Aged in charred, new oak barrels, rye whiskey has to remain below an ABV of 80% and when it’s barreled, that percentage must drop below 63%. At the time of bottling, rye whiskey is required to be at least 40% ABV – something few people would likely complain about.
Now that you’ve had your introduction into the process of making rye whiskey, it’s time to get accustomed to some of the best brands out there. If you trust any of these 17 distilleries, every bottle of rye whiskey you purchase will be pure gold.
“The Adventure of Spirit.” Journeyman’s slogan isn’t just a testament to the process its libations go through to guarantee a great flavor, it’s a call back to the distillery’s lengthy history. It all started with the founding of Buggy Whip and Corsets factory, a building that would put Three Oaks, MI, the birthplace of Journeyman, on the map.
Journeyman offers nothing but handcrafted brews and artisan spirits. The distillery focuses heavily on whiskey and pumps out a certified organic rye that makes up the Last Feather Rye Whiskey label.
At 100 proof, Knob Creek Rye boosts the average ABV by 10% and became the first whiskey not to feature an age statement. In Clermont, KY, the Jim Beam distillery pumps out a straight rye whiskey that’s distilled the same way whiskey was produced pre-prohibition.
Knob Creek’s rye whiskey is a full-flavored, aromatic distillate with blends of spice and vanilla that give way to a warm and smooth finish.
If you know whiskey at all, chances are you’ve heard of Crown Royal, an award-winning brand that produces Northern Harvest Rye, a whiskey blended with 90% rye. Since 1939, Crown Royal has been pumping out favored libations and the rye whiskey is another fine, handcrafted creation. The distinct flavors come from a Canadian rye grain and feature a palate of oak, butterscotch, and subtle peppery vanilla.
The first Canadian whiskey to be honored with World Whisky of the Year in Jim Murray’s Annual Whisky Bible 2016, Crown Royal’s Northern Harvest is a clear indication of the care put into the distillery’s operations.
Winner of the Double Gold at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, Pikesville’s Straight Rye Whiskey is a classic distillate with a history dating back to 1895. From a small distillery in Scott’s Level, MD, the 110 proof Pikesville Rye Whiskey was conceived.
Pale in color, Pikesville carries a fine, classic flavor of honeyed rye and cloves. The aroma is an appealing blend of cocoa and smoke which contrasts the smooth finish of spiced vanilla.
Combining traditional distilling methods with the improvised work of an independent craftsman, Angel’s Envy handcrafts every bottle 8 to 12 barrels at a time. Angel Envy’s Rye Whiskey isn’t just a take on a classic libation, it’s a complete reinvention that’s finished in Caribbean rum casks.
For 18 months, the rye whiskey absorbs the cask’s flavoring, resulting in a complex rye whiskey that’s both earthy, spiced, and sweet. The nose presents a citrusy start that forms into something sweeter, akin to caramel candies or vanilla. Rum and sherry wood comprises an intricate palate while a sweet and dry finish rounds off the unique distillate.
From the Buffalo Trace Distillery in Kentucky comes this straight rye brand that has more than 100 years of history backing its perfected flavors. Originally distilled by Colonel Edmund Haynes Taylor, Jr., this classic rye whiskey is 100 proof straight rye that bears notes of black pepper, dried fruit, and a clear mix of sweet and savory ingredients.
Made from a mix of rye and malted barley, it has a dry finish that lingers with caramel and dark spice.
Handcrafted in Kansas City, Dark Horse’s Reunion Straight Rye Whiskey is a caramel delight aged in the distilleries signature oak barrels. Butterscotch, ginger, and cinnamon round off a pleasing and impressive flavor profile and at only 95 proof, its bite is less severe than other rye whiskeys.
Dark Horse Distilling Company deals only in handcrafted libations made from high-quality rye. Everything that comes from this Kansas City establishment starts in the 500-gallon column copper pot known fittingly as “Chester Copperpot.”
Ninety-three proof and made from a mixture of rye and corn, FEW Spirits award-winning rye is a must for every liquor cabinet. Distilled in the great state of Illinois, the FEW Spirits brand is known for its use of the best grains to perfect a classic flavor.
In an age of mass production and changing hands, especially in the United States, FEW ensures its distillates are brewed with care under one roof. This level of attention to each bottle lends to FEW’s exceptional rye.
If there’s one thing Iowa should be known for its being the birthplace of Templeton Rye. During the prohibition, Templeton’s classic rye was used as a supplement to farmer income and it’s this historic flavor that’s still present today.
Though now distilled and aged in Lawrenceburg, IN, Templeton’s rye whiskey stays true to its roots. Hints of caramel and butterscotch bleed through a rich and full body. The finish is a balance of clean and smooth, a call back to the libation once shuffled around by bootleggers.
Alice’s rabbit hole led her to a whimsical land of insanity. Kentucky’s Rabbit Hole distillery leads to a flavorful rye whiskey that, despite the constant changes in the cost to distill, remains 100% a product of Kentucky.
Made from 95% rye and 5% malted barley, Rabbit Hole’s rye whiskey is a pleasing mix of sweet and spice that lingers on the tongue. Winner of the Double Gold award at the New York World Wine & Spirits Competition, this 95 proof libation does its state proud.
Featuring a line of rye whiskey and rye bourbon, Redemption Rye Whiskey Distillery hopes to rectify the years of people being fooled by mass-produced rye whiskeys. At a mixture of 05% rye and 5% barley malt, Redemption’s rye provides that spiced sweetness that’s expected of a classic rye whiskey.
For just over two years, new charred oak barrels house this libation, ensuring it’s distilled with the perfect flavoring of light floral and citrus notes.
William Wolf’s line-up of whiskeys may be premium, but they’re distilled with no frills, ensuring a classic blend with each bottle. From coffee to apple, William Wolf knows how to offer a unique take on whiskey, but it’s the rye that continues to stand out.
The amber gold coloring is indicative of the light and fruity flavoring with each sip. A medium dry finish rounds off the spiced vanilla and orange notes.
The south may be best known for perfecting the whiskey scene in the United States, but that doesn’t discount states like New York from putting forth their best effort. For New York, Hudson Whiskey is their best and a formidable entry in the whiskey scene.
The award-winning distillery is responsible for the Manhattan Rye, a bold and spiced take on the classic libation. At the root of the complex flavor profile is a hint of coconut and honey. More than half the ingredients are locally grown, ensuring a completely unique rye.
In the east coast city of Baltimore, MD, the fine masters of malt at Sagamore Spirit have perfect a rye in four different varieties. Cask strength, Signature, Straight, and American feature their own distilling process and, therefore, their own flavor profiles.
While the American Moscatel Barrel Finished Whiskey may deliver a rich blend of sweetness and dark fruits after being finished in muscatel wine barrels, the Double Oak Straight Rye ages for four years for a vanilla caramel palate.
From the Buffalo Trace Distillery in Kentucky comes this long-necked bottle of rich, amber whiskey. Sazerac is a two-time award-winning blend that shows what the Master Distillers of Frankfort, KY are capable of.
An aroma of clove, anise, and vanilla prepares for the candied spice and citrus palate. At the end of it all, a touch of licorice concludes a big, smooth finish.
Well-known across the states, Jimmy Russell’s Wild Turkey 101is a favored brand of rye whiskeys and bourbons. Two of its three expertly crafted rye distillates have earned the title of award-winning, and once you pop the bottle on any one of them, it’s perfectly clear why.
Wild Turkey Rye, Wild Turkey 101 Rye, and Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel Rye each have their own exclusive profiles and range from 81 proof to 104 proof. The more simplistic rye boasts a broad spiced vanilla flavor and a bold rye taste while the 101 Rye delivers on a smoky and warm palate. Russell’s exclusive rye is flavored for the pro whiskey drinking with touches of tobacco and pepper rounded off with a hint of vanilla.
Ignore the hilarious name – it may be fun to say, but the distillates brewing in this Middlebury, VT establishment are no laughing matter. Its 10-year straight whiskey is aged in new American Oak casks before being finished in bourbon barrels for that spiced sweetness.
Dubbed the most awarded Rye Whiskey in the world, WhistlePig’s 10-Year rose to the top with its sweet palate, hints of vanilla and caramel, and a long, smooth finish of butterscotch.