30 Sep 2014
Following 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 is today; come back tomorrow for part two.) And, of course, each article has a few recommended cigar pairings:
Angel’s Envy Finished Rye – Unlike any other rye around, Angel’s Envy took Indiana-distilled rye and finished it in rum barrels, which provides a tropical edge with pineapple, citrus, and graham cracker. Dangerously drinkable.
Bulleit Rye – Bulleit represents a bold, flavorful variety of the Indiana distillate at the right price ($25). Highly recommended combination of crisp apple, pepper, wood, rock sugar, and toffee flavors with a nice sweetness on the finish.
E.H. Taylor Jr. Rye – A relatively new bonded rye from Buffalo Trace/Sazerac, it features a rye-heavy mashbill with cloying flavors and a tasty combination of sweetness and spice.
George Dickel Rye – Long known for its Tennessee Whiskey, Dickel added this rye not long ago. It takes the ubiquitous Indiana rye but adds a twist in charcoal filtering. The result is an easy-sipping rye at an excellent $25 price point.
High West Double Rye! – An innovative blend of two ryes, one two years old and the other 16 years. The result is a feisty-ness upfront with surprising complexity underneath.
Hooker’s House Rye – Another finished rye, this one uses California Zinfandel barrels to produce subtle cherry notes along with mint, spice, and vanilla.
Jefferson’s Straight Rye – One of a trio of Canada-sourced 10-year ryes, it’s a tasty combination of floral notes, sweetness, and spice. A solid value but unfortunately production has been discontinued.
Knob Creek Rye – A powerful rye from Beam that shares many of the qualities that make Knob Creek Bourbon so popular: powerful yet smooth flavors with plenty of wood, sweetness, and spice.
Masterson’s Rye – Like Jefferson’s and WhistlePig, Masterson’s sourced some excellent rye from Canada. It has a drier element than the others but it also features some tremendous complexity.
photo credit: Stogie Guys