-Company: Heaven Hill
-Distillery: Heaven Hill
-Fair Price: $24-$30
Rittenhouse is a bottled-in-bond rye consisting of a barely legal rye mashbill containing only 51% rye grain. The low amount of rye results in a fruitier rye than many others on the market. A fruit forward nose and palate consisting of dried bananas and light peaches with hints of white pepper lead the way. The finish is short but pleasant, consisting of leather, lightly charred oak, and light peaches along with pepper and a dash of classic rye spice.
If you’re searching for a bold spicy rye, you won’t find it here. However, if you have an open mind to a more mellow and fruitier rye, you’ve come to the right place. For those whiskey drinkers just getting into ryes, this is a great “bridging” rye that helps you start to explore the world of ryes without jumping straight into the bolder spicier ones.
-Company: Diageo/George Dickel
-Distillery: MGP Ingredients
-Fair Price: $25-$32
A rye that can be appreciated by both new and veteran whiskey drinkers, George Dickel Rye delivers an enjoyable experience at a fantastic price. A very approachable and inviting nose consists of sweet notes of vanilla, marshmallow, lightly charred wood, fallen leaves, and a hint of grilled peaches. The palate has a familiar MGP flavor profile, however it’s clear that the Dickel charcoal filtering process has left its mark. Sweet vanilla and marshmallow follow the rye spice and combine to make for one very enjoyable palate. The finish contains little to no heat and continues on the rye trend found in the palate, making this extremely easy to drink.
Packed with classic rye characteristics in the palate and finish, there is no doubt that the unique Dickel charcoal filtering process has left its mark. The end result is a rye that forgoes exotic flavors and sticks to ones that are straightforward and easy to dissect. The 90 proof is perfectly balanced and allows the flavors to nicely shine through with very little heat being present. George Dickle Rye may not be the most complex rye you’ll ever taste, but it will deliver a sip that you want to keep going back to.
-Company: High West Distillery
-Distillery: Sourced (a blend of straight rye whiskeys ranging in age from 2 to 16 years sourced from MGP and Barton Distillery)
-Fair Price: $29-$39
Don’t be fooled by the price. High West Double Rye! has a big unique flavor with a lot of spice, but very little alcohol burn. Rye spice, apple cinnamon, and mint aromas give way to botanicals, anise, and a gin-like flavor on the palate. The finish is long-lingering with plenty of spice and still very little burn. While its label has been modified over the years, High West still discloses much of this bottle’s contents on their website. It’s a proprietary blend of 2+ year old straight rye whiskey from MGP (95% rye, 5% barley malt) and up to 16 year old straight rye whiskey from Barton Distillery (53% rye, 37% corn, 10% barley malt). The result is unlike anything else out there. It’s versatile too - fantastic neat but also adds an interesting spicy element to cocktails, especially Old Fashioneds. It might not be for everyone, but if the flavor profile is to your liking, High West Double Rye! is quite simply a masterpiece of not-so-typical flavors blended into an easy-to-drink low-priced bottle of awesomeness.
-Company: Beam Suntory
-Distillery: Jim Beam
-Fair Price: $32-$42
While the mashbill is secret, it’s widely believed Knob Creek is a barely legal rye coming in at just over 51% rye plus corn and barley malt. If this assumption is correct, it wouldn’t be too far off from a legal bourbon mashbill, and as a result it has a sweeter flavor profile that could easily become anyone’s daily drinker. It might even fool some into thinking they’re drinking a bourbon and not a rye by maintaining a sweeter flavor profile found in bourbon but adding a subtle spicy rye kick. You’ll pick up aromas of rye, oak, and caramel. On entry the sweetness of vanilla and oak plays against rye spiciness, leading to a warm and spicy medium-length finish. Its 100 proof is welcomed, making it bold but still not overpowering. As a result it works any way you like it - neat, on the rocks, and in cocktails if you want a more traditional flavor but desire a moderate amount of additional spice and potency. Knob Creek Rye might easily be a whiskey some of us think of as mainstream and almost overly available, but underneath it’s a quality rye that just about anyone can appreciate.
-Company: Heaven Hill
-Distillery: Bernheim Distillery
-Fair Price: $50-$60
Many people theorize that Pikesville is Rittenhouse Bottled-in-Bond Rye that has been aged an extra two years and bottled at an additional 10 proof points. However the flavor profiles are vastly different. The nose presents a nice mix of sweet and spicy aromas. Cherry syrup, rye spice, red licorice, and cinnamon apple all mingle well. Cherry cola is immediately present in the palate, along with the cherry syrup from the nose. Layered beneath are hints of rye spice, vanilla, and summer fruits. Rye spice, vanilla, and cherry are immediately noticeable in the finish. While not overly complex, it provides a nice pleasant endcap.
The proof might be high for some, however it serves to amplify the fantastic flavor profile rather than impose a lot of burn, making it very enjoyable neat. Additionally, while Pikesville contains a more fruit-forward flavor profile due to the fact that this is a barely-legal rye, the high yet manageable proof helps add to the illusion that this is a spicier rye than it really is. Pikesville fills a gap in the marketplace by being a readily available, easy to drink high proof rye with mass appeal that deserves a spot on everyone’s must try list.
-Company: Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits
-Distillery: MGP Ingredients
-Proof: Barrel Proof (Depends on batch)
-Fair Price: $90-$110
Redemption Barrel Proof Rye is sourced whiskey from MGP in Indiana and it uses their 95% rye, 5% malted barley mashbill. You can also find this in other MGP sourced products like Bulleit Rye and George Dickel Rye, but that’s only half the story. Redemption’s Barrel Proof series has had a great track record for containing nicely-developed, higher-aged rye whiskeys for years. The company has recently discontinued their 7, 8, and 9 year versions, but they can still be found with a little searching and are certainly worth picking up.
Going forward, a 10 year version is going to be their focus. Its palate is packed with gingerbread, brown sugar, vanilla, and black pepper. It ends with a long, hot finish with ample amounts of oak, and a complex interplay of sweet and spicy flavors. Where it once had an $175+ price point, in a rare instance of a company lowering a price, it now sports a $100 price tag. It’s a great value for one of the best high proof, high aged ryes on the market.
Last Updated on 12/2017
Nick, Eric & jordan
Breaking Bourbon Team