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The Best Rye Whiskeys That Use MGP Of Indiana Rye, Ranked

American rye whiskey and MGP of Indiana are inextricably connected. The Indiana distillery’s 95 percent rye whiskey (with five percent malted barley rounding out the recipe) is the rye whiskey that reinvigorated the whiskey style over the last decade. There’s a pretty big chance that if you’ve ever savored a rye whiskey over the last ten years, it was from Indiana — even if it’s bottled in Maryland, Vermont, Tennessee, or, yes, Kentucky.

What’s fascinating about MGP rye is that even if we’re talking about the same mash bill (that now-classic 95 percent rye), the same barreling process, and even the same warehouse placement, you’re still going to get vastly different flavor profiles. Hell, that’s true of barrels that were filled on the same day from the same distillation run. Because of that widely varying nature, brands can create their own flavor profiles (sometimes by adding in their own-make) without it all tasting like it comes from the exact same place (even when it does).

To that end, we’re ranking 20 rye whiskeys that are either full-on MGP of Indiana rye whiskeys or use some of that juice in their own blends back at their home distilleries. This is really about taste above all else. Beyond that, this list also hopes to show just how vastly different these whiskeys are and how beautiful the iconic juice from MGP of Indiana really is.

Also Read: The Top 5 UPROXX Bourbon Posts Of 2021

20. Templeton Rye Whiskey 6

Templeton Rye 6
Templeton Rye

ABV: 45.75%

Average Price: $47

The Whiskey:

This expression is MGP’s iconic rye that’s shipped out to Iowa where Templeton flavors the whiskey ever-so-slightly with a “proprietary formula” to help it hit its exact flavor profile (hence it’s not labeled as a “straight” rye whiskey). The whiskey is then cut with local water to bring it down to proof.

Tasting Notes:

The whiskey draws you in with bright summer wildflowers next to light but clear honey sweetness, a touch of cherry pie, light oak, and butterscotch candies. The palate has an Almond Joy vibe with almost toasted coconut, powdery milk chocolate, and a hint of vanilla next to an echo of woody tobacco stems. The finish doesn’t overstay its welcome and leaves you with a hint of cinnamon and nutmeg spice next to that sweet butterscotch.

Bottom Line:

This is an interesting place to start any MGP journey in that this whiskey is altered to a very unique flavor profile. The MGP is the base that’s massaged into something wholly new. It’s worth noting that Templeton has been distilling their own juice for a few years now, so this won’t be an MGP product for too much longer.

19. Tin Cup Rye

Tin Cup Rye
Tin Cup

ABV: 45%

Average Price: $30

The Whiskey:

This expression is made with three-year-old MGP 95 that’s shipped out to Colorado. Once in the Rocky Mountain State, the barrels are blended and proofed down with that mile-high water.

Tasting Notes:

This nose offers clear notes of vanilla extract by way of a pecan pie that then moves towards cinnamon spice and fresh sprigs of dill and tobacco leaves. The palate has a vanilla pudding feel that’s bolstered by sweet cinnamon sticks and dark clove berries. That leads towards a dry sweetgrass note, which brings the tobacco leaves back with a clear spiciness that’s close to a freshly cracked black pepper and allspice berry.

Bottom Line:

This is probably the most “standard” MGP 95 rye you can get — and that’s the point. This is a “spicy” rye like the ones you’ve certainly heard about. That’s not a bad thing, especially since this is a very easy-to-drink whiskey all around.

Still, this is definitely a cocktail base more than anything else.

18. Redemption Rye

Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits

ABV: 46%

Average Price: $30

The Whiskey:

This affordable rye is the famed MGP 95 that’s aged for just under three years. The juice is blended by Master Blender Dave Carpenter and is brought down to a very reasonable 92 proof with soft Kentucky limestone water.

Tasting Notes:

This opens with rushes of cedar, green grass, nasturtiums, and soft leather. The palate feels like common black pepper next to more cedar with a touch of wet chili pepper flesh. The end combines mint, chocolate, and tobacco and packs all three into an old cigar box, and then dusts the whole thing with white pepper.

Bottom Line:

This is vastly different than Tin Cup above. The proof is very close but that water source for getting to that proof is drastically different. Moreover, we’re talking about two blenders looking for different flavor profiles for their brand and finding it.

I do like this as a cocktail base but it works on the rocks, too, and, in a pinch, as a sipper .

17. Bulleit 95 Rye

Diageo

ABV: 45%

Average Price: $33

The Whiskey:

Bulleit Rye remains one of the most important ryes in the resurgence of the style. The juice is aged for four to seven years at MGP before blending, proofing, and bottling by Bulleit at their distillery.

Tasting Notes:

This opens up with a mix of resinous cedar, sharp rye spiciness, creamy vanilla, and a hint of fresh mint. The taste delivers on those notes while folding in hints of dark cacao (with water added), savory figs, and a buttery/crumbly biscuit somewhere deep in the bottom of the sip. The end lasts a while and circles back around to that cedar and sap, with plenty more sharp spiciness and a final hint of menthol tobacco.

Bottom Line:

This is the standard-bearer of all things MGP 95. I mean, “95” is in the damn name of the bottle. Still, this is the rye that launched a thousand ryes, so to speak, and 100 percent deserves space on your bar cart — especially for mixing up a mean rye cocktail.

16. Traverse City North Coast Rye

Traverse City Whiskey Co.

ABV: 45%

Average Price: $45

The Whiskey:

This whiskey from Michigan is a blend of Traverse City’s own-make (a 100 percent rye) and MGP 95. The whiskeys are aged for about two years before they’re vatted and proofed down with that clear Michigan water.

Tasting Notes:

This is sort of all over the place from top to bottom, with a nose full of soft leather, dried flowers, bready grains, lemon curd, and dark cherry. The palate has that creamy vanilla and eggnog pudding vibe with a touch of caramel corn, fresh ginger, and meaty dates. The spice kicks up on the backend with a very distinct cherry-vanilla tobacco chewiness that leaves your mouth buzzing and satisfied.

Bottom Line:

This works, somehow. It’s also an interesting example of what a distiller can do when blending their own juice with MGP. I would still say, though, that we’re squarely in “solid cocktail base” territory here.

15. Redwood Empire Emerald Giant Rye Whiskey

Rerwood Empire Rye
Redwood Empire

ABV: 45%

Average Price: $40

The Whiskey:

This 95 percent rye whiskey (a portion from Indiana) is shipped out to Sonoma County, California where it’s blended with Redwood’s own rye and proofed. The whiskey is named after the fastest-growing Redwood tree in the world, the Emerald Giant.

Tasting Notes:

The nose ping pongs from malty cinnamon rolls with walnuts and plenty of buttery syrup to a touch of black pepper. The palate builds on that pepperiness. and cinnamon to bring about a nice warmth that’s countered by sweet honey and orange oils. The finish leans into the hot cinnamon, leaving you with a slight buzzing in your senses.

Bottom Line:

This is another great example of a distiller using MGP as an ingredient in their final product. Think of it like a chef importing, say, wild rice from Minnesota so that they can make a killer rice cake dish with locally grown California greens from their backyard.

14. Old Pepper Single Barrel Rye

Old Pepper Rye
James E. Pepper Distillery

ABV: 58%

Average Price: $50

The Whiskey:

This is two to three-year-old MGP 95 (depending on the single bottle your find) that’s shipped to Lexington, Kentucky’s James E. Pepper Distillery. The uncut release highlights the selection ability of the crew at Pepper as their rebuild their brand after over 50 years of dormancy.

(Pepper also pulls barrels from Bardstown Bourbon Company for these releases. So check the label to see which one you’ve found)

Tasting Notes:

Expect a herb-forward nose with hints of fresh dill next to absinthe-y anise and a touch of clove balanced by sweet cinnamon and toffee brittle. The palate marries those spices to dark chocolate with a note of orange oils, stewed apricot, and worn leather. The mid-palate leans into the sweetness of the apricot then tempers that with cedar boxes full of chocolate and chili-laced tobacco leaves, leaving you with a bittersweet and spicy embrace.

Bottom Line:

Getting and MGP single barrel release is always worth it. This really highlights the work the team at James E. Pepper is doing to get their brand back in the zeitgeist. It helps that this is incredibly easy to drink and tasty, even on a single rock.

13. Sagamore Spirit Distiller’s Select Tequila Finish

Sagamore Tequila Finish
Sagamore Spirits

ABV: 49%

Average Price: $70

The Whiskey:

This one takes MGP 95 and a low-rye (52 percent rye, 43 percent corn, and five percent malted barley) blend and finishes it in extra añejo tequila barrels in Maryland. That whiskey is then batched, proofed, and bottled to highlight that finishing barrel.

Tasting Notes:

This whiskey opens both floral and buttery with hints of singed dried roses next to buttery toffee, orange oils, and a fleeting hint of roasted agave pinas. The palate starts off with a mix of orange, cinnamon, and honey that leads to mild black peppercorn that feels like an old tequila more than a rye. The florals return on the mid-palate as savory fruits (think figs) arrive just in time for the long finish that’s both spicy and hints at orange-infused tobacco.

Bottom Line:

I really dig this subtle layer of aged agave that’s layered in but I would have liked a little more of that towards this finish (and I just can’t find it). That’s not to say this isn’t an incredibly easy-drinking whiskey. It is.

12. Smooth Ambler Contradiction Rye

Smooth Ambler Contradiction Rye
Smooth Ambler

ABV: 46%

Average Price: $43

The Whiskey:

This release from Smooth Ambler mixes some very interesting whiskeys together. The blend is two Tennessee ryes (one 70 percent rye, one 51 percent rye), MGP 95, and Smooth Ambler’s own rye which has a mash bill of 88 percent rye. Those whiskeys are then blended, proofed, and bottled in the hills of West Virginia.

Tasting Notes:

The nose opens with a stewed cherry that’s heavy on woody cinnamon sticks next to hints of vanilla pods and maybe some dried florals. The palate leans into the woodiness of the cinnamon stick to the point of feeling like a cedar box full of spicy cinnamon tobacco as creamy vanilla leads to a toasted coconut vibe. The finish lets the creaminess of the vanilla drive a sweet edge as the spicy cinnamon tobacco is just kissed with cherry syrup and dark chocolate on the very back end.

Bottom Line:

Goddamn, this is easy to drink, especially at this price point. It’s also one of the best examples of how masterfully MGP 95 can be layered into a wholly new whiskey.

11. Redemption Rum Cask Finish

Redemption Rum Cask Rye
Deutsche Family Wine & Spirits

ABV: 47%

Average Price: $45

The Whiskey:

Redemption is a Connecticut mainstay that sources its juice from MGP. This MGP 95 is then finished in rum casks in partnership with Plantation Rum. They’re using both Jamaican and Barbadian rum barrels that are then blended for this fascinating rum cask finish expression.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a mix of rummy molasses that’s spiced with Christmas spices and vanilla, with a hint of tart fruit and sherried jamminess. The taste doesn’t really deviate too much from those notes and holds onto the molasses, spice, and vanilla while a touch of oak arrives late with a note of citrus. The end is short-ish and really leans into the rummy nature of the spices and sweetness.

Bottom Line:

This is a great wintry treat that also works wonders in cocktails. Don’t let that stop you from pouring this one into a Glencairn with a drop or two of water to really dig into the nose and taste though. There’s a lot here and it’s worth finding.

10. Pinhook Tiz Rye Time Vertical Series 5 Year

Pinhook Tiz Rye Time
CJS Beverage Corp.

ABV: 51.5%

Average Price: $68

The Whiskey:

Pinhook has consistently been picking great barrels for their blends for a few years now. This expression is the second in the series and utilizes a five-year-old MGP 95 that’s proofed down only slightly after mingling those barrels.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a sense of black-tea-soaked and cinnamon-infused date-heavy sticky toffee pudding with a dollop of brandy butter that’s countered by a hint of grapefruit pith, soft suede, and Wether’s Originals. The palate lets that leather get a little worn as the Wether’s get darker (almost burnt) and notes of black licorice ropes, dry oak, and brandy-soaked raisins mingle. The finish has a bit of a dry straw by way of a black pepper vibe that lingers on your senses for just the right amount of time, leaving you with a final note of gingersnaps.

Bottom Line:

Compared to last year’s four-year release, this really dials in the flavor notes while feeling like a big step up. This is a great sipper, especially with a little water or ice to really let it bloom.

9. George Dickel Rye Whisky

Diageo

ABV: 45%

Average Price: $28

The Whisky:

This is an interesting whisky. It’s MGP 95 distillate that’s shipped down to Tennessee before aging begins. Dickel then runs the rye through their charcoal filtration process and then ages the mellowed juice in their signature barrels. Those barrels are then blended under the watchful eye of Master Distiller Nicole Austin.

Tasting Notes:

This has a nose of peach, cedar, vanilla, and a bit of graininess. The palate balances cotton candy with spicy vanilla Coke vibes next to a creamy nature. The finish gets a little leathery with a hint of the cola spice driving back towards that creamy vanilla, a hint of dry cedar, and a dash of white pepper warmth.

Bottom Line:

Yes, this is MGP distillate but it’s completely altered by going through the Lincoln County Process and aging in Tullahoma, Tennessee’s micro-climate (which is very different than Lawrenceburg, Indiana). Still, this is another great example of how varied MGP 95 is. It’s never just “one” thing, taste, or whiskey. Hell, this isn’t even that “spicy” all things considered.

8. Heaven’s Door Straight Rye Whiskey

Heaven's Door Rye
Heaven

ABV: 46%

Average Price: $80

The Whiskey:

Bob Dylan’s juice is classic rye that spends seven years in new American oak. It’s then transferred to uncharred French “cigar” barrels which spend over three years air-drying in the Vosges region France. That juice is then proofed down with Tennessee’s limestone water and bottled with a Bob Dylan-designed label.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a clear pepperiness alongside bright florals, orange oils, and dry fennel seeds up top. Cherries, more florals, citrus, and sharpness of ginger follow on the palate with a touch of tobacco spice. The depth of the sip really shines through as the matrix of florals, fruits, light spice, and oak slowly fades and leaves you ready for more.

Bottom Line:

Those bright floral notes and that fennel help this pop. It’s also a great example of what unique finishing can do to whiskey. Heaven’s Door truly created something unique and tasty with this one.

7. Four Gate Whiskey Company Batch 7 “River Kelvin Rye”

Four Gate River Kelvin Rye
Four Gate Whiskey

ABV: 56.6%

Average Price: $175

The Whiskey:

Four Gate is one of those brands that whiskey nerds will rave about while the rest of the whiskey-drinking world remains in the dark. This expression is a seven-year-old MGP 95 that’s bottled as-is from the barrels. This is on purpose as Kelvin’s team plans to release this rye again with two different finishings over the next year, making this expression a launching pad.

Tasting Notes:

This opens with a hint of lemon custard and orange oils that leads towards dried mint leaves and a bit of dill on the backend of the nose. The palate lets that orange shine as soft notes of vanilla smooth everything out and makes way for freshly cracked black pepper and candied lemon rinds with a hint of a cigar humidor. The pepper and vanilla work in tandem to bring about a finish that’s very bright with more lemon candy bespeckled with black pepper and a spicy tobacco vibe.

Bottom Line:

The citrus notes on this really shine through and make this one hell of a unique whiskey. Overall, this is a very limited one-off that’s worth tracking down for both whiskey nerds and anyone looking to really expand their rye horizons.

6. Angel’s Envy Rum Finished Rye

Angel's Envy Rum Cask Rye
Angels Envy

ABV: 50%

Average Price: $98

The Whiskey:

Starting back in 2015, this rum-finished rye has a lot of fans. The juice is still primarily MGP 95 rye even though Angle’s Envy has been distilling in Louisville for a few years now. This particular expression is aged for an additional 18 months in rum casks before proofing and bottling.

Tasting Notes:

The nose is bold on this one with hazelnut shells mingling with rummy molasses, orange oils, vanilla cookies, maple syrup, and wet cedar bark. The taste sweetens that cedar as cherry peaks in with a sense of Nutella on the mid-palate. There’s a plummy vibe to the finish that just touches on dark spices, more cedar, and plenty of that maple syrup.

Bottom Line:

If Bulleit Rye launched the modern rebirth of the style, Angle’s Envy Rum Finished Rye solidified it as a nationwide movement. This rye truly shines as an everyday sipper while still being one of the better cocktail bases on the shelf today. Seriously, make your next Manhattan with this. It’ll be phenomenal.

5. Nashville Barrel Co. Single Barrel Rye Barrel #486, Selected by Single Malt Daily

Nashville Barrel Company Rye
Nashville Barrel Company

ABV: 54.92%

Average Price: $119

The Whiskey:

This single barrel whiskey — hand-picked by whiskey investor and influencer Nate Gana — is a one-of-a-kind rye. The juice is 95 percent rye “sourced from [an] undisclosed distillery in Indiana.” The barrel Gana picked was bottled as-is, directly from the barrel with no filtering or cutting.

Tasting Notes:

The age comes through on the nose with a mild but soft cedar next to what feels like a creamy Danish that leads towards a touch of powdered ginger tea and a hint of dried dill and maybe mint. The ginger turns into a candied ginger drop with a full-on apple pie vibe with plenty of brown sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla as smooth and creamy toffee chew drives the mid-palate’s sweetness. The finish is loaded with creamy vanilla, light cedar-laced tobacco, a touch of cherry, and a final note of Tellicherry black peppercorns.

Bottom Line:

This is a very limited one-off, so you’ll have to move fast if you want to try it. That aside, this bottle really highlights the uniqueness and, well, brilliance of the “Indiana” barrels that are being picked by Nashville Barrel Company right now.

4. Stellum Rye

Barrell Spirits Company

ABV: 58.12%

Average Price: $55

The Whiskey:

This release from Barrell Spirits Co. blends rye whiskey from Indiana, Tennessee, and Kentucky. The core is the classic MGP 95 that’s cut with more barley-forward ryes from Tennessee and Kentucky. All of it is left at barrel strength when bottled.

Tasting Notes:

This draws you in with a note of soft leather and Guinness with a touch of apple crumble with plenty of dark spice, brown sugar, and butter. The palate goes full holiday cake mode with even more brown spice, nuts, and candied fruits that lead towards a mid-palate that’s all moist banana bread with walnuts. The finish lets the spice kick up a notch, creating a sharp cinnamon toast feel.

Bottom Line:

This is straight-up delicious. Is it cheating that this is a blend of several great whiskeys instead of just straight MGP 95? Nah. This is one of the best examples of how versatile and useful that whiskey is even when mingling it with other whiskeys.

3. WhistlePig 12 Year World Cask Finish

WhistlePig 12 Old World Rye
WhistlePig

ABV: 45%

Average Price: $140

The Whiskey:

WhistlePig is the brand that helped really launch the rye into the stratosphere. This expression is a 12-year MGP 95 that’s shipped out to Vermont. Once there, that juice is filled into finishing barrels for a final rest. 63 percent goes into Madiera barrels, 30 percent goes into Sauternes casks, and the final seven percent rest in Port casks until they’re blended, proofed, and bottled.

Tasting Notes:

This is all about stewed plums with plenty of wintry spices, a mulled wine vibe, salted caramel, pear stems, and vanilla husks on the nose. The palate really leans into big and meaty dried fruits with brandy-soaked raisins, black tea-soaked dates, and candied figs as a lighter touch of apricot brightens this up and leads back towards winter-spice-infused honey. That sweetness bitters towards a dark chocolate-laced tobacco leaf and soft vanilla on the finish that leaves you with nutmeg and allspice-loaded plum pudding.

Bottom Line:

This is a wintry fruit bomb. It’s so easy to see why this is so beloved. It might be the easiest drinking whiskey on this list, especially with a drop or two of water to help it bloom in the glass.

2. Barrell Seagrass Rye

Barrell Seagrass
Barrell Spirits Company

ABV: 59.2%

Average Price: $86

The Whiskey:

The juice in this limited edition bottle is a combination of rye whiskeys from Indiana, Tennessee, and Canada. Those whiskeys were aged in Martinique rhum, rhum agricole, apricot brandy, and Madeira casks before vatting at Barrell Craft Spirits in Kentucky. The idea was to harness the flavors of wood aged next to the sea to bring that coastal x-factor into the blending process for this rye whiskey.

Tasting Notes:

The nose presents a balance of sweetness and warmth that leads towards apple and cherry candies, Werther’s Originals, bruised peaches, and a lightly dried rose potpourri in a soft leather pouch. The taste opens with a slight touch of that peach followed by pears and savory melon while a hint of bitter grapefruit arrives on the mid-palate with a note of cinnamon, fennel, and green (almost oily) thyme. There’s a return of the pear sweetness on the backend of the taste but you have to hack through a very warm, dry, and almost chewy woody spice nature. The very end of the slow finish has this almost white grape soda vibe with a hint of cream soda (and maybe a touch of root beer), apple cores with the stem and seeds, and overused sandpaper.

Bottom Line:

This whiskey is phenomenal. It’s complex yet 100 percent accessible and easily enjoyable. It’ll expand your palate and maybe even challenge you but it’ll never feel like homework when you’re drinking it. It’s just f*cking great.

1. High West A Midwinter Night’s Dram

High West Distillery

ABV: 49.3%

Average Price: $137

The Whiskey:

Each year, this limited drop varies slightly. Last year’s release was a mix of MGP 95 and High West rye (100 percent rye) finished in French oak barrels that held ruby and tawny port. The barrels picked for this batch were between four and seven years old with the older barrels coming from Indiana and the younger ones from Utah.

Tasting Notes:

This bursts forth with bright red berries covered in rich and bitter dark chocolate with sultanas, burnt orange peels, and nutmeg-heavy French toast custard. The palate really holds onto the berries while savory rhubarb cobbler mingles with dates, old leather tobacco pouches, and vanilla pudding with a salted caramel drizzle. The end leans into eggnog spices with a touch of bitter black tea, more leathery tobacco, and a whisper of fresh mint.

Bottom Line:

This is one of the best (and most sought-after) ryes on the market today. Once you pour a glass, it’ll be easy to see why. This rye really is stellar and deserves every bit of hype it gets.

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