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Feb 23, 2011 12:10 PM

Rye Whisky

I just saw "The Lost Weekend" a couple of weeks ago and it made me interested in Rye. (The drinking part, not the alcoholic writer part). My local liquor store only carried Jim Beam which was about 16 bucks, so I knew it wouldn't be the best example, but I thought it was relatively enjoyable overall, a nice break from bourbon. Last week I went to a different store and bought Redemption Rye, which I enjoyed a great deal more. Can anyone tell me which are their favorites and where they can be purchased? (I'm in New England). Thanks!

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  1. I used to purchase Rye only to make Manhattans, but lately, have been drinking it neat (like bourbon) and enjoy it very much. That said, most stores' rye selection will be limited relative to bourbon or scotch. If you don't have any specialty stores in your area, you might be best off ordering online. That said, here are some of my favorites (in ascending price):

    OLD OVERHOLT RYE ($16) - Pretty basic budget rye - similar to the Jim Beam
    WILD TURKEY RYE 101 ($20) - I thought this was very good for the money - good bite, and makes a great manhattan
    RITTENHOUSE RYE 100 ($22) - For the money, probably my favorite rye. Prefer this to Sazerac (below), especially for $6 less.
    SAZERAC RYE WHISKEY ($28) - In my experience, this is the standard "premium" rye that most good bars will stock - overall, it's very good, but not worth the $6 premium over the Rittenhouse.
    MICHTERS SINGLE BARREL STRAIGHT RYE ($45) - A real premium small batch/single barrel rye - wouldn't use this to mix; only drink neat to really enjoy the nuances.

    Cask in San Francisco carries most/all of these, and I believe they ship nationwide. Also, K&L Wine Merchants and Astor Wines carry rye whiskey and will ship.

    5 Replies
    1. re: kyoung05

      Thanks for the great info! I don't really do mixed drinks, so I've been enjoying my rye as a good ole sippin whisky. I'll definitely be on the lookout for Rittenhouse. Unfortunately, I can't get liqour shipped to Massachusetts from out of state.

      1. re: kyoung05

        As a fellow resident of Massachusetts, I sympathise with your complaint -- but all of the whiskeys kyoung05 has mentioned are widely available in Massachusetts. I agree with his ratings -- my go-to high-proof (100) rye is Rittenhouse (but I like the Wild Turkey too). I also am very fond of the widely-available Sazerac. Although there are periodic shortages, all are available at such outlets as Marty's (Newton), Blanchard's (Allston), Julio's (Westborough), Kappy's (Peabody), and the like. I will say that I find Old Overhold quite satisfactory as a mixing workhorse whiskey as well; but I find myself going for the Rittenhouse more often. Maybe it's the higher proof -- I'm not sure.

        1. re: johncb

          Great, I'm 20 minutes from Julio's. I never looked much at their liqour selection, just wine, but I figured they'd have at least a few to choose from. Looks like I'll have to pick up a bottle of Rittenhouse this weekend. Thanks for the input!

          1. re: jackbauer

            @jackbauer Julio's also has whiskey tastings of various types on Wednesday nights, you might want to check that out. I like Old Overholt for cocktails to, but prefer Rittenhouse 100 when I can get it as it has a bit more depth, spicy notes than OO. Julio's usually carries both, but run out of both just as fast. Lot's of bars/restaurants use these for their cocktails around here. Also, you can get a large, over 750 ml bottle of OO at the Wegmans in Northboro for $14.99.

        2. re: kyoung05

          kyoung: If you are in the Bay Area, you also have potential access to a spirit from Iowa called Templeton Rye. If you ever get a chance to try it, I think you won't be disappointed.

        3. The original comment has been removed
          1. I'm reviving my likes for whisky - drank a lot of it when I became legal but that was mostly entry level stuff. I like Bulleit Rye for everyday swigging, and I'm nursing the Thomas H. Handy Sazerac for more special times.

            2 Replies
            1. re: bulavinaka

              Just tried Bulleit a couple days ago. Yum!

              1. re: tiberiusj

                I just ordered it online last week, since it's not in my state yet - looking forward to trying it.

            2. Jim Beam rye is respectable. It may not be amazing, but it is very drinkable. My latest fav is the new Bulleit Rye. Whistle Pig is great, but very pricey. Not as expensive, and excellent are the Van Winkle Family ryes, they come in several ages.

              4 Replies
              1. re: JMF

                I've had the Beam and liken to a drinkable rye as well. Just took a taste of the Bulliet Rye last night - not bad! Strange that both Bulliet and Redemption are 95% but I found Redemption to have a much more subtle flavor with loads more character. My current favorite is the Sazerac 18. I've yet to try a Van Winkle. Been hard to find that down here in Miami, the rye at least...

                1. re: Blind Mind

                  I buy the 6 year old Sazerac and really like it just bought the Sazerac 18 and it is insanely good but 89.00 for a 750 is a lot. Most people up here in Canada buy Crown Royal for Manhattans very smooth not as much flavour as the American ryes. Haven't tried the Van Winkle family have to wait for my next trip to Buffalo. Strange Luxardo Maraschino is getting hard to find these days, the owner of Supermarket Liquors in Niagara Falls says its too expensive to carry. Anyone in Niagara or Buffalo know of a liquor store that carries Luxardo?

                  1. re: TheDewster

                    I paid $75 for my Sazerac 18 and yes that's high but limited edition, etc... I would never mix it with anything.

                    1. re: TheDewster

                      Luxardo is available now yah! and so is Rittenhouse 100 Rye oh happy day!

                2. My favorite Rye is made by Koval out of Chicago. It's not aged, so it might not be what you are looking for, but damn is it good. It's hard to find since I think that it is only distributed in Chicago so you'd have to find an online liquor store in Chicago to get some. (Their Ginger liqueur is also amazing.)


                  2 Replies
                  1. re: eatanddestroy

                    Koval is good. What's really cool, if you get to try their white, light wood and dark wood at the same time. Get an idea of what different char levels on barrels do to the whiskey.

                    1. re: orangedave

                      I didn't know that they were now aging whiskey. I'm going to have to get one of my friends in Chicago to send me a bottle of each. Thanks for the heads up.