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

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 oak barrels. The whiskey must be put into the barrels at no more than 125 (U.S.) proof. Rye whiskey was the prevalent whiskey of the northeastern states, especially Pennsylvania and Maryland, but largely disappeared after Prohibition, with only a few remaining producers. American whiskey, like Irish whiskey, is spelled with the "e", with most Canadian or Scottish whiskies omitting the letter.

Stronger in flavor than Bourbon, rye whiskey is sometimes referred to as America's equivelent of an Islay whisky

Canadian/Rye differences
Canadian whisky is also called "rye whisky" in Canada and in some portions of the United States, as historically much of the content was from rye. Today, however, most Canadian rye whisky is blended with only a small portion, if any, coming from rye. Popular brands are Canadian Club and Crown Royal. In Canada, almost all Canadian Whisky


Popular types


is labeled as Rye Whisky with the exception of those which contain effectively no rye. There is no legal requirement for rye to be included in the blend used to make "Rye Whisky" in Canada. The only remaining 100% rye Rye Whisky made in Canada is Alberta Premium.

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 interchageably in cocktails calling for one or the other, though all other things being equal, the character of the cocktail will be somewhat drier with rye. Further, there are those who maintain that certain cocktails that were traditionally made with rye, such as the Manhattan, are better that way.

Scotch/Rye differences
Scotch whisky whisky is distilled from barley mash, which is sometimes dried over a slow peat fire. This is what gives Scotch its distinctive smoky, slightly oily flavor. While many cocktails (such as the Rob Roy, which is basically a Manhattan made with Scotch instead of rye) are based on Scotch, its highly distinctve flavor resists "marrying" with other spirits, or fruit juices. Scotch is probably best enjoyed "neat" or on the rocks, though it is very popular mixed with soda water for a "Scotch and Soda". Unlike bourbon and rye - and not withstanding some unfortunate cocktail recipes - Scotch is, to most people's taste, not interchangeable with other whiskeys like rye in cocktails.


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.

Other prominent rye whiskey distillers in the United States include Jim Beam and Austin, Nichols, which markets its product under the Wild Turkey brand at 80 and 101 proof. Other brands include Old Overholt, Sazerac, Van Winkle Family Reserve, Rittenhouse, Michter's and Pikesville.

"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

American Rye

  • Anchor Distilling Company
    • Old Potrero
    • Old Potrero 18th Century (100% rye mash, oak barrels are toasted rather than charred as for modern whiskey)
    • Old Portrero Hotaling's
  • Austin Nichols (Pernod Ricard)
    • Wild Turkey
  • 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
  • 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
    • Michters 10 Year
  • Old Overholt
  • Old Rip Van Winkle (now distilled by Buffalo Trace)
    • Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye 13 Year
  • Templeton Rye (currently distributed only in the state of Iowa)
  • Tuthilltown Spirits
    • Hudson Manhattan Rye
    • Government Warning Rye

Canadian Rye

  • Alberta Premium

Rye Whiskey in Popular Culture

  • The folksong "Jack of Diamonds," is sometimes known as "Rye Whiskey"
  • The Don McLean song "The Day the Music Died" (commonly known as "American Pie") contains a reference to rye whiskey in the chorus.
  • Folk singer Woody Guthrie recorded a brief song entitled "Rye Whiskey."














This entry is from Wikipedia, the leading user-contributed encyclopedia. It may not have been reviewed by professional editors (see full disclaimer)

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