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Best easy drinking Rye for an Old-Fashioned Cocktail?

First I want to say that when I smell and taste or Rye, Bourbon and Whiskey on its own, i want to gag.

Last week when I was travelling Europe and a customer bought me an Old-Fashioned and I was dreading having to drink it. I tasted it and it was actually really really good. I completely forgot to ask the bartender what Rye they used.

I want to try making it at home but I would like to find a nice easy to drink Rye. Please give me ideas (preferably something I can get from the LCBO in Canada).

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  1. I have been happy to see rye get some attention recently. It seems there are more and more artisan distillers making interesting rye whiskies. But I guess that makes your search harder, filiberto! Old Overholt Straight Rye Whiskey is our "everyday" rye; nothing fancy, but nice rye flavor. I'm not a big Old Fashioned fan, but I do like a rye Manhattan now and then with a lemon peel, no cherry.

    2 Replies
    1. re: stretchc1

      Old Overholt isn't available in Canada it seems!

      1. re: filiberto

        When Jim Beam bought Old Overholt in 1987, they soon closed down the distillery and started making OO a little differently. It has been surmised that it's the same mash as Jim Beam Rye but aged differently.


    2. Look for Rittenhouse 100 or Sazerac 6 yr.

      10 Replies
      1. re: OldFashionedWhiskey

        Big, big second to the Rittenhouse. That stuff is fantastic. No idea if you'll be able to get it up there or not, though.

        1. re: Josh

          Ritt 100 is very good but I would hardly call it easy drinking, it's rather aggressive. Sazerac 6 yr is excellent but rather hard to find.

          Bulleit rye and Redemption Rye are a nice smooth (but flavorful) sipping ryes that would probably suit the original poster better. (My first thought was Old Overholt, which I don't particularly like because I find it too mild.)

          I haven't tried it but have heard that Jim Beam Rye is also quite mild.

          1. re: ncyankee101

            Overproof spirits like the Rittenhouse are great for cocktails like the Old Fashioned because they don't get excessively diluted. I've tried both Bulleit and Redemption for cocktail making and found them both a little milquetoast. YMMV.

            1. re: Josh

              I realize that - which is why I personally don't use them to mix, only sip - but as I said in my prior post, I am addressing the OP's question, who says:

              "when I smell and taste or Rye, Bourbon and Whiskey on its own, i want to gag" and " I would like to find a nice easy to drink Rye".

              It sounds to me like the OP is looking for a Rye that disappears into a drink, not one that stands out as Ritt 100 does.

              1. re: ncyankee101

                You're right, looking for something that mellows out a bit.

            2. re: ncyankee101

              I have used Jim Beam Rye in sazeracs to great effect for many, many yeas. It is not, obviously, a to-notch item but it is perfectly fine for a gathering. In the days befor the rye exploion,we also used to use Wild Turkey's rye butit is 101 so be VERY careful

              1. re: hazelhurst

                Note that the WT 101 is very hard to find these days, they are selling the 81 proof version for about the same price these days. I haven't tried it yet as I still have a couple bottles of the 101, so I can't address how assertive it is, but the 101 is my favorite mixing rye because it is quite spicy.

              2. re: ncyankee101

                hi yankee, I got myself some Bulleit and Redemption ryes and totally agree with your assessment. Great sipping ryes. Both around $23 here in NJ.

              1. re: filiberto

                That's it. Tres cher! It's $22 USD here. What you should do is find a few ryes that are available in your area, then go to a bar and ask for an old fashioned using a rye you're thinking of buying. That way you don't have to invest in a whole bottle. Just make sure you go somewhere that knows how to make your drink right!

            3. I really, really like Michters US #1 Straight Rye in an Old Fashioned. It's smooth, not super complex, but has enough backbone to stand up to the bitters/sugar. It makes a very nice and somewhat easygoing Old Fashioned as compared to Overholt or some of the higher proof whiskies already suggested.

              1. Ritt 100 is the Bartenders best friend. Nothing better. Sazarac is good too.

                6 Replies
                1. re: Latinpig

                  He's asking for something smooth since regular whiskeys make him gag. Rittenhouse is a great rye but it is anything but gentle. Then again, it was a great rye at $18, but now it's selling for $30, but that's another story. RH100 can also dwarf other ingredients and while it can make a great Old Fashioned or Manhattan, it makes a horrible Brooklyn.

                  There are some smoother ryes out there. DSP mentioned Michters, and I'd add Templeton to that list. Sazerac 6 is somewhat smooth, and I won't mention how good Saz 18 is since it's impossible to find these days (I'm making my bottle from 2009 last).


                  1. re: yarm

                    Yarm - I'm making my 2009 Saz 18 last by not opening it LOL. I am torn between drinking it and reselling for a nice profit, likely will end up opening it.

                    I just ordered a bottle of Jefferson's Rye for $31, which I thought was a good price since it is $40 here, now I see it at Hitime for $26 - how does than one measure up? Looking forward to trying it.

                    Rittenhouse is $30 in some areas? I am going to have my friend bring me back a couple from Atlanta where it is still $18.

                    1. re: ncyankee101

                      IMHO, life is too short to sell interesting spirits for a profit. Pop it open tonight. At least, that's what I'd do. But no way would I make an Old Fashioned or any other cocktail with it.

                      Jefferson's Rye is decent. It has a slight solvent/acetone note that I find to be extremely distracting when drinking it straight. (Some people read it as minty; not sure why I get solvent instead.) By the way, it's from the same stock as both WhistlePig and Masterson's, both of which are twice as expensive. Unfortunately, I didn't do my research and bought a $60 bottle of Masterson's, which tastes absolutely identical to me. (WhistlePig seems significantly sweeter/heavier than either of the others.)

                    2. re: yarm

                      $30? I get it for around $20-23.

                      1. re: Josh

                        And it costs me $50 in British Columbia :/

                        1. re: thatwhileifound

                          But you guys have free health care, gotta pay that piper somehow. I could have bought a lot of liquor with the $300 I paid last time I had my cholesterol checked and a little bloodwork done.

                  2. Thank you for the recommendations. I'm going to try a couple different ones at the bar this weekend.

                    1. For smooth and easy sipping, I'd go with Bulleit. I love a lot of the ryes mentioned in this thread, but they're not exactly ideal for someone who says they tend to hate ryes and bourbons. In my experience, Bulleit mixes in more softly in an Old-Fashioned as well as a Manhattan. It's smooth, and a touch sweeter than a lot of other ryes. If you could find it, I'd also suggest Old Overholt, which is somewhat thin and sweet IMO. For me, that means that given the choice I'd reach for a different bottle, but given your criteria, it might be a good choice.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: The Big Crunch

                        Crunch - I had also thought of Old Overholt first, but as the OP said further up the thread, it is not available to him in Canada.

                        For that matter he could almost use a Canadian or Irish Whiskey, as OO really reminds me of the bready sweet taste of those.

                      2. I wonder if it is possible that the kind of Rye is not what made it smooth to you, but the sugar.
                        Have you had an Old Fashioned before? The right amount of sugar is going to erase the "gag" factor.

                        1 Reply
                        1. I tried the George Dickel rye recently for a manhattan, and I think it would do nicely in an old fashioned. It has a softer rye spice character, no doubt due to the charcoal mellowing that TN whiskey gets (tho this rye is distilled in Indiana, later processed in Tennessee). It's a very pleasant rye that I can commend to you.

                          1. Go with Wisers special blend! in ontario its 23.40 for a 26oz bottle. great stuff and what you're looking for! final answer!
                            cheers, and you're welcome

                            1. On a recent snowy night in one of Boston's better bars I ordered a Sazerac and ginger and I really liked it. I am usually a bourbon drinker, Bulleit on the rocks is my current favorite, but this whiskey was better mixed with the gingerale than most bourbons.

                              1. any recipes to make an "Old-Fashioned" in bulk for a big party? Or is that cocktail blasphemy???!!!!

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: munchetta

                                  The problem would be correct dilution, assuming you're like me and stir it with ice before straining it over a single, enormous ice cube. Otherwise, you're just dealing with rye, bitter, and simple syrup, again, assuming you go the latter route over a muddled bitters soaked sugar cube.

                                  Just off the top of my head...

                                  20 servings of an Old Fashioned would equal:

                                  40 oz. rye
                                  60 dashes of angostura bitters
                                  5 oz. simple syrup

                                  Guessing between 1/4 oz. and 1/2 oz of dilution per drink, I'd say you add 4 oz. water as well.

                                  However, I also think the effects of the orange twist on the drink can't be overstated, so you'd also need 20 orange twists, or at the very least, a garnishing station for guests to garnish at their preference.

                                  1. re: The Big Crunch

                                    The dilution ratio you've quoted is a bit too low in my opinion. 25% or so is, I think, typical after properly stirring. So I you'd want maybe ~20% dilution from the water., then you'd want to keep the drink chilled prior to pouring it onto the ice cube, which would keep further dilution low enough to just about hit the mark. Of course another hurdle is going to be sourcing (or making) proper enormous ice cubes in enough volume.

                                    Overall I'd question whether it's a good idea to batch Old Fashioneds for a big party mainly because it's not really a good party drink. At least for me, Old Fashioned doesn't shout party. And because it's brown, bitter, and stirred, it's not going to have general appeal. Unless the party has a very specific crowd it's quite likely that not a lot of people will want to take even one drink, let alone come back for a second.

                                    I like the idea of the garnishing station, but if you're going to do that you might as well just let guests make their own drink start to finish. Have a bunch of varieties of bitters, various citrus peels, some sugar cubes, and maybe a selection of whiskies, genevers, and other interesting spirits out of which to make a drink. Could be fun. Still doesn't strike me as a real party hit though. Perhaps my idea of a party differs from munchetta's :-)

                                    1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                      Thanks Big Crunch and Davis
                                      I think we are leaning towards a garnishing station and "make your own OLD FASHIONED's ! We are going to have other party friendly batch cocktails so there will be something for everyone.
                                      thank you for your thoughts and input :)