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Cigar Spirits: A-Z Guide to Rye Whiskey (Part 2)

1 Oct 2014


Following up on our popular A-Z Guide to Bourbon (read part one and part two) we thought a similar guide was due for rye. Like bourbon, American rye has undergone a renaissance lately. A combination of the rise of cocktail culture and the renewed interest in fine whiskies means there is more, better rye available now than there has been in a long time.

To that end, here’s the Cliffs Notes version of our coverage of rye. In addition to a link to the full write-up, I’ve included my take on the defining characteristics of each whiskey. (Part one was yesterday and the conclusion is today.) And, of course, each article has a few recommended cigar pairings:

Michter’s US1 Straight Rye – Made at an undisclosed Kentucky distillery, Michter’s features a basic but pleasant combination of oak, pepper, and cedar with a minty finish.

Redemption Rye – A young 92-proof Indiana rye, it’s a good value with a vibrant nose of apple and honey.

Rittenhouse 100 Rye – A tasty bonded rye at a can’t-miss price ($20-25). Fudge and marshmallow flavors along with more classic rye flavors.

Riverboat Rye – Another Indiana-distilled rye, Riverboat is odd in that it’s 80-proof and unfiltered. The low proof mutes the flavors but you can’t knock the price.

Russell’s Reserve 6 Year Small Batch Rye – Dark copper-colored rye with lots of intensity at 90-proof. This 6-year rye from Wild Turkey is an underrated gem.

Sazerac Rye – “Baby Saz” (as it’s called to distinguish it from the very tough-to-find Sazerac 18) is a rich, floral rye that’s an excellent value at $25.

Templeton Rye – Another Indiana rye, though the company wasn’t always upfront about the rye’s origins. Still it’s surprisingly flavorful for it’s 80 proof strength with a delicious nose that’s like a bananas foster with extra cinnamon.

WhistlePig Straight Rye Whiskey – This 10-year, 100-proof rye comes from Canada via Vermont. Its 100% rye mashbill and bourbon barrel finish give it a smooth, sweet edge with good complexity and balance.

Wild Turkey 81 Rye – Buttery, drinkable, and affordable. Solid straight or as a mixer.

Willett Family Estate Small Batch Rye – Unlike the Willett Single Barrel, this 2-year-old, 108-proof rye is distilled at the Willett Distillery in Kentucky. Current two-year-old versions are good, but when these stocks get more age they’ll be special.

Willett Family Estate Single Barrel Rye (Four Year) – A single, barrel-proof, four-year-old version of the Indiana rye that’s loaded with butterscotch sweetness and baking spices.

Keep an eye out for even more additions in our Cigar Spirits articles. And, in the meantime, check out our general guide to pairing spirits with a cigar.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

2 Responses to “Cigar Spirits: A-Z Guide to Rye Whiskey (Part 2)”

  1. mphxaz Wednesday, October 8, 2014 at 1:13 am #

    THANKS for all your efforts putting these ‘spirits’ reviews together! I’ve used them to help my purchasing decisions in the past & will continue to do so in the future. Thanks Again!!

Trackbacks and Pingbacks

  1. Cigar Spirits: Templeton Rye | The Stogie Guys - Thursday, October 30, 2014

    […] a late addition to my two-part A-Z Guide to Rye Whiskey: Templeton Rye. Templeton, like many ryes on the market, is […]