Bourbon has been the whiskey poster child of America since Prohibition ended in 1933. Corn was cheap, abundant, and made whiskey taste a little sweeter, which covered up some of the crude distilling practices of the time. However, the glorious 2010's have marked a turn in taste for alcohol. More and more people are realizing they don't have to drink from the rivers of bourbon, and can instead dabble in the smaller, artisan creeks of rye whiskeys. And now you’ve finished reading our ode to non-corn beverages, let’s get our drink on with these five delicious new ryes!
1. Knob Creek Rye Whiskey
You probably know Knob Creek as Jim Beam's more expensive and therefore classier bourbon brother. Well, the Beam family was graced with another addition to the family with the recent addition of Knob Creek's Rye Whiskey. Packaging, proof, and price-wise, the two are near-identical twins. But just as two twins can look alike but have completely different personalities, the Knob Creek rye is just a tad better than the other - think of it as slightly better looking, smarter Cameron Winklevoss (or Tyler… actually, who cares). Knob Creek's rye is extremely smooth and easy to drink for being half alcohol. A dark charcoal taste undertones the slight spice and dryness to the rye, as it’s "lightly" aged in charred new oak. This whiskey's rye and spice mixture will give an initial burn, but the 100 proof will leave you feeling as warm and cozy as a Winklevoss on the cover of Ralph Lauren Magazine.
2. WhistlePig Rye Whiskey
The distillery may stand on one of the oldest farms in Vermont, but its recent creation, WhistlePig 100% Straight Rye Whiskey, is taking the whiskey world by storm (and yes, it is 100% rye). Given the "highest ever" rating for rye whiskey (96 points) by Wine Enthusiast, it is regarded as the cream of the new rye whiskey crop. Single malt and 80 proof, it ages in new American oak barrels for a minimum of ten years, which leaves it with a bold, full bodied taste that a lot of whiskies with less age struggle to accomplish. This wunderkind of whiskey was overseen by David Pickerell, the former master distiller of Makers Mark and current receiver of "How do you even get a job like that, it sounds awesome" conversations everywhere.
3. Hudson Manhattan Rye Whiskey
Rye hasn't been produced in New York since Arnold Rothstein and the gang enjoyed the fruits and profits of prohibition. Poor rye whiskey was left hidden under the floorboards as bourbon took the lead, but Hudson Manhattan Rye Whiskey has proven the second coming of NY rye. Hudson Manhattan must be trying to capture the spirit of the hand-distilling times of prohibition - they make one batch at a time from whole grain rye, hand-fill each bottle, then cap it, wax it, and hand-number it. If that doesn't make you feel like you're getting your booze straight from a slick man in a pin striped three-piece suit, we don't know what will.
4. George Dickel
Finally, some good old-fashioned Tennessee whisky (note that they use the traditional Scottish spelling of whisky, as opposed to the Irish whiskey) aged in an all-too-Tennessee-sounding town of Cascade Hollow, TN. George Dickel is not only a classic Tennessee whisky (an extra step of charcoal filtering separates it from bourbon), but 95% rye and 5% malted barley. At 90 proof and $25, this might be the best dollar-for-drunk whisky on the market. But it’s not just the price that makes it good: The George Dickel rye is chilled before filtering, which relieves it from having an otherwise harsh tone to the aftertaste (though this chilled filtering is up for debate, as seen below). Use this to make a perfect Manhattan, or drink it straight to make you the perfect man.
5. Bone Snapper Rye Whiskey
How could you even pass by this bottle in the store and not instantly think, "Okay I don't know what this is, but I'm drinking this"? Unlike the other ryes in this list that top out at 100 proof, Bone Snapper stands tall at 108 proof. It is distilled from a mash of 5% malt and 95% rye, in Lawrenceburg, IN, then stashed, 10 barrels at a time, in Bardstown, KY, before being bottled without the use of chill filtration (which they argue preserves the taste). If you don't have a bottle of this in your liquor cabinet for its full-pallet and warming taste, then you've got to keep a bottle for the sheer beauty of its packaging. Something about having a stout bottle with a huge label that reads "BONE SNAPPER RYE WHISKEY" just screams, "I am a scholar, a romantic, and an occasional pillager."