Rye whiskey is a scotch made of Rye, a grain that is cultivated mostly in Eastern and Central Europe. Rye is used for many things, but one of its most important uses is in whiskeys and vodkas.
There are two types of rye whiskeys: American whiskey, which is somewhat similar to Bourbon, and Canadian whiskey.
American rye whiskey has a 51% rye mash bill. It cannot be less than 160 proof and must necessarily be aged in new oak charred barrels as per law. When it is first poured in the barrels, it cannot be more than 125 proof. Straight rye whiskey is aged for a minimum of two years.
On the other hand, Canadian whiskey is lighter, smoother, and contains a corn-based mash bill largely, with very little (or none) actual Rye in it. Rye adds a very distinct flavor to the whiskey, so when Canadian manufacturers started adding it in small quantities, people started calling Canadian whiskey “Rye whiskey”, and the name stuck.
How Does Rye Whiskey Taste?
Rye whiskey tastes very different from other varieties of whiskeys. Rye gives a spicy and peppery flavor to the palate. If you compare the other great American whiskey, Bourbon, it is usually distilled with 51% corn which makes it a lot sweeter and smoother. Bourbon-based cocktails such as Old Fashioned, Manhattan, and Whiskey Sour are a bit drier than their rye whiskey-based counterparts.
Rye whiskey lost a lot of its sheen during prohibition. However, recent years have seen a revival, with many new manufacturers trying out aged rye whiskey products. Let’s look at 10 of the best rye whiskey brands today.
Top 10 Rye Whiskeys
#1. Russell’s Reserve 6 year Rye Whiskey
Despite Rye’s recent popularity, for a long time, it was represented by only three brands: Jim Beam, Wild Turkey, and Old Overholt. Then, Bourbon flavor turned into Rye whiskey, and Eddie Russel turned himself into rye production.
With the production of Rye, he decided to allow barrels to age longer than usual. So for a perfect and smooth taste, the difference comes due to the aging process. There is 51% rye, 37% corn, and 12% barley in Russel’s Reserve whiskey, leading to complex, sweet, and bold rye flavor.
This combination makes it a perfect whiskey for cocktails or neats. The beauty of this whiskey is that it comes at an affordable price; its average price is $46.
#2. Whistle Pig 10-Year-Old Straight Rye.
Whistle Pig used to be less popular than it is today. The whiskey of Whistle Pig was not distilled at its Vermont Distillery. Instead, it was imported from Canada. The hate was due to Canada’s own regulations of Rye whiskey, in which they used caramel coloring in Rye.
Initially, it was printed that this whiskey is made in a Vermont distillery, but that was not true. Then, the government enacted some rules and began taxing it.
But the fact is Whistle Pig produces good and quality Rye, and with quality comes a price; it is among the more expensive rye whiskeys. The average price of Whistle Pig Rye whiskey is $74.
#3. Old Overholt Straight Rye Whiskey
Old Overholt is bound to be on a list of best rye whiskeys. Old Overholt Straight Rye Whiskey is inexpensive yet excellent value.
The whiskey was first made by Abraham Overholt in 1810 and was produced in the portfolio of Jim Beam. This is a light and old-fashioned whiskey with spicy and sweet notes. Due to its low price, it can be used more regularly. The whiskey will cost you $19 on average, and sells very well.
#4. Old Forester 100 Proof Rye Whiskey
It is a tie between Old Forester and Old Overholt Rye whiskey for price and texture. Both are great cheap rye whiskeys readily available in the market. The stout and cheap rye present in the Old Forester balances the taste like a spice, and Old Forester is well known for its bubblegum taste and sweetness.
This whiskey is only a couple years old, but has already made its way to become a top 10 rye whiskey. Its 100% rye makes it a perfect pick for those who want to taste original Rye. The cost of an Old Forester is $26 on average.
#5. High West Whiskey Double Rye
David Perkins was a well-known distiller and a creative person who introduced Double rye whiskey to the market. Double Rye was his first push into the category. He was the only distiller who pushed and blended Rye for seven to ten years with 80% rye and 20% barley rye with spicy and sweet notes.
The result of such a blend was springy, solid, and mellow at the same time. Due to its mellow finish, it is an excellent whiskey for cocktails or people who love neats. With its 92 proof, there is no surprise why it comes under the category of top 10 rye whiskey. The average price of High west whiskey double rye is $37, quite affordable compared to other double-rated whiskeys.
#6. Sazerac Rye Whiskey
You may have heard of the famous Sazerac Cocktail, one of the oldest cocktails in the bars. Sazerac Rye Whiskey was once considered among the best rye whiskeys in the rye world, and as such, its cost has increased a lot over the years.
The taste of Sazerac Rye whiskey is spicy and sweet, similar to Old Overholt and Rittenhouse. Although Sazerac is more expensive than Old Overholt, many people buy Old Overholt as it has similar taste. For everyday consumption, it is affordable. Sazerac Rye whiskey is for easy drinkers, and its average price is $34.99.
#7. Sagamore Spirit Cask Strength Rye Whiskey
Sagamore joins our category of the best rye whiskeys. Though many people have debated whether the whiskey is a Maryland Rye style, it was not valid. Sagamore has its own style and taste. It is subtle, sweet, and non-spicy, just like Bourbon whiskeys.
The signature rye is low-proof and is affordable. The whiskey is becoming available in many states or cities of the country. The easy drinking also allows you to have it with a straw. The 83 proof is considered lower than other rye whiskeys. The average cost of Sagamore Spirit is $69.
#8. New Riff Distilling Rye
New Riff is a famous distillery that will draw your interest. The straight Rye is bottled in the distillery and makes a non-chill and non-filtered whiskey. But the exciting and unique part of the whiskey is it contains 95% rye and 5% malted rye, which is very rare.
The New Riff is the original rye whiskey and gives you a perfect taste when you try it on the rocks. You can add mint leaves when you have it on the rocks.
#9. Pikesville Rye Whiskey
Many years back, Pikesville Rye whiskey came under the bottom shelf rye whiskey from the Potomac Region of Washington. The whiskey was first distilled in 1895, and its name was acquired in 1982 by Heaven Hill. He started distilling this whiskey at its site in Kentucky.
But recently, in 2015, Heaven Hill introduced a better version with higher proof of rye whiskey, Pikesville Rye whiskey. The whiskey won an award as runner-up in Jim Murray’s whiskey of the Year, even though it is a cheap whiskey. The average price of the Pikesville Rye whiskey is $54, which makes it an good choice at 110 proof.
#10. Rittenhouse Bottled-In-Bond Rye
If you know of Rye whiskey, Rittenhouse would be a prominent name to you. It is made of a mash bill of 51% rye, along with Old Overholt and Sazerac spirit.
The whiskey is sweeter than other rye whiskeys made of complete Rye, leading them to be spicy and intense rye whiskeys. Its four-year maturation period makes it a wise option for cocktails. The average cost of Rittenhouse bottled-in-bond whiskey is $28, which is very affordable for this category.
In the era of strong whiskey flavor, Rye whiskey is coming back into its own. Rye whiskey gets spicier when distillers adhere to more proof and use higher quantities of rye in the mash bill. This variety of whiskey is one to try if you have not yet, and we hope our list will give you somewhere to start.