Rye whiskey is full bodied and spicy: perfect for cocktails of all kinds! Here’s more about it and some of the top drinks with this liquor.
It’s spicy, it’s peppery and it might grow a little hair on your chest: it’s rye whiskey! This variety of whiskey is popular for drinking straight up and including in cocktails. In fact, some of the most famous classic drinks are made with rye: think Manhattan and Sazerac. What exactly is this special type of liquor, and why use it in your drinks? We’ve got a quick look at what it is, some brands we love, and the top cocktails to use it. Keep reading!
What is rye whiskey?
Rye whiskey is a type of whiskey made with a majority of the grain rye. This term refers to either American rye whiskey, made of at least 51% rye mash, or Canadian whisky, which may or may not contain rye. Canadian regulations don’t require it to contain rye, though historically it did. Rye is known for its strong, spicy flavor.
Whiskey is a family of distilled liquor made by fermenting grain mash: wheat, rye, barley or corn. It’s then aged in wooden barrels, usually made of oak. There are many types of whiskey based on country and style of production, like bourbon, rye, Scotch, Japanese whisky, and Irish whiskey.
What does rye whiskey taste like?
Rye whiskey is full bodied and spicy, with a peppery finish. It’s much dryer than the flavor of bourbon, which is sweeter (and made of at least 51% corn).
How much alcohol is in rye whiskey? It ranges from 40% to 60% ABV (alcohol by volume), depending on the brand.
Why we like it
Rye whiskey is full bodied with a spicy finish. It’s great for whiskey lovers, but there are even some for whiskey beginners. Try the Ward 8, Whiskey Sour or Whiskey Ginger to make rye more palatable. If you love the spicy bite of rye, then go for a boozy cocktail like the Manhattan or Sazerac.
How much does it cost?
Compared to other liquors, rye whiskey is mid-priced. Quality and pricing varies. You can buy a mid-priced 750 ml bottle for $25 to $35. But the high end can go up to $700 plus.
What are some good brands of rye whiskey? We recommend Bulleit, Woodford Reserve, Knob Creek, and High West. Crown Royal is Canadian Rye Whisky.
Most popular rye whiskey cocktails
You can drink it straight up, but there are lots of popular rye whiskey cocktails. Here are the top picks:
Here are the secrets to the best Manhattan cocktail recipe! This easy classic cocktail is made with just three ingredients.
- 2 ounces (4 tablespoons) rye whiskey
- 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) sweet red vermouth
- 3 dashes Angostura or orange bitters
- Garnish: Luxardo cherry or other cocktail cherry
- Combine the whiskey, vermouth and bitters in a cocktail mixing glass (or any other type of glass). Fill the mixing glass with 1 handful ice and stir continuously for 30 seconds.
- Strain into a coupe or cocktail glass. Garnish with a cherry and serve.
- Category: Drink
- Method: Stirred
- Cuisine: Cocktails
Keywords: Rye whiskey, rye whiskey cocktails
More cocktail guides
Need more liquor guides? We’ve got them! Here’s all you need to know about home bartending:
- Absinthe Guide This formerly banned liquor is now in good graces.
- Aperol Guide and Campari Guide All you need to know about these Italian liqueurs.
- Baileys Guide All the ins and outs of Irish Cream.
- Chartreuse Guide This pale green liqueur is worth adding to your collection…here’s why.
- Cointreau Guide, Blue Curacao Guide, or Orange Liqueur Guide Citrus liqueurs…broken down.
- Galliano Guide Is this bright yellow liqueur worth buying?
- Grenadine Guide It’s mistaken as cherry, but this bright syrup has a secret.
- Fernet Branca Guide Here’s why people love this Italian bitter.
- Kahlua Guide Learn about this popular Mexican coffee liqueur
About the Authors
Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.
Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.