Rye whiskies are hot.
Literally, the rye malt used in the whiskey — at least 51 percent — adds a nice spiciness to the spirit. But the category is skyrocketing; the Distilled Spirits Council reports that rye whiskey sales volume has grown 778 percent since 2009, with revenues jumping from $15 million to almost $160 million.
“American rye whiskey is retaking its rightful place among the world’s great distilled spirits, a place that was lost to Prohibition,” Distilled Spirits Council president and CEO Kraig R. Naasz said in a statement.
With the recent resurgence of bourbon, which also took a backseat for a period after Prohibition, it only makes since that rye is also making its presence felt in the spirits market once again. More and more distilleries are making and releasing rye whiskies. Here are some of the best released in the past few years.
This 15-year-old rye whiskey, released in 2016, is the oldest product in WhistlePig’s portfolio. The Vermont distillery ages the juice in Vermont oak, giving the spirit a complex mixture of butterscotch, tobacco, and leather notes. WhistlePig has an array of rye whiskies in its lineup as leadership believes rye “has the potential to be the best whiskey in the world.”
Graton Distilling Co. makes this unique blend of 60 percent rye whiskey and 40 percent bourbon in Northern California. To further add to the product’s complexity, some of the distillery’s rye is aged in port and wine barrels, fitting for the Sonoma County location.
Kentucky Peerless lived from 1889 to 1917, then was reborn in 2015 by the old owner’s great-grandson, Corky Taylor. The distillery released this spirit in 2017 after nearly two years of aging. Peerless touts a balanced maple, brown sugar, and citrus sweetness with no burn — great for sipping.
Minnesota-based Tattersall released its 100-percent Minnesota rye whiskey earlier this year. The spirit, which is aged for two years, has been the focus of the distillery since it was founded in 2015 with a focus on carefully made aged products. Tattersall is available in 17 states currently, and hopes to expand in 2019.
One of the nation’s legendary ryes, Old Overholt has been an inexpensive option in the category since the 1800s. This year, the distillery’s parent company, Beam Suntory, released a bottled-in-bond variety, the first in more than 50 years. The new product meets federal requirements of bottled-in-bond, meaning its aged four years and bottled at 100-proof from a single distillation year.