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While bourbon is usually the first spirit to come to mind when thinking about American whiskey, rye has been a staple since the mid-1700s. It’s a must-have for many classic whiskey cocktails thanks to a natural spiciness that holds its own against layers of other ingredients. But modern ryes are equally fit for everyday sipping. Enter The Artist straight rye whiskey from Still Austin Whiskey Co.
Opened in Austin in 2015, Still Austin Whiskey Co. is a distillery with a focus on local ingredients and harnessing the conditions of central Texas. Even the label is tied to Texas—the eye-catching bottle was designed by artist, professor, and former official Texas State Artist Marc Burckhardt.
“Being named Still Austin, and being an urban distillery in a city as iconic and important as Austin, has given us tremendous opportunities for building on our home base as a core part of our identity,” Still Austin Whiskey Co. COO Brandon Joldersma says over email. “We’ve chosen to focus ourselves around creativity (music, art, etc) as an homage to the city we call home, and have formed an amazing partnership with Marc Burckhardt, the renowned artist who we collaborate with for our flagship and limited release labels.
And in this case, the quality of the spirit inside the bottle matches the impression made by the label.
ABV: 49.8 percent
Where it’s available: Texas retailers and online through the distillery’s location page
How Still Austin The Artist Straight Rye Whiskey Is Made
One-hundred percent of the rye for this whiskey (which makes up the entirety of the mashbill) comes from Texas.
“Grains grown here in Texas are everything for us here at Still Austin,” Joldersma says. “They’re unique varietals that are a big part of our flavor. We’ve honed our mash bills over the years to be cognizant of the effects that the weather have on whiskey as it ages here in Texas. We are committed to only using Texas grains, and that’s a big piece of what makes us unique.”
The commitment to Texas grains doesn’t only apply to the rye. All of the grains for Still Austin’s spirits come from Texas.
“You simply can’t compete with the complexity that the wild swings of temperature and humidity that we experience here in central Texas give to our bourbon [and other whiskeys] while it’s aging,” Joldersma says. He adds, “With the Texas grown rye, barley, and wheat, we have an opportunity to make something that truly represents the flavor of Texas in every way.”
This commitment makes it stand out among the (still very good) distillers that are all purchasing grain from the same commodity sources.
What Still Austin The Artist Straight Rye Whiskey Tastes Like
This is a big whiskey that sips easy neat. It has a fruity honey aroma and the first taste is fresh green apple that’s complemented by traditional barrel notes like caramel, coffee, and chocolate. A mellow burn from the rye spice finishes it out with warming spices and molasses flavors.
Why You Should Add Still Austin The Artist Straight Rye Whiskey To Your Bar Cart
The Artist is a versatile rye for when you’re in a group where some may like their spirits straight and some may prefer a cocktail. The Artist does both very well. Plus, the all-Texas backstory and artist collaboration for the label makes the full Still Austin portfolio just as much of a centerpiece to conversations as it is a versatile beverage.