You might not know it, but we’re in the middle of a rye whiskey renaissance. The overflowing rye aisle at your local liquor store wasn’t always like that. That’s why we’re highlighting the best rye whiskeys of 2022.
For those unaware, rye whiskey, like bourbon has a few rules and regulations involved in its production. The be called a rye whiskey, the mash bill must be made up of at least 51 percent rye (as opposed to 51 percent corn in bourbon). It must be aged in new, charred oak barrels; distilled to no more than 160 proof; aged at no more than 125 proof; and bottled at no less than 80 proof.
While at least 51 percent of the mash bill needs to be rye, it’s usually higher. Like bourbon, the other ingredients can vary. Distillers use malted barley, corn, wheat, and other ingredients to round out the mash bill.
In the late 1700s and well into the 1800s, rye was the spirit of America, not bourbon. There were countless distilleries in the rye hotbeds of Pennsylvania and Maryland. Much more saturated than the bourbon market at the time, rye continued to be a favorite until Prohibition. When the Volstead Act was repealed—while still popular—rye whiskey sales began to wane. By the early 2000s, there were only a handful of brands left.
But something changed in the new millennium and in the decades since: Rye has gotten more and more popular with brands (many of which get their juice from Indiana’s MGP) and distilleries launching bottle after bottle. This is why now you can scroll through an online retailer or walk down the aisle at your local liquor store and find names like Sagamore Spirits, Pikesville, WhistlePig, and Redemption.
The best rye whiskeys are well-known for their versatile flavor profile featuring flavors like cracked black pepper, oak, dried fruits, caramel, and vanilla. Spicier and more robust than its cousin, bourbon, it’s beloved neat or on the rocks and as the base for some of the most popular rye whiskey cocktails of all time, including the Manhattan, Sazerac, and Vieux Carre.
Below, you’ll find 10 of our favorite rye whiskey brands that are revered for their quality and versatility.
For access to exclusive gear videos, celebrity interviews, and more, subscribe on YouTube!