana | ABV: 50% | Tasting Notes: Caramel, Cinnamon, Vanilla
This new brand from Tennessee sources barrels , and blends them together back in Nashville. The second batch of the rye is a favorite of Mike Vacheresse, owner of Travel Bar in Brooklyn. A blend of four and eight-year-old MGP whiskey, this is a pleasant sipping rye, he says. Also, any Nashville Barrel Company single barrel picks that you see, I would highly recommend picking them up.
Bar Catering In Dallas: Rye Whiskey
Spice is the dominant flavor in Rye Whiskey, though the essence of different fruits will also make an appearance. Rye Whiskey has a spicy taste that has been described as a hard-edged version of bourbon. Most will agree that rye produces a bit of a bite, in a good way. Taste this full-bodied whiskey for yourself. There are two different types of Rye Whiskey: American Rye Whiskey and Canadian Whisky.
To earn the name of American Rye Whiskey, the beverage must be distilled from at least 51% rye grain. Often, various amounts of barley and corn are added to the rye. When aged for two full years, American Rye Whiskey can be labeled Straight.
Canadian Whisky is the second type of Rye Whiskey. There are no strict rules defining what goes into Canadian Whisky, so it may be made from any grain, as long as it has a bit of rye and smells, tastes and has the traditional characteristics of Canadian Whisky. Only one producer in the world, Canadas renown Alberta Premium, uses 100% rye mash in their Canadian Whisky. The loose definition of Canadian Whisky results in many different tastes within this category. A trained Mixologist can help you uncover which whiskeys suit you best.
A History Of Rye Whiskey
American Rye Whiskey was first distilled sometime in the late 1700s. It became popular very quickly, particularly in Pennsylvania and Maryland, where it was the most common whiskey consumed.
In the early years of rye whiskey production, most distilleries were located in Pennsylvania. Historians claim that Pennsylvania farmers were selling one half barrel of rye whiskey for each person in the country by 1808. By the late 19th century, Pennsylvania was producing 10s of thousands of barrels each year.
However, the popularity of rye whiskey declined after the prohibition-era as drinkers turned to softer spirits that were easier to drink, like bourbon, vodka, rum, and gin. Many of the original rye whiskey distillers disappeared, although some older brands like Old Overholt managed to survive.
Since the beginning of the 21st century, there has been a renewed interest in rye whiskey. As a result, it is now much easier to find rye whiskey and there are many brands selling popular rye whiskey products.
- Bulleit Rye
- Thomas H. Handy
Several American distilleries have also been experimenting with rye whiskey in recent years, creating un-aged and lightly aged products. A handful of smaller distilleries have even created distilleries that produce rye whiskey using the same processes as distilleries in the 1700s.
Canadian whisky is often labeled rye whisky because historically virtually all whiskeys were produced using a mash containing some rye.
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Rye Whiskey: The Original American Spirit
Rye whiskey is the original American spirit. Rye grows best in the humid and warm climate of the Mid-Atlantic colonies, where corn, wheat and barley are less prolific. As a result, rye was often the primary ingredient in the whiskey produced by the 17th and 18th century farmers. Rye is not indigenous to North America, early European colonists brought the grain, along with their knowledge of turning it into a drink with them.
As surplus grains were produced, rather than letting them spoil and become unusable, farmers turned them into spirits. Barley could be turned into beer, but other grains did not convert into a frothy brew as easily. Instead, corn, rye, and wheat, along with barley were used in the production of whiskey. This also meant that the mash bill for whiskey was not standard, and would be based on the grains a farmer produced or those to which a distiller had access, changing what he added to his whiskey year over year. Depending on where a distiller was located, different grains might be more common. The prevalence of rye in Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania made it the dominant whiskey there. While barleys success in Scotland and Ireland led to its dominance there, it also explains corns usage in Kentucky.
Whiskey is a drink that combines history, science and local flavor. The skills and techniques that produce your dram have been tested over centuries. The products are locally sourced and traditionally known.
How Rye Whiskey Is Made
In my article on bourbon whiskey, I covered bourbon’s distillation process in depth. Because rye is distilled using the same methods, I won’t repeat all that information here if you want full details, click back to the earlier post. However, I will summarize the process.
Like bourbon, rye starts with a “mash bill,” a blend of grains that forms the basis of the whiskey. Rye’s mash bill must, by law, consist of at least 51% rye. Most rye whiskeys use malted barley or corn as the other grains.
As with bourbon, ground grain is mixed with water and a bit of mash from a previous distillation, in what’s known as a sour-mash process. This introduces yeasts from the previous distillation. In baking terms, it’s similar to using a sourdough starter to begin the fermentation process. The sour-mash process has two advantages: first, it creates a consistent environment for yeast from batch to batch, helping ensure that each batch of whiskey has a consistent flavor and aroma with batches that came before. Second, it lowers the pH of the batch, which helps the yeasts in the batch ferment the mash more efficiently, boosting a higher yield of alcohol.
After the sour mash goes in, fresh yeast is added and the mixture is fermented. It then goes through the distillation process and then it’s pumped into barrels to be aged.
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Aging Your Rye Whiskey
Now at this stage in making your own rye whiskey, you have a choice to make. Whether to age your whiskey or not. If you do decide to simply skip the aging process and bottle up the distillate, you have technically made a moonshine or white whiskey. However, since the goal of this guide is to make a true golden rye/corn whiskey, were going to cover a bit on the aging process as well.
The aging process will drastically affect the overall flavor profile of your rye whiskey. By aging your whiskey in a charred oak barrel or using oak chips for a given period of time, it will give the whiskey its golden coloring and it will absorb the oaky flavors. A chemical process called adsorption also takes place during aging. This process is when the molecules that make a young whiskey harsher are drawn out to the barrels wall, and result in a smoother overall spirit. Many distillers will use barrels which have been used to age other spirits such as rum or brandy to give their whiskey a distinct flavor profile.
Illicit Export To The United States
Canadian whisky featured prominently in rum-running into the U.S. during Prohibition. Hiram Walker‘s distillery in Windsor, Ontario, directly across the Detroit River and the international boundary between Canada and the United States, easily served bootleggers using small, fast smuggling boats.
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Things You Should Know About Whistlepig Whiskey
WhistlePig is relatively young in the whiskey world. Founded in 2008 by Raj Peter Bhakta, the Vermont-based brand released its first bottling in 2015.
In a few short years, WhistlePig has become a well-known brand, offering the most-awarded rye whiskey in the world. Here are 10 more things you should know about WhistlePig.
Best Under $: Balcones Texas Rye 100 Proof
Courtesy of Total Wine
Region: Texas | ABV: 50% | Tasting Notes: Cocoa, Pepper, Espresso
I was a fan of this one before I moved to Texas two months ago, says Carlos Batista, beverage director for Landrace at the Thompson Hotel San Antonio. Its rich and spicy, chocolatey, and peppery, with tobacco notes. It’s just this and a few ice cubes for me. Balcones is located in Waco, Texas and makes this young whiskey with a mash bill of 100 percent rye grains, including Elbon Rye from the north of Texas along with crystal, chocolate and roasted rye varieties.
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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.
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What’s The Difference Between Rye And Bourbon
Bourbon is a whiskey that has been produced in the United States that uses at least 51 percent mash from corn in its production. The mash is fermented with yeast . Rye whiskey must be made from at least a 51 percent rye mash it can also use rye and other grains such as corn. Bourbon is sweeter than rye, which has a more pronounced bite to it that can lend some interesting notes to cocktails.
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All Natural No Additives
While all rye whiskies must include 51% rye in their mash bill, Iowa Legendary Rye didnt pull any punches in creating our old school prohibition-era rye, bringing the mash-bill up with a complete 100% rye mash. Although it remains harder to produce in large quantitys. While the flavor profile with each bottle is amazing and smooth.
That traditional process lends it a equally classic flavor that makes for a perfect addition to cocktails and comes at a low purchase price-point.
ILR Ryes standout flavor profile makes it a perfect addition for cocktails since it wont get drowned out by other flavors.
Its the law, but not always
Other Rye Whiskey Styles
With the rapid rise of distilleries throughout the U.S. were seeing a greater expansion of the rye category. New York distillers just solidified its Empire Rye category which offers the brands own unique take on the grain. Sonoma Distilling Company is getting creative by using 10% cherrywood smoked barley in its mash. If youre a bit more luxury minded, then Old Potrero Hotalings 16 year old 100% rye whiskey should set ya right.
Hopefully this has been a helpful primer to anyone looking to understand American rye whiskey styles a bit better. Let your palate be your guide and enjoy a little rye!
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What Is Rye Whiskey
Often and unfairly compared to bourbon, rye is arguably Americas oldest whiskey and was once its most popular alcoholic spirit. Like all American whiskey, it is produced according to the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureaus Federal Standard of Identity for Distilled Spirits.
In short, these regulations require any American-made whiskey to be distilled to a maximum of 80% ABV, aged in new charred oak barrels at no more than 62.5% ABV, and then bottled at a minimum of 40% ABV.
Incidentally, there is no minimum ageing period some whiskeys can be bottled and domestically sold after just a few months in an oak cask. Not all territories allow for this practice, though. For instance, the European Union requires any liquor bearing the name whisky to be aged for at least three years.
Aged whiskey may be labelled with age statements or with terms like straight and bottled-in-bond. You can learn more about these terms and what they mean with our introductory guide to American whiskey.
What sets rye apart is its eponymous main ingredient. All whiskey is produced from fermented grain called a mash, which may consist of corn, malted barley, wheat, and, of course, rye. The proportions of these used in the mash are referred to as the bill.
Everything You Need To Know About What Ry Whiskey Is How It’s Made And Which Brands To Drink
I don’t know about any of you, but I’m a boozer who likes to drink rye whiskey year ’round. Winter, summer, whatever, no day’s too hot to enjoy a nice rye old-fashioned. But normal people, I hear, think of rye as a cold-weather treat. Its spicy, robust character and bone-dry palate certainly help take the edge off a brisk, autumn day. And since we in the Northeast have had several such days lately, it’s time to talk all things rye.
While you’re Halloween-shopping for sparkle-vampire costumes and candy corn, you’re probably ready to pop into your local likker shop for grand old rye whiskey. Today, I’ll get you up to speed on rye’s origins, its future, what makes it unique, and how it’s made.
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A Brief Storied History Of Rye Whiskey
Rye Whiskey in the US is now seeing a resurgence from the heights it had experienced pre prohibition.
To understand Rye Whiskey let’s take a Bill and Ted phone booth ride back to the late 1700’s and early 1800’s, where we landed in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. This is where a large concentration of Scots/Irish immigrants have settled – and for obvious reasons, want to bring their native spirits with them. The barley they used to making scotch and Irish whiskey with is having a hard time adapting to the growing conditions in their new homeland. Most folks during this time frame kept the source of their grains pretty close to their distilleries as travel was costly and time consuming for large bulk items. These distillers and farmers quickly realized that rye flourished and soon became a replacement for barely heavy recipes. This led to the practice we still hold to today of American Rye Whiskeys needing to be at least 51% rye grain, distilled no higher than 160 proof, barrel aged no higher than 125 proof, and much like bourbon aged in new charred oak barrels.
We are now seeing a 21st century resurgence of Rye Whiskey in the US, kicked off by Jack Daniels and the rebuilding of George Washington’s original Distillery in Mt. Vernon, that at one point produced 100,000 gallons of rye whiskey.
We hope you have enjoyed the ride through Rye Whiskey history as much as we enjoy being a part of it!
Rye Rye And Rye Again
Just like America itself, there was no keeping rye down. Cocktails began to boom in popularity again and with them, rye whiskey was back in the glassesand good favorsof bar patrons. While rye whiskey still isnt as popular as other whiskey options, distillers are making more and more of it every year. And the people are drinking it up.
Now, were making our own Sazerac Rye in the Sazerac House. You can see the distilling process and learn all about it on your next tour.
After years of ups and downs, rye whiskey is back and better than ever. And its not going away any time soon.
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Whiskey Comes To America
The first whiskey distilling operations in America are often credited to Pennsylvania and Maryland. After the American Revolution, rum quantities drastically dropped. But Scottish and Irish immigrants quenched the peoples thirst with whiskey. The only problem? The climate wasnt just right for the Irish whiskey they were used to making. Luckily, the new rye whiskey was a more than adequate substitute.
Soon enough, rye whiskey was an American favorite and production ramped up by the early 1800s. Pennsylvania produced and shipped 6.5 million gallons of rye in the year 1810 alone, which was nearly three times more than Kentucky bourbon that same year. Even George Washington got into the rye whiskey distilling game after his presidency. It doesnt get much more American than that.
Cocktails like the Manhattan, Old Fashioned and of course the Sazerac made whiskey more popular than ever. Until it wasnt.