Rye is one of the hottest whiskey categories out there now. Since 2009 alone, the volume of rye produced in the US has risen over 536%, according to the Distilled Spirits Council. This is only a shock to some, as rye whiskey was the backbone of the whiskey industry for a very long time, and Canadian ryes were what was primarily consumed during Prohibition. When rye first started to come back into popularity in the early 2000s, more producers started putting stock away, giving us the bounty that we can now enjoy. Basically, right now is the rye-ght time to be alive if you love rye.
No? Okay. Bad jokes aside, if you love the spicy characteristics that rye grains give to whiskies, the world is pretty much your oyster. With so many, though, the question that will inevitably arise is: Which do I pick?
Below, we’ve pulled together some of the best rye whiskies under $50. You may not be able to get all of these everywhere in the country, but you’re more than likely to find them. (Note: The prices that we’ve listed are an average, so they may vary slightly depending on where you are.)
Old Overholt $15
One of the rye whiskies that has been around the longest. Dating back to the early 1800s, Old Overholt has produced a quality rye for a very long time. Solid price point and a taste that won’t turn your stomach, you can’t go wrong, especially if you’re on a budget.
High West’s Double Rye! may not be something that they themselves have distilled, but you’ll realize that means little when you taste Double Rye! A blend of two-year-old and sixteen-year-old rye whiskies, Double Rye! is a sweet and spicy whiskey that somehow manages to have both the liveliness of youth and the complexity of age going for it.
What makes George Dickel Rye stand out from the rest is the Lincoln County Process—charcoal filtering that they do to make their Tennessee whisky. When the rye is put through that filtration process, it produces a smooth texture that also manages to keep the spicy characteristics of the rye.
Sazerac Rye $30
Heard of the Sazerac cocktail. Well, this is the namesake rye whiskey that goes in it. Sazerac’s grown in popularity over the years, especially in and around New Orleans, for good reason. It’s great in cocktails, but also makes a fine sipping rye.
Spice is the predominant flavor people use to describe rye whiskies and in Bulleit’s small batch rye, you will find that in full effect, as the grain bill consists of 95-percent rye grains. That being said, Bulleit’s rye manages to be soft and round at times, making for a great all-around rye.
Made in one of the more historical rye styles of the US—Old Monongahela Rye—Dad’s Hat is, perhaps surprisingly to most, aged only six months. What helps this, though is that the aging occurs in 50-liter casks (much smaller than the standard 200-liter size). What comes out is a bright rye whiskey that is full of fruit and spice notes and a good look at what used to be consumed.