Rye whiskey making a come back? [moved from the Boston board]
I have heard that Rye whiskey is making a come back in small batch form from reading an article in Esquire mag. Does anybody know any bars or liquor stores selling this now on the South shore and what were your experiences with Rye if you have tried it?
Before prohibition, rye was America's whisky. It has a spicier and harsher taste than the Canadian blended whiskies that became popular during prohibition, and after the repeal it took a while for the rye distilleries to get back on their feet. First Canadian blended whisky, and now Irish/Scotch, took over the market.
Rye is making a comeback- in addition to Old Overholt and Jim Beam who have maintained production, I've seen small-batch rye from distilleries like Michter's. A lot of those seem overpriced to me. I love rye in a Manhattan, but it's no scotch and can't compete with scotch at that price point. I stick with Old Overholt for use in cocktails.
I will try Old Overholt if I can find it. Price is a concern. I do understand that these distilleries are charging more for the small batches they do make. I am a scotch and bourbon drinker and was curious about rye. Bourbon is sweet. I curious about the spicy character of rye after reading about it.
Here are some of the other drinks that were originally made with rye.
De La Louisiane
Funny you should ask. I had never bought a bottle of rye in my life before two weeks ago, when I decided to make Sazerac cocktails (which meant tracking down a bottle of Peychauds bitters, which I did, but that's another story). I opted for a bottle of Old Overholt rye as the main Saz ingredient. It's a bargain! About $10. And widely available. And great in a cocktail. Hmm. Think I'll whip up some old-fashioneds tonight. BTW, made Sazeracs with some pricey bourbon (Makers Mark) a week later, and I didn't enjoy them any more than the ones I'd made with the Old Overholt.
There's a truly great rye whiskey made by the Anchor Steam folks called Old Potrero Straight - but I wouldn't use it in a mixed drink. It's for sippin'. The company also makes a very traditional rye called Old Potrero 18th Century, and a barrel-aged rye called Hotaling's but I haven't tried those two. Their Junipero gin is also realllly good.
Hoatlings is excellent, but I don't think they are making it anymore; I think it was a limited run. I also enjoyed the 18th century, though not as much.
Old Potrero has a very distinct taste because it is single malt rye. That is, it is made from 100% malted rye, whereas the other ryes mentioned are cut with corn and other grains.
Two other great sippin' ryes are the Sazerac Ryes, Sazerac and Sazerac 18 year old, made by the Buffalo Trace distillery in Kentucky.
In terms of bang for the buck, it's hard to beat Rittenhouse 100, made by Heaven Hill distillery in Kentucky.
I wrote about the rye revival a year ago for Boston's Weekly Dig ("Squeegee Your Anomie with Rye Whiskey, Feb 21, 2007). A handful of serious bars in town have been featuring rye in old-school cocktails for a good long while now, and it is percolating slowly into other bars.
In my article, I identified a few rye cocktails at some of my favorite Boston-area bars:
Green Street -- the Daisy Black (an original, named after the owner's great-grandfather, himself a Golden Age bartender: Old Overholt, lemon juice, honey syrup); the Toronto (rye, Fernet Branca, simple syrup); the Double Standard (rye, Plymouth gin, lime juice, raspberry syrup); and Michter's neat.
Deep Ellum -- the Sazerac (Old Overholt, Peychaud's, simple syrup, a rinse of Absinthe); the Rye Sour (rye, fresh lemon juice, simple syrup); Old Potrero neat.
No. 9 Park -- the Green Point (Old Overholt, Punt e Mes vermouth, green Chartreuse); the Rye Flip (Rittenhouse rye, one whole raw egg, simply syrup).
I didn't mention them in my rye article, but Eastern Standard Kitchen belongs on this list. Their cocktail menu with brimming with terrific rye cocktails, notably the "Legacy - Lineage" section of Golden Age classics. I've also enjoyed rye cocktails at the B-Side Lounge, Highland Kitchen, The Biltmore, and The Alchemist.
I'm afraid I don't know of any South Shore bars that are up to the level of these places. Keep asking your favorite places if they carry rye; they'll eventually stop reaching for Canadian whisky (the most common spurious substitute for real rye) and catch on.
I had a rye/cointreau/orange bitters (rye club cocktail) last night that I enjoyed quite a bit. A little on the sweet side, but the next one will be better.
Try Templeton Rye...Al Capone's whiskey of choice. You got a problem with that? (hahaha) Seriously, it's good stuff.