Rye whiskey

Rye whiskey

Rye whiskey describes two types of whiskeys, theoretically distilled from rye.

US Rye Whiskey

In the United States, "rye whiskey" is, by law, made from a mash of at least 51 percent rye. (The other ingredients of the mash are usually corn and malted barley.) It is distilled to no more than 160 (U.S.) proof, and aged in charred, new oak barrels. The whiskey must be put into such barrels at not more than 125 (U.S.) proof. Rye whiskey which has been so aged for at least 2 years may be further designated as "straight", as in "straight rye whiskey". [ [http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/get-cfr.cgi?TITLE=27&PART=5&SECTION=22&TYPE=TEXT "Standards of Identity for Distilled Spirits," Title 27 Code of Federal Regulations, Pt. 5.22.] ] Rye whiskey was the prevalent whiskey of the northeastern states, especially Pennsylvania and Maryland, but largely disappeared after Prohibition. A few brands, such as Old Overholt, survived Prohibition, and both Jim Beam and Wild Turkey produce their versions of rye.

Although the continued production has largely been due to bourbon producers, the home of George Washington, Mount Vernon, has recently begun to distill and sell a version of the rye Washington distilled. Stronger and—many would say—smoother in flavor than Bourbon, rye whiskey is sometimes referred to as America's equivalent of an Islay whisky. ["You are all going to discover the beauty of young rye whiskey," Roundtable Interview, "Malt Advocate" Volume 16, Number 2, 2007.] Though it has remained the standard drink of the secret Bishop Madison Society of the College of William and Mary since the early nineteenth century, rye is currently undergoing a small but growing revival in the United States. [ [http://www.winespectator.com/Wine/Archives/Show_Article/0,1275,6637,00.html "Rye's Revival," Wine Spectator magazine, July 31, 2008] ]

US Distillers

In 1996, Fritz Maytag of the Anchor Brewery in San Francisco, California, began distilling "Old Potrero Single Malt Whiskey" under the label "Anchor Distilling". The whiskey is made from 100 percent malted rye, and is one of the few single malt whiskeys produced in the United States.

Canadian Rye Whisky

Any Canadian whisky is often referred to as "rye whisky", since historically much of the content was from rye. Now, however, most Canadian whisky is blended with only a minority of rye. There is no requirement for any rye to be included in the blend used to make whiskies with the legally-identical labels "Canadian Whisky", "Canadian Rye Whisky" nor "Rye Whisky" in Canada, provided they "possess the aroma, taste and character generally attributed to Canadian whisky". [ [http://laws.justice.gc.ca/en/F-27/C.R.C.-c.870/section-B.02.020.html "Canadian Food and Drug Regulations (C.R.C., c. 870) - Canadian Whisky, Canadian Rye Whisky or Rye Whisky (B.02.020.)"] ] In some cases, the corn-to-rye ratio may be as high as 9:1. [ [http://www.agr.gc.ca/mad-dam/index_e.php?s1=pubs&s2=bi&s3=php&page=bulletin_19_08_2006-06-02 "Rye: Situation and Outlook," Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Bi-Weekly Bulletin, 2006-06-02 | Volume 19 Number 8 | ISSN 1494-1805 | AAFC No. 2081/E] ] In contrast with the US "straight rye whiskey" counterpart, a minimum of 3 years of small (<=700l/~185USG) wooden barrel aging is required for the "Canadian Whisky", "Canadian Rye Whisky" and "Rye Whisky" labels, although they need not be new oak, nor charred, necessarily.

Canadian Distillers

Popular international brands of Canadian whisky are Canadian Club and Crown Royal. There are only a few remaining whiskies made in Canada with majority rye content, the most famous of which are the Alberta Distillers Ltd brands Alberta Premium and Alberta Springs and Wiser's Old Rye Whiskey, long distilled on the shores of Lake Ontario.

Bourbon/Rye differences

Rye is known for imparting what many call a "peppery" flavor to the whiskey, and it also has a bitter quality. Bourbon is distilled from at least 51% corn mash (though it may contain rye as well), and has a very different flavor. Bourbon is noticeably sweeter, and tends to be slightly heavier bodied than rye. The two whiskeys can be used fairly interchangeably in cocktails calling for one or the other. As bourbon gained popularity beyond the southern United States, bartenders increasingly substituted it for rye in cocktails—Whiskey Sours, Manhattans, Old Fashioneds, etc.—initially made only with rye. All other things being equal, the character of the cocktail will be somewhat drier and less sweet with rye. Some experts maintain that cocktails traditionally made with rye taste better that way. [See, "e.g." Wondrich, David, "Imbibe!: From Absinthe Cocktail to Whiskey Smash, a Salute in Stories and Drinks to "Professor" Jerry Thomas, Pioneer of the American Bar", Perigee Books, 2007. (ISBN 978-0399532870) At page 241 Wondrich states, in giving the recipe for a Manhattan, that " [a] ll things being equal, a 100-proof rye will make the best Manhattan..."]


"Rock and Rye" is a liqueur made from rye whiskey with fruit flavorings (primarily citrus), with a bit of rock candy (crystallized sucrose) in the bottle. It is also the name of a toddy made with rye whiskey, bitters and rock candy.

Rye Bottlings

US Rye Whiskey

*Anchor Distilling Company
**Old Potrero
**Old Potrero 18th Century (100% rye mash, oak barrels are toasted rather than charred as for modern whiskey)
** [http://www.anchorbrewing.com/about_us/oldpotrero_hotaling.htm Old Potrero Single Malt Hotaling's Whiskey]
*Austin Nichols (Pernod Ricard)
**Wild Turkey Rye Whiskey [http://www.whiskymag.com/whisky/brand/wild_turkey/whisky1392.html]
**Russell's Reserve Rye [http://www.pernod-ricard-usa.com/media/pr.php?id=26&pr_id=265]
*Buffalo Trace
**Sazerac 6 Year
**Sazerac 18 Year
*Classic Cask
**Classic Cask Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey 21 Year
*Heaven Hill
**Rittenhouse Rye 80 proof
**Rittenhouse Rye 100 proof Bottled In Bond
** Pikesville
**Vintage 23 Year
**Vintage 21 Year
*High West Distillery
**Rendezvous Rye Whiskey (blend of 6-year-old 95% rye and 16-year-old 80% rye)
*Hirsch Selection
**Vintage 22 Year
*Jim Beam
**Jim Beam Rye (Yellow Label)
*Kentucky Bourbon Distillers, Ltd
**Red Hook Rye 23 Year (not to be confused with the rye beer made by Redhook Ale Brewery )
*Michters American Whiskey Co.
**Michters 10 Year
*Old Overholt
*Old Rip Van Winkle (now distilled by Buffalo Trace)
**Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye 13 Year
**Old Rip Van Winkle Old Time Rye 12 Year
*Templeton Rye
*Rare Perfection
*Tuthilltown Spirits
**Hudson Manhattan Rye
**Government Warning Rye
*Very Olde St. Nick
** Very Olde St. Nick 12 Year Rye
** Very Olde St. Nick 15 Year Rye
** Very Olde St. Nick 17 Year Rye
** Very Olde St. Nick 18 Year Rye
** Very Olde St. Nick Winter Rye
** Very Olde St. Nick Summer Rye

Canadian Rye Whisky

*Alberta Premium (100% rye, 5 years old)
*Alberta Springs (100% rye, 10 years old)
*Alberta Premium Limited Edition (100% rye, 25 years old)
*Lot 40 Pot Still Single Canadian (NAS)
*Wiser's Old Whiskey

Rye Whiskey in popular culture

* In the 1946 Academy award-winning Best Picture "The Lost Weekend", star Ray Milland guzzles quarts and shots of rye whiskey all through out the film.
* Rye whiskey features prominently in much hardboiled fiction, particularly the works of Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler.Fact|date=August 2007
* Richard Widmark's character as Jed Towers in the 1952 movie 'Don't Bother To Knock', costarring Marilyn Monroe (in one of her first films), is prominently known to drink rye whiskey.
* In Frank Loesser's "Guys and Dolls", Skye Masterson enters a nightclub at a crucial point in the plot. The waitress—struck by his good looks—asks what he will have. "Rye and soda," Skye replies, in a time when it was a standard drink.
* In "Trailer Park Boys", Trailer Park Supervisor Jim Lahey's main choice of drink (in excess) is rye.
* The chorus of Don McLean's 1971 hit "American Pie" contains the line "And good ol' boys were drinking whiskey and rye".
* Woody Guthrie, a popular American folk singer wrote a song titled "Rye Whiskey".
* In the song "Cowboy lips" by New Wave a cappella group "The Bobs," the speaker bemoans his lack of full cowboy credibility: " Well I can stomach Lonestar beer but not shots of rye/ Rye can only get by cowboy lips"
* In the Canadian sitcom "Corner Gas", the main character Brent Leroy's standard order at the town bar is "rye and water".
* Rye is the liquor of choice for Don Draper in AMC's "Mad Men".
* Rye is the shot of choice in "Beautiful Girls".
* Rock and Rye is mentioned in the Grateful Dead song "Mississippi Halfstep Uptown Toodeloo": "Half a cup of rock and rye".
* In the 1978 Film "Animal House," Boon (Peter Riegert) orders a "double Rock and Rye" while attending a concert by Otis Day and the Knights at the Dexter Lake Club.
*In the novel "The Burglar in the Rye", by Lawrence Block, the main character befriends a noted author, famous for drinking only rye whiskey.


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