When it comes to booze, we live in a whiskey world. It’s a great place to be. Great whiskey is cheaper and better than ever and that’s something worth celebrating. Small batch distillers are popping up all over the country and big macro distillers are getting back into niche styles across the board. That translates to a lot of great whiskey hitting the shelves, rye included.
Rye is a bit of an outlier in the whiskey world. Generally, it needs to be distilled from a mash bill of at least 51 percent rye grain, similarly, bourbon has to be at least 51 percent corn. Generally speaking, barley, wheat, or even corn is used in the other 49 percent to very varying degrees — with the bigger and bolder ryes hitting the 90 percent mark with the rye grain. (Except in Canada, where “rye” can mean a rye distillate or simply just “whisky” in general as more of a colloquialism.)
Either way, rye is the spicy cousin to bourbon’s sweet burn. There’s more going on here — profile-wise — with the sharp contrast of the rye grains adding an extra layer of depth to whiskey. That makes rye one of the more interesting whiskeys out there, full of oaky complexity and peppery depths. “It’s rad!” is what we’re saying, so here are some of our favorite bottles for under 30 bucks.
Old Overholt Rye Whiskey
Old Overholt is the bottle of rye that needs to be on everybody’s booze shelf. It’s very economically priced and has depth and, well, a power to it that’s at once fun and delicious.
There’s a real sense of what “rye” is as a style here. It’s peppery, oaky, and tastes good with a rock or in a killer Manhattan. Buy it, drink it, love it.
Jack Daniel’s Rye Whiskey
Good ol’ Jack Daniel’s is always a solid bet for a good time. This rye is on the subtler side of the spiciness scale, with a nice fruity balance that you’ve come to expect from JD.
You can take shots of this one if you really have to, but we recommend mixing up a great cocktail or a nice rye and soda highball with a dash of lime.