Rye Whiskey, Bourbon’s spicy cousin, has seen a huge resurgence in recent years. According to the Distilled Spirits Council, Rye whiskey sales have increased 536% in the past five years. The increased appreciation for the spirit has led to demand for higher quality Rye Whiskies. This has also led to a slew of new Rye whiskies joining the market. Here are a few of the best old and new Rye Whiskies available in the US.


Wild Turkey 101 Rye

Jimmy Russell has always insisted on a higher Rye content in Wild Turkey’s whiskey than other distillers. “That’s what gives us our signature Wild Turkey heat,” says Eddie Russell, Wild Turkey’s Associate Distiller. “He has maintained for years that the spicy notes in the back of the throat are unique to what we do here at Wild Turkey and I think it’s given me a greater appreciation for that flavor profile.” Link


Templeton Rye

There have been more than a few whiskey brands called out in recent years for skirting the rules when it comes to production, nomenclature, and presentation. And Templeton has always been the tip of the spear in that regard for “deceptive practices” you can google but we’re not going to get into. In our opinion, the far more important issue–regardless of the production, legalese, or other nonsense–is the fact that they produce a damned fine rye that’s great for sipping, shooting, or stirring into a slurry with a little vermouth and bitters. Honestly, we don’t care about the rest of the nonsense. Link


Knob Creek Rye

This 100 proof rye from famed whiskey makers Knob Creek is made in small batches. It’s a spicy rye that is also full of caramel and vanilla undertones. Link


Sazerac Rye

Buffalo Trace is one of the most beloved distilleries in the US. The makers of Stagg, Blanton’s and the highly sought after Pappy Van Winkle also make a pretty darn good rye. Sazerac Rye, winner of multiple awards also received a rating of 94.5 from whiskey expert Jim Murray. Link


Rittenhouse Rye

To this day, Rittenhouse Rye remains one of our favorites–along with sharing said accolades with more than a few bartenders–because of its incredible price point, 100-proof, bottled-in-bond characteristics, and, most importantly, the unique, spicy flavors that make it a dynamite cocktail mixer while still being a stalwart sipper. Link


Old Overholt Bottled-in-Bond Straight Rye

Old Overholt is a centuries-old rye that makes one helluva cocktail–whichever version you decide to purchase. What we consider to be one of the best entry-level rye whiskeys only gets better when you upgrade to the red cap Bottled-in-Bond version (learn more about that in the Difference Between Bourbon and Whiskey feature) with even more robust floral, fruit and spice notes. Link


Pikesville Straight Rye Whiskey

Nothing in the world of whiskey can ever be simple. Rather than just creating a new label for the 110-proof, 6-years old version of Rittenhouse, Heaven Hill decided to give it a completely new name and even more stylish bottle–Pikesville Rye. Essentially the big brother of Rittenhouse, Pikesville is more robust, older, pricier, and a fair bit tastier–despite having an identical mashbill. While we’re not always on board with the “older is better” sentiment, in this case, it holds true. Link


Willett Family Estate Small Batch Rye (4 Year)

While many whiskey options–whether you’re talking bourbon or rye–share similar flavor profiles year after year, you’d be hard-pressed to find any brand consistently releasing more unique products than what you’ll find annually from Willett. WFE has been responsible for more than a few sought after rye releases–we’re talking about the 8yr/10yr/XCF releases that are so obscure or obscenely priced they’re not worth talking about–but the 4yr green label rye remains our favorite (yes, we’ve tried them all) because it’s just so damn weird. It’s funky, herbaceous, floral, weird, and overall, it’s unlike any other bottled spirit–whiskey or not–we’ve ever consumed out the bottle. You’re doing your bar cart a disservice if you don’t have a bottle of this on display. Link


Wild Turkey Rare Breed Rye

Wild Turkey has always churned out some incredible rye because of Jimmy Russel’s insistence on higher rye content. This is true when it comes to entry-level options like Wild Turkey 101 Rye you saw above, but especially true when it comes to barrel-proof options like Rare Breed Rye. If entry-level Wild Turkey is the playground, 101 is the High School court, and Rare Breed is college ball. When it comes to Wild Turkey Rare Breed Rye, that means a 112.2+ (depending on the year) barrel-proof blend of 4-,6-,8-year-old Kentucky Straight Ryes (non-chill filtered, for what it’s worth) that come together to create a dram that starts with sweet caramel and fruit, transitions to rich and complex honey and vanilla, and finishes with lingering spice and a pleasant warmth. You’d have great success mixing it into a cocktail or sharing it with your friends, but we don’t see why you’d want to. Link


Redemption 10 Year Barrel Proof Rye

The highest proof (116.2) and most expensive (around $100 depending on where you live) rye on this list, Redemption 10 Year Barrel Proof Rye is a 95% rye, 5% barley malt combination of Indiana-bred MGP that will, and we’re not kidding here, blow your tastebuds out of whatever socks you were wearing. Sure, it got five stars on all the whiskey blogs and racked up 93 points during the San Diego Wine and Spirits Competition, but we care a lot more about the spicy rye, dark chocolate, and cherry flavors that give way to licorice, fennel, and pepper on the finish. Basic Redemption Rye made this list in the past, but after having tasted this version, you’d be a fool not to have this on your bar cart. Link

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