In 2007, the beverage world’s go-to magazine, Imbibe, told the story of the “Comeback Kid”, rye whiskey. The long, twisted story of rye had made its resurgence and at that time they questioned whether or not it would come and go as a fad, or remain a revolution. Well, guess what folks? Looks like rye is here to stay. With new brands of rye flooding the market, it is undeniably a new (well, new-ish) staple behind bars.

So, why rye? And how is it different from bourbon?

To be labeled as a rye whiskey it must be made of at least 51% rye grains as opposed to bourbon, which much be at least 51% corn. Rye permeates a cocktail with its spicy, stiff backbone and lush fruit notes. Before Prohibition, rye production far exceeded that of bourbon and as some of you may know, it is the spirit originally called for in our old favorites like Manhattans and Old Fashioneds.

We owe our rye revival largely in part to Anchor Distilling in the 90’s, where Fritz Maytag and his master distiller started making rye in copper pot stills. Their release of Old Portrero was a game changer, helping to revitalize what was arguably once our countries most beloved spirit. Thank you Mister Maytag for sparking that fire! Our cocktails will never be the same, and for that I am grateful.

While I love nothing more than to cuddle up with a great glass of bourbon come fall, rye is a fantastic summertime sipper. It’s body is often lighter than bourbon, and even when its not, its spicy structure helps to balance what sweetness does remain.

I’ve got some high dollar, hard to find reviews coming up later in the week, but if you’re looking to stock your home bar, here are some great options for a day to day drink.

Bulleit Rye
Dickel Rye
Wild Turkey Rye

 

“Give me rye whiskey, or give me death!” -Patrick Henry, kind of.