The options are endless when you’re looking for the best bottle of Rye Whiskey.
You’ll find plenty of top-shelf options, one more expensive than the next. But what you won’t find a guide to really help you break down and understand which brand of Rye Whiskey you never knew you wanted.
This is that guide.
Rye Whiskey might not be your first choice for an on-the-rocks sipper.
But on this list, you’ll find absolutely divine flavors and you will learn to enjoy Rye Whiskey like you never have before.
And of course, if you prefer a nice cocktail instead, our recommendations will work brilliantly with all your favorite mixes.
Below, you’ll find our list for the top brands in the world and a buyer’s guide to Rye Whiskey as well as answers to how it’s made and what types are there.
Finally, we’ll round off this article with tips on how to drink and really enjoy Rye Whiskey as well as the key tasting notes and vocabulary you’ll need to become a true aficionado.
Best Rye Whiskey Brands to Savor
Here’s a list of top 5 Rye Whiskey brands you can buy.
|2||Sazerac||Best High-End Option|
|4||Bulleit||Best for Brand Prestige|
|5||Pikesville||Most Easy to Drink|
This is an in-depth explanation of the top Rye Whiskey brands, including a list of 45 brands and a brief description of their company, products, and popularity.
Old Overholt is one of the oldest whiskey brands in America. It is owned by Beam Suntory and operated at the Jim Beam distillery in Clermont, Kentucky. Abraham Overholt, who was a farmer and distiller from Pennsylvania, found the brand.
The brand produces one of the most popular straight rye whiskeys in the United States. This dark, honey-colored rye whiskey has aromas of light spices and pepper, with a full-bodied taste that gives a balanced and flavorful finish with notes of spice and dark fruits.
George Dickel Rye whiskey is distilled in Lawrenceburg at one of the oldest distilleries in Tennessee. The brand uses a mash bill made of 95% rye and 5% malted barley.
It is one of the rye-finished drinks in the chilled charcoal mellowed style. This has an exceptionally smooth finish.
Old Forester is one of the old whiskey brands that was founded by George Garvin Brown in 1870. After 150 years, the brand has introduced its first Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey, made from its first bottled Bourbon.
The company follows a historic recipe that recommends a mash bill of 65% rye, 20% malted barley, and 15% corn. The higher malt content gives floral characteristics and a balanced flavor profile to the drink.
This amber-colored rye whiskey has aromas of brown sugar, magnolia blossoms, candied lemon, with a spicy taste of black pepper, cinnamon, and baked apple that gives a bright finish with hints allspice, peppercorn, pine, anise, and lemon zest.
Boardroom Spirits Distillery produces Northbound Straight Rye Whiskey in Pennsylvania, the United States. The company uses a mash bill of 95% rye and 5% malted barley to distill this rye whiskey.
Bulleit is one of the award-winning straight rye whiskeys that was released in 2011. It is a high-quality spirit with unparalleled spice and complexity.
The russet-colored rye whiskey has aromas of rich oak and an exceptionally smooth taste with hints of honey, spice, and vanilla. This gives a crisp finish with a long aftertaste.
Elijah Craig is one of the best whiskey brands that produce high-quality, unique-tasting rye whiskey in the United States.
The Kentucky Straight Rye whiskey is the first extra-aged award-winning whiskey. It is made by blending spicy rye grains with sweet corn to produce the perfect smoothness and flavor profile for the drink. The mash bill includes 51% rye, 35% corn, and 14% barley.
This medium chestnut-colored whiskey has wonderful aromas of dark chocolate, spices, smoke, sweetness from honey, and the warmness of baking spices that give a long, lingering finish with notes of butter, cinnamon, and black pepper.
Michter’s is one of the highly renowned whiskey brands in America that produces the oldest variety of American whiskey. The company was first founded in 1753.
Us 1 Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey is bottled and distilled in Kentucky. It is made using selected American rye grains for maximum flavor and smoothness.
The specialty of this drink is that it is aged in a single barrel, which is a fire-charred new American white oak barrel. As a result, it has wonderful pepper, citrus, butterscotch, and oak notes.
Redemption Rye Whiskey is one of the classic American whiskeys that have the taste and complexity of whiskies that were produced before the prohibition era.
This has a spicy flavor profile with notes of toasted oak, citrus, and mint aromas along with subtle notes of allspice, anise, and black pepper that give a slightly minty finish with floral and citrus after notes.
Pinhook has produced a flagship rye whiskey which is a hard guy rye made from a mash bill comprising 60% rye, 20% corn, and 20% malted barley.
This whiskey is made in small batches and meticulously proofed and aged for over 2 years in oak casks.
It has wonderful aromas of apricot, cinnamon, and eucalyptus, with a rich palate comprising candied liquorice, caramel, and orange peel.
Barrel Craft Spirit produces one of the most intensely flavored rye whiskies. It has unique flavors and characteristics because of the grains grown in a particular region.
These whiskeys are unique blends that are released at cask strength with no chill filtration for an intense and rich flavor.
They distill the rye whiskey in Indiana and Tennessee from a mash bill of rye, corn, and malted barley, and aged it in American white oak barrels for a minimum of 4 years.
Rittenhouse Straight Rye Whiskey has a rich heritage from Philadelphia’s famous Rittenhouse Square. This is an award-winning rye whiskey with a distinct and spicy flavor.
This bottled-in-bond rye whiskey is aged for 4 years and bottled at 100-proof. The mahogany-colored drink has wonderful aromas of toffee, dried fruit, and sweet peppers with a sweet palate, including notes of cinnamon, nutmeg, citrus, cocoa, and vanilla that give a spicy finish.
Whistlepig Piggyback Rye Whiskey is a noteworthy drink that most whiskey lovers love. The brand sticks to the minimum requirement of 51% rye in their mash bill to produce the perfect sipping rye whiskey.
The whiskey is aged 6 years in American oak barrels, which gives it a bold and spicy flavor profile. It has wonderful aromas of tangerine, grapefruit, cinnamon, and black peppercorn that give it a powerful sweet palate with notes of cardamom, leather, and cocoa. It has a wonderfully lengthy finish with citrus, vanilla, and baking spices notes.
Hudson Do the Rye Thing Rye Whiskey is the first straight rye whiskey produced in New York. It has been nearly a century since New York made its own straight rye whiskey.
It is made from a mash bill of 95% rye and 5% malted barley, which is bottled at 92-proof. This is a kosher-certified rye whiskey that has been aged for a minimum of 3 years.
The light amber-colored rye whiskey has wonderful aromas of apricot, honey, and straw. The sweet palate comprises mint and black pepper notes that give a slightly fruity finish.
Knob Creek Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey is one of the highest quality rye drinks made in the United States. The brand uses high-quality rye grains with a high corn mash bill to produce a sweet flavored drink.
This is a small-batch Kentucky straight rye whiskey, which has a light gold color with aromas of herbs and a spiciness from rye that gives a smooth finish to the drink with undertones of vanilla and oak.
Woodford Reserve Rye Whiskey is one of the popular whiskies made by this distillery. The brand uses a pre-prohibition style ratio of 53% rye in its mash bill.
The light honey-colored whiskey pays homage to the original rye whiskeys by having a dominant spice and tobacco flavor and firm floral notes, fruit, and sweet aromatics.
It has powerful aromas of pepper, cedar, marzipan, apple, and almonds with a sweet palate including mint, molasses, clove, apple, malt, and rye that give a long and sweetly spiced finish to the drink.
Angel’s Envy is one of the best whiskey brands introducing rye whiskey to its followers. The specialty of this drink is that this rye-based whiskey is finished in rum barrels, which gives it a unique taste and quality.
The rye whiskey is aged 18 months in Caribbean Rum casks, which gives a raw sweetness and complex whiskey flavor to the drink, which is bottled at 100-proof.
The reddish amber-colored whiskey has wonderful aromas of maple sugar, caramel, hazelnut, spice, citrus, with sweetness and softness from sherry wood, oak, and rum that gives both a dry and sweet finish to the drink.
Peerless Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey is a full-bodied whiskey that is carefully produced using a unique distillation process.
The brand uses a strictly sweet mash and blends it with fresh water and crafts it in small batches to produce a smooth-tasting whiskey with charming characteristics.
The whiskey is bottled at barrel proof and never chilled filtered. It has wonderful aromas of maple, brown sugar, and light citrus sweetness, giving the drink a smooth finish with no burn on the throat and an oak aftertaste.
Pikesville Rye Whiskey was first introduced in Maryland in 1890. However, the brand was shut down and later reintroduced after prohibition and became the last standing Maryland Rye Whiskey because of prohibition.
It is now produced in Kentucky at the Heaven Hill distillery and aged six years in extra-aged barrels. The pale copper-colored whiskey has aromas of cocoa, oak, smoke, and the taste of cloves and honey, which gives a soft and spicy finish with notes of vanilla and baking spices.
Rossville Union is a traditional rye master distiller unit that has been in the business since 1847 in Indiana, the rye capital of the world.
This master-crafted straight rye whiskey is aged 4-6 years, which gives it a robust taste and flavor profile. In addition, the brand uses locally sourced rye grains to distill the spirit, which offers the ultimate full-bodied texture and a high rye taste to the drink.
Laws Whiskey House
Laws Whiskey House creates plenty of rye whiskeys using heirloom grains with different flavors because of the terroir. The rye grains are grown 8,000 feet above sea level in the San Luis Valley, Colorado.
San Luis Valley Straight Rye Whiskey is distilled from a 100 percent Heirloom Rye mash bill and aged three years in charred oak barrels.
It has a light caramel color with aromas of baking spices, orange oil, and sweetness from salted toffee, black tea, stewed fig, and orange peel. It gives a radiant finish with green peppercorn’s spicy aftertaste.
Catochin Creek excels in making several editions of the internationally acclaimed rye whiskey made from locally sourced ingredients in Virginia. The company was founded in 2009.
Catoctin Creek Roundstone Rye Whiskey is an award-winning whiskey made from scratch with 100% rye grain mash. The distilled spirit is aged in new charred white oak casks for about two years, which gives a superb sipping whiskey.
This rye whiskey has a full-bodied, nutty grain flavor with notes of lemon, rich butter toffee, and caramel.
Sagamore Spirit Signature Rye Whiskey is a caramel-colored whiskey that has wonderful cinnamon, clove, honey, and citrus notes, where the ultimate spirit is mixed with water filtered through limestone for a classic rye whiskey in Maryland-style.
Stellum is a popular American whiskey brand that produces modern-aged rye whiskey with a 95% Indiana rye mash bill. The spirit is aged in barrels bought from Kentucky and Tennessee, which gives a classic flavor profile to the drink.
Stellum Rye Whiskey has a wonderfully rounded mouthfeel with buttery sweetness. The deep, copper-colored whiskey has aromas of apples, peaches, pears, and baking spices, with a spicy palate has intense notes of cardamom, coriander, lemon peel, and tangerine. It gives citrus and sweet finish with subtle notes of white pepper, mint, and star anise.
Sazerac is one of the reputed whiskey brands that makes America’s most highly-priced and exclusive spirits. The brand uses rye grains grown in the New Orleans region and ships their rye whiskeys down the great Mississippi River, which gives the drink a unique and distinct taste.
Sazerac Rye Whiskey has a wonderful aroma of cloves, sweet vanilla, anise, and black pepper with a subtly sweet and citrus palate comprising notes of spice and candies that give a long finish hints of licorice.
Wild Turkey is one popular brand that produces high-quality rye whiskeys in the United States.
The Wild Turkey Rye Whiskey is America’s first distilled spirit bottled at 81-proof. They age the whiskey for 4 years in a deeper alligator char for extra flavor.
This rye whiskey has wonderful vanilla, cereal, and citrus notes that give a bold and lingering finish to the drink.
Basil Hayden’s is a sophisticated whiskey brand that makes high-quality rye whiskeys in the United States. Basil Hayden’s dark rye whiskey is a one-of-a-kind drink made by the brand, a blend of two flavorful whiskies.
This rich, amber-colored dark rye whiskey has balanced aromas of dark berries and molasses, with a complex taste of caramel, dried fruit, and spices that give a rounded mouthfeel and a sweet finish to the drink.
Balcones have been creating original spirits in the heart of Texas since 2009. The Balcones Texas Rye whiskey is distilled in bottles from a 100% Rye mash bill, which is a blend of crystal, chocolate, and roasted rye grains.
The dark amber-colored whiskey has aromas of chocolate, fruit, charred oak, black tea, and cracked pepper, with a smooth taste of toffee, coffee, and nuts that give a sweet finish to the drink with notes of dark chocolate and peanut butter.
High West Distillery is one of the popular distilleries that has operated in Kentucky since 2006.
High West Rendezvous Rye Whiskey is the flagship whiskey of the brand and is made from the pot still at the distillery. The brand uses 53% rye in the mash bill, giving the whiskey an authentic taste and high rye content.
It has wonderful notes of honey, mint, molasses, and dried fruit, which give it a full-bodied finish. This is not chill-filtered to keep the oils intact in the drink. Instead, they age the rye whiskey between 4 and 9 years in new charred American oak barrels.
This whiskey has aromas of poached pear, bitter orange, lavender, sandalwood, ground ginger, and a taste of ginger, walnut, caramel, dried apricot, persimmon, and snickerdoodle that give a superb finish with allspice and cocoa nib aftertaste.
Burnside is an Oregon-based whiskey brand that was established in Portland. The company makes rye whiskies in batches and finishes them in Oregon oak casks that give a great flavor profile to the drink.
Burnside Oregon Oaked Rye Whiskey is the first whiskey to be aged in Quercus Garryana. The company uses a unique mash bill and distillation style and blends it in a different ratio to create a unique expression of rye whiskey.
This blended rye whiskey is batch finished with Oregon oak, which produces a flavorful drink with the perfect balance of sweetness and spiciness. It has wonderful notes of coriander, toffee, cassia, orange peel, peach, and allspice.
Traverse City Whiskey Co.
This award-winning whiskey brand makes different combinations of spirits that vary because of Traverse City’s unique climatic conditions.
The Traverse City North Coast Rye Whiskey is a distinct blend of 100% American Rye which has a sweet and fiery flavor profile.
Russell’s Reserve has produced some of the best rye whiskeys in the country. The Single Barrel Rye Whiskey is non-chill filtered and crafted by the master distiller, Eddie Russell.
This rich amber-colored rye whiskey has wonderful notes of orange peel, ginger, lemon, and vanilla, with a spicy taste of tobacco and pepper that gives a smooth finish with a peppercorn and pear drop aftertaste.
Tattersall Distilling Company produces spirits of uncompromised character. It is based in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Tattersall Rye Whiskey is one of the purest whiskeys made by the brand using a 100% rye mash bill, which has 85% Hazlet rye variety and 15% malted rye. These grains are mashed, fermented, and twice distilled in a pot still unit and aged in barrels for a minimum of two years.
The dark amber-colored whiskey has aromas of vanilla, maple, and mellow oak, with light cherry notes that give a lingering finish with a caramel aftertaste.
Nashville Barrel Company
Nashville Barrel Company Rye Whiskey is made using a mash bill of 95% rye and 5% malted barley, which is aged for 5 to 9 years and bottled at cask strength. They make these whiskies in small batches to add full flavor and aromas to the drink.
Rabbit Hole Distillery makes a bold Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey known as Boxer grail, which has unique characteristics and tastes.
Boxergrail Rye Whiskey is made from a mash bill containing 95% rye and 5% malted barley. It has aromas of brown sugar, butterscotch, and spice, with the palate containing citrus, floral, and herbaceous notes, which gives a smooth and spicy finish with black tea and a sweet spice aftertaste.
Widow Jane makes high-quality rye whiskies in the United States. They make whiskies in small batches at Red Hook in Brooklyn, New York. They are non-chill filtered and blended with the sweet, pure limestone water from Tough Rock, giving the drink a unique flavor profile and taste.
Widow Jane American Oak-Aged Whiskey is made using a rye mash of rye and barley that is over two years old. It has the aromas of clover honey, orange peel, and tea, with sweetness from brown sugar and rye grains. It gives a slightly spicy and smooth finish with notes of almond biscuit and dried peach.
Frey Ranch has introduced straight rye whiskey, made with 100 percent winter cereal rye grains grown during winter in a sustainable environment. This 100 percent rye whiskey has a smooth and spicy flavor profile.
It has intense aromas of spice, vanilla, caramel, grapefruit, and almond, giving a full-bodied and buttery taste with subtle notes of ginger and pepper. The drink has a long and lingering finish with raisin, honey, and cacao nibs undertones.
The Willett family is one of the popular whiskey brands founded by Thomas Willett in 1936. They make rye whiskey in small batches with superior quality and taste.
The Willett Family Estate Bottled Rye Whiskey is made in small batches and aged in barrels to produce complex flavors. It has amazing aromas of brandied cherry, cinnamon, and baking spices, with a palate rich in burnt vanilla and spices giving a long finish with a spicy aftertaste.
E.H. Taylor Straight Kentucky Rye Whiskey is one of the best rye whiskeys produced by the famous Buffalo Trace Distillery. It is a small batch bottled at 100 proof straight rye whiskey, made using a mash bill containing only rye and malted barley and no corn.
This caramel-colored rye whiskey has sweet and savory notes of dried fruit, black pepper, and fresh dill, giving the drink a new finish with oaky dryness and a balance of dark spices and caramel.
Templeton Rye Whiskey is one of the best whiskies for strong-spirited alcohol lovers. It is produced at the Templeton distillery in a small town in Iowa, USA.
Templeton Six-Year Rye Whiskey is the flagship drink of the brand, which is made with imported rye grains. This whiskey has complex rye notes and is aged six years in charred new American oak barrels.
It has wonderful aromas of butterscotch, vanilla, cherry, green apple, and dry spice with sweetness from fruits that give the drink a long and lingering spicy finish.
Lock Stock is one of the finest rye whiskies made with 100% rye grains by double distilling in pot stills aged 20 years to produce a depth of flavor and complexity. It is produced in Philadelphia.
The distilled spirit is aged in barrels, hand-selected by the master distiller from Alberta. The robust cut is selected and aged in cold temperatures without toasting.
This whiskey is packed in an opaque black glass bottle to protect it from light exposure. It has wonderful aromas and a full-bodied palate with subtle notes of caramel, clove, cinnamon, dried apricot, cantaloupe, peppery rye, toffee, and warm spices. This gives a long, velvety finish with soft notes of honey and butterscotch.
James E. Pepper
James E. Pepper is the oldest brand of whiskey made in Kentucky since the American Revolution when it was established in 1780.
The 1776 Straight Rye Whiskey is an award-winning rye whiskey released in 2012 as a tribute to the old brands still producing rye whiskeys.
The brand uses a 95% rye and 5% malted barley mash bill, unfiltered and aged for 3 to 4 years. It is produced at the Lawrenceburg distillery in Indiana. The whiskey is diluted with water from the limestone well near the James E. Pepper distillery and bottled at a hundred proof.
This whiskey has complex and flavorful notes of eucalyptus, chocolate, honey, mint, and cloves.
The Redwood Empire is famous for producing unique-tasting rye whiskey in the Northern California coast region. In addition, this place is known for its giant redwood trees, which provide a cool climate for the whiskey barrels to age, giving a slow and exceptional balance to the complex flavors.
The Redwood Empire produces the famous emerald green giant rye whiskey, named after the fastest-growing redwood globally. The brand uses a mash bill of 95% premium rye and 5% malted barley, aged in new charred oak barrels for over three years.
This burnt orange-colored whiskey has wonderful aromas of cinnamon, brown sugar, and pepper that give a complex palate with subtle notes of orange peel and honey. It provides a lingering cinnamon finish.
Wright & Brown
Wright & Brown is an award-winning whiskey brand that produces artisanal spirits in Oakland, California. They founded the distillery in 2014 and released their first batch of rye whiskey in 2016.
Wright & Brown Straight Rye Whiskey was one of the first whiskeys since prohibition in Oakland. They source their rye grains from the Mattole Valley in Humboldt County. They use non-GMO grains and distill them in copper pot stills for perfect quality and taste.
The mash bill comprises 70% rye grains and 30% malted barley bottled at 45% ABV without chill filtration. This rye whiskey has wonderful aromas of chocolate, plum, and crème brûlée, with subtle notes of cinnamon, cloves, white pepper, and dried grass. It has a smoky and spicy finish with notes of sage.
Dad’s Hat is one of the best whiskey brands in Pennsylvania, United States. For the first time in over 25 years, Dad’s Hat has released a new straight rye whiskey made in Pennsylvania.
This straight-from-the-farm straight rye whiskey is made with locally harvested dry grains and aged for a minimum of four years for complexity and taste.
It has wonderful aromas of vanilla, burnt sugar, and spicy tastes from pepper, cinnamon, green apple, fig, and cocoa powder that give a long and smooth finish to the drink.
Chicken Cock Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey is made from a mash bill of 95% rye and 5% malted barley. The Bluegrass State is 100% distilled, non-filtered, aged, and bottled.
The caramel-colored whiskey has a dark orange hue with complex aromas and flavors of cinnamon, citrus, and oak. This gives a slow peppery finish with sweet honey, vanilla, and butterscotch hints.
What is Rye Whiskey?
Rye whiskey is one of the popular spirits made in America. It is an alcoholic beverage distilled from a mash bill of at least 51% rye and aged in charred oak barrels for spicy notes. In addition, it has fresh herbal tones of mint and menthol.
Why is Rye Whiskey So Popular?
Rye whiskey was very popular before the prohibition era, and its demand was slowly reduced because it was a crop that was harder to grow in soil and had more spice than the other sweet grains such as wheat and barley.
However, in the early 2010s, demand for Rai whiskey grew again because of its unique aroma and flavor.
The Various Ways to Consume Rye Whiskey
Rye whiskey is bartenders’ favorite because you can savor it both in the classic pre-prohibition standards and modern drinks. You can enjoy rye whiskey in the following ways:
Rye whiskeys have a naturally sweet flavor profile, making them perfect for drinking straight without adding water or other mixers. In addition, it packs a punch when it’s sipped neatly.
On the Rocks
Adding ice cubes to a glass of rye whiskey enhances its sweetness, spicy texture, and flavors.
You can make several classic cocktails using rye whiskey, such as:
- Ward 8
Mix rye whiskey with orange juice, lemon juice, and grenadine for color and sweetness.
Enjoy this famous rye cocktail by mixing rye whiskey with sweet vermouth and bitters, with hints of spice and sweetness to the drink.
Sazerac is one of the greatest rye whiskey cocktails and is famous in New Orleans. You can make this business cocktail by mixing rye whiskey with absinthe, cognac, sugar, lemon juice, and bitters.
Make a delicious Brooklyn Cocktail by mixing rye whiskey with dry vermouth and maraschino liqueur for a rounded mouthfeel.
Mix rye whiskey with angostura bitters and simple syrup to create a complex and sophisticated cocktail.
- Whiskey Ginger
Mix rye whiskey and ginger ale, squeeze a lime, and add ice cubes to enjoy a subtle, sweet cocktail.
- Vieux Carre
This is the rye whiskey signature cocktail, which is made by mixing rye whiskey, cognac, Benedictine, sweet vermouth, and bitters.
- Whiskey Smash
Make a refreshing cocktail by mixing rye whiskey with mint leaves, sugar syrup, and lemon juice.
- Whiskey Cider
Make a delicious cocktail by mixing rye whiskey with apple cider, lime juice, simple syrup, and garnish with cinnamon sticks.
- Whiskey Highball
Mix rye whiskey with sweet vermouth, fresh lime juice, and ginger ale in a highball cocktail glass over fresh ice.
- Whiskey Canopy
Mix rye whiskey with lemon juice, Earl Grey tea, hot water, and simple sugar syrup.
- Whiskey Steward
Make a chill cocktail by mixing rye whiskey with egg white, simple syrup, stout beer, and tonic water.
- Whiskey Tropical
You can make a tropical cocktail by mixing rye whiskey with pineapple juice, lemon juice, Blanc vermouth, and simple syrup in a cocktail shaker with ice.