These 7 Rye Whiskeys Are Worth Drinking This Fall
You can mix your Manhattan with these great selections.
The perfect time to break open a bottle of American whiskey in the autumn is not just when you crack open a bottle of bourbon, but when you crack open some rye whiskey as well. Rye whiskey, on the other hand, has gained a lot of popularity over the past decade, and there are many new releases available right now. As opposed to bourbon that is made from a mash bill of at least 51 percent corn, rye whiskey is made from a recipe containing at least 51 percent rye, giving it the signature baking spice and fruit notes that make it so unique. There are a number of fantastic new rye whiskeys to try this year, ranging from producers to major distilleries. Here are seven rye whiskeys that you should definitely try.
Castle & Key Restoration Rye Batch 2 and 3
There have been a lot of contract distilling projects at Castle & Key over the past few years as well as the distillery producing its own whiskeys. One of the latest releases from the distillery is the second and third batches of Restoration Rye, which will be released in 2021. There is 63 percent rye, 17 percent yellow corn, and 20 percent malted barley in the mash bill, making this more in line with other Kentucky ryes than 95 percent rye, which is used by MGP and some craft brewers. In Batch 2, 70 barrels were blended, while Batch 3 had 75 barrels.
In Restoration Rye, barrel selection is emphasized rather than rigid consistency, so each batch is destined to be slightly different. It has been bottled at a slightly higher 105 proof and has notes of lemon, honey and allspice on the palate; Batch 2 has notes of brown sugar, clove and fig on the palate while Batch 3 has notes of lemon, honey, and allspice.
Smooth Ambler launched this new whiskey in the latter half of the summer. The name, like Contradiction Bourbon, is a reference to the fact that it's a blend of sourced whiskey and liquid distilled in-house. Two Tennessee whiskeys, one Indiana whiskey, and one Smooth Ambler whiskey were blended together for Contradiction: two of which came from MGP in Indiana.
There is no information on the exact proportions of this rye whiskey, but it's a good one that won't blow you away but will make a good cocktail when mixed with other spirits. The whiskey is bottled at 105 proof, which gives it a strong backbone, and it isn't chilled filtered. You can expect to find cinnamon, nutmeg, caramel, and floral notes throughout the drink.
Redwood Empire Rocket Top Straight Rye Whiskey (BIB)
It is important to note that this new rye whiskey bottled in bond from California distillery Redwood Empire is entirely distilled and aged right on site, unlike past whiskeys that were sourced from outside of the distillery. A unique mash bill of 87 percent rye, 7 percent malted barley, and 6 percent wheat was distilled in the spring of 2016, and the whiskey was aged in barrels with a char level three for five years, according to the brand’s representatives. For this release, 26 barrels were chosen to blend together. It is an incredibly complex whiskey with notes of sandalwood, clove, and dry leaves on the nose, followed by black pepper, coffee, and leather on the palate, and it will also be available in a companion bourbon that is bottled-in-bond.
Blue Run Kentucky Straight Golden Rye
With their experience working at companies like Nike and Facebook, Blue Run Spirits is a new spirits company founded by a few people who have a lot of corporate experience. The company worked with former Four Roses master distiller Jim Rutledge when it came to selecting barrels for their first bourbon releases, though that doesn't necessarily translate to whiskey. Although Rutledge remains a part of the company, he was not directly involved with the rye release. Ninety-one barrels were selected for this release, which is bottled at 95 proof.
Although there are not many details on the whiskey's source or mash bill, it is a solid rye with notes of toasted nuts, spiced apples, and vanilla. Castle & Key and Bardstown Bourbon Company are among the distilleries Castle & Key is working with to contract distill whiskey for future releases. At secondary retailers, Golden Rye can be found for much higher prices than the $100 SRP, but the Blue Run website is sold out.
WhistlePig Sasquatch Sighting #7
As a Vermont distillery with a storied history of barrel finishes, WhistlePig is well familiar with it, as a number of its rye whiskeys are aged at least a short period of time in a variety of different types of casks onsite. Recently, one of them was Sasquatch Sighting #7, a 12-year-old whiskey aged 10 years in sotol barrels provided by Los Magos Sotol, a company that specializes in making sotol.
As opposed to the different types of agave used for tequila and mezcal, sotol is a Mexican spirit made from the Dasylirion wheeleri shrub also known as desert spoon, sotol is made from the Dasylirion wheeleri shrub, and it is made from the same plant. As a result of this secondary maturation period, the whiskey is infused with earthy and grassy notes on the nose, and these notes carry over onto the palate, where they combine with traditional rye flavors like black pepper, figs, and baking spices. Although only 2,000 bottles were produced, you can find them at the Whistle Pig online store, along with the Piggyback Rye, as part of the Norte a Durango package.
J. Rieger Bottled in Bond Straight Rye Whiskey
This rye whiskey was released in August by Kansas City distillery J. Rieger & Co. It is a first because it is the first whiskey to be bottled that is distilled entirely in-house at J. Rieger, and the first legal production of whiskey in Kansas City since Prohibition. It is also bottled-in-bond, which means it comes from only one distillery and one distilling season, and is at least four years old, 100 proof. With 96 percent of the mash bill made from rye and 4 percent from malted barley, this is a very bold and assertive rye. It has a grainy and spicy nose, followed by notes of baking spice and fruit, as well as a hint of sweetness on the palate. You won't be disappointed if you try this in a Manhattan. You can purchase a bottle from J. Rieger's website.
Old Forester Rye Single Barrel
Old Forester's first rye expression was a great example of Kentucky rye that maintained a nice balance between spicy and sweet when it was released a few years back. It was affordable, tasty, and an outstanding example of Kentucky rye. A new version of the rye was released from the distillery recently, which is unfiltered and bottled at barrel strength. The tasting notes and proof will differ according to the barrel.
The whiskey I was able to try, however, was excellent. A label states that it was bottled at 127 proof and was sourced from warehouse six. You may want to try a few bottles from different barrels to see how they compare if you find a few bottles that are made from different barrels. While this is high, it is not enough to overpower the black pepper, burnt sugar and vanilla pudding notes on the palate.