Rye whiskey is the whiskey that feels like advanced-level booze. There’s a lot more going in rye whiskey than your average juice, and that can be intimidating for the whiskey novice. The addition of rye grains to the mash bill (alongside barley, wheat, and/or corn) brings in all new layers of texture and flavor. Rye is deeper, bolder, and more challenging.
Picking the best rye whiskey is a journey of brown-liquor fueled discovery. But where do you start that peppery rye journey? We popped over to Ranker find out what the masses are drinking right now. Thousands of people voted and a clear top ten emerged. Did the masses get it right this time or are did they just stick to the known entities?
You’ll have to scroll down to find out. And don’t forget to tell us your favorite rye whiskey in the comments!
10. Russell’s Reserve 6 Year Rye Whiskey
Wild Turkey’s Russell’s Reserve 6 Year Rye is a great place to start any rye journey. The brown elixir has a loaf of rye bread-feel right at the top, with hints of pepper and Christmas cake spices. That’s all followed by smooth sweetness and notes of oak char sneaking in at the end, making this one a very nice sip.
9. Knob Creek Straight Rye Whiskey
Knob Creek Straight Rye is another great entry point — although it is a little pricey. The whiskey is balanced and easily drinkable neat, on the rocks, or mixed into a nice old fashioned. There’s a herbal-forward rush here that gives way that signature rye pepper before the oaky vanilla kicks in with a sweetish finish.
8. George Dickel Rye Whiskey
George Dickel Rye is the perfect example of maximum bang for your buck (you can get two bottles of this for the price of one bottle of Knob Creek). There’s a lot going on here. There’s a clear herbaceous note with hints at dill and mint. Then comes in the hazelnut, rye spice, and a little rosemary. That’s tied up in a nice bow with a dry white pepper finish with an echo of smokiness.
7. Rittenhouse Rye Whiskey
Rittenhouse Rye is a complex whiskey with a hefty punch. The 50 percent ABV is a solid ten percentage points above your average bottle of booze. The whiskey starts with a clear rye smell that gives way to roasted marshmallows and echoes of campfire smoke. There’s a nice sweetness that has an almost creme brulee feel to it — burnt sugars and creamy browned butter. Then, at the end, it’s a little floral, giving it serious depth.
6. Sazerac Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey
View this post on Instagram
Not a bad way to take in a national forest. #willtravelwithwhiskey – #sazeracrye #babysaz #buffalotrace #buffalotracedistillery #ryewhiskey #bourbon #whiskey #bourbonwhiskey #bourbongram #whiskeygram #kentuckybourbon #instabourbon #whiskeywithaview #bourbonlife #whiskeylife #dram #cheers
Sazerac Rye is an outlier with a big concept of flavors. There’s a burst of herbs on the front of this one that feels like a trip through an Italian farmer’s market. Oregano, vine-ripened fruit, crisp black pepper, and subtle cloves create a delicious balance in this rye. The finish is a make-or-break moment for a lot of drinkers, though. There’s an almost bubble gum sweetness on the back end.
Let’s call it… unique.
5. Wild Turkey 101 Rye Whiskey
This is another big whiskey with a big punch. Wild Turkey 101 Rye is great mixing whiskey (your Manhattans will never be the same). You’re hit with eucalyptus right up front alongside buttery caramel, oaky vanilla, Christmas cake spices, and a little hint of sour green apple. This is a great sipper to have on the shelf all year round.
4. Buffalo Trace Colonel E.H. Taylor, Jr. Straight Rye Whiskey
This is a special rye from Buffalo Trace that’ll set you back a few bucks. We think it’s worth the extra expense. This one hits you hard with freshly ground black pepper and chili spices with a hint of dark chocolate in there. There’s a lot of cinnamon and allspice lingering with dark, pitted fruits and deep rye essence.
3. Templeton Rye Whiskey
The Good Stuff, as it’s known, is indeed damn fine. This rye comes in hot with a nice woody nose alongside sharp spice. Then the sweetness comes in and it’s a cross between rich caramel and Red Hots spicy-candy-sweetness. It’s kind of addictingly spicy and sweet. Finally, the oak comes back in and finished off this tasty sip.
2. WhistlePig Straight Rye Whiskey
We’re not going to sugar coat this one. WhistlePig Rye is a very expensive bottle of booze. Is it worth it? That’s up to you. Expect damn near perfection in the rye here. There’s a balance of honey notes, caramel, oaky vanilla, and rye spice that’s amped up by whispers of orange. The spiciness has an allspice-meets-cardamom edge that lingers in the best possible way. This is a killer bottle.
1. Bulleit Rye Whiskey
View this post on Instagram
Jest piątek więc musi być dobrze! Polecamy Bulleit 95 Rye To żytnia whiskey, która dojrzewa w dębowych beczkach i ma bardzo ciekawa historie! Przyjdźcie – opowiemy! #ryewhiskey #bulleit95rye #bulleit @bulleit_pl #piatek #dajse #polecanko #bar #bistro #tancereczka #goodlife #tattooed
Bulleit Rye may not be better than WhistlePig but is sure-as-shit more accessible. You can buy four of these bottles for the price of one WhistlePig. Just sayin’.
Expect a nice raspberry burst up front. That’s followed by dried tobacco and pepper rye spices then the oak comes in. It’s deceptively simple while still keeping a nice complexity, making this on endlessly drinkable.