You’ve heard it before, but here’s another shot: Rye whiskey is on the comeback. We’ve long contented ourselves with corn-based bourbon, and we’re not ready (in the least) to change that habit — but to be sure, rye deserves some serious sipping. Long handcuffed to mixed drinks like the Manhattan, rye’s extra boldness and spice in comparison to corn-heavy whiskey is particularly pertinent after a long day of work. It’s simple, like good things should be, served straight up or over ice, and of course still works beautifully in cocktails.
And something with an extra kick-your-ass? That’s what whiskey’s all about. Rye whiskey sales have tripled in the last five years, so it’s time you jumped on this train. Here’s 10 great rye sippers at price points for the thirsty pauper or the libational prince.
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Wild Turkey 101 Rye
This affordable 4-5 year aged rye rendition serves dual threat as a killer Manhattan mixture and a straight sipper with some serious zip. It’s solidly anchored in rye spiciness with a bit of apple and honey. Unfortunately, it’s a bit hard to find right now; the 81 proof iteration is similarly affordable and delicious.
George Dickel Rye Whiskey
Stop giggling at the name. This inexpensive rye whiskey is smoothness incarnate, aged five to six years using 95% rye. Plus, charcoal filtering means lots of tasty flavors, like vanilla, raisin and fruit — all at a poor college kid price.
Knob Creek Rye Whiskey
Knob Creek has long boasted tasty bourbons that won’t break the bank, and their rye blend is no different. Bare spice up front with earthy sweetness make this an interesting sip, and distinctly different at a still-affordable price.
Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye 13 year
With maturity comes layers of depth and intensity that our elderly readers are well aware of. Old Rip Van Winkle’s 13 year aged rye blends “cocoa, vanilla and white pepper” into rye’s standard kick. It’s rare to find this many years of aging at such a low price — you should jump on this discontinued whiskey before all the bottles are gone.
Michter’s US*1 Single Barrel Rye
This single barrel rye whiskey gives both spiciness and fruity flavors like plum and marmelade. Sound interesting? We think so.
Whistlepig Straight Rye Whiskey
Brewed by former Maker’s Mark Master distiller Dave Pickerell, this 100% Canadian rye whiskey is aged for 10 years in oak barrels before it makes its way into your happy stomach. That oak aging mellows the rye bite with vanilla notes, and the utter absence of corn still makes this a distinct, and tasty, drink.
Journeyman Ravenswood Rye
Tasty doesn’t have to mean aged. This young whiskey, made from organic rye and wheat, has bold grain notes and is smooth throughout — sounds perfect for a cocktail drink, doesn’t it?
Buffalo Trace Colonel E.H. Taylor, Jr. Straight Rye Whiskey
This corn-free, to-be-released creation has it all: alcohol burn, caramel, rye spice, cinnamon, and even strawberries. Oh, and it’s named after one of the founding fathers of American whiskey. He’d be proud of this one.
Sazerac 18 year Rye
Balance is key in one of the most sought-after rye whiskeys on the market. 18 years of relaxation mellow the usual oakiness and spice and induce citrus and honey. Only 28 barrels are released per yearly bottling, so if you can sniff this one out, hide it well from moochers.
Masterson’s 10 Year Old Straight Rye Whiskey
For those with a sweet tooth, Masterson’s first foray into whiskey is a treat. The usual spice (have we drilled that point home yet?) in this Canadian import is finished with raisin and orange notes. Not bad, eh?