With its recent renewed interest, rye is an exciting variety of American whiskey to explore at the moment. With distillers experimenting, creating, and reviving mash bills and techniques, it’s become a new frontier on the industry’s landscape.
Combining expressions for all budgets that are both rare and easy to find, this guide will offer you a selection to start any collection by presenting you with the top 10 best rye whiskey brands that you can buy online:
- Whistlepig 12-Year-Old World Cask Rye
- High West Double Rye
- Hudson Manhattan Rye Whiskey
- Highspire Rye Whiskey
- Bulleit Rye Frontier Whiskey
- Old Forester Rye Whiskey
- Russell’s Reserve 6-Year Small Batch Rye
- Saint Liberty Josephine’s Flat Head River Rye Whiskey
- Rittenhouse Bottled-in-Bond Straight Rye
- Old Overholt Straight Rye Whiskey
Scroll down to see them all or jump ahead using the links above.
What Are The Best Rye Whiskey Brands?
See The Best Rye Whiskey Cocktails
WhistlePig is a relatively young brand that has embraced the New England heritage of rye whiskey. It first operated in 2007 when its founders converted an old dairy farm into a dedicated rye distillery after blending 10-year old Canadian whiskey to fund its launch.
Rather than primarily a bourbon distiller that dabbles in rye, WhistlePig is dedicated to the spicy grain. It has resulted in exciting expressions such as its 12-year bottling that’s first aged in new oak before being finished in Madeira, Sauternes, and Port casks.
The result is a remarkably complex whiskey that first started as a limited run and thanks to continued success, has become the flagship entry of its classic line. If you’re looking for a premium rye experience, it’s our first choice.
"What started as a limited-run experiment has resulted in an emlematic rye that showcases the whiskey's potential in the premium market."
Although a traditionally northeastern beverage, High West has proven that even frontier distilleries will excel in quality rye whiskey. Double Rye is a remarkably affordable expression that offers an experience that provides veritable value.
It’s the fruit of blending two-year-old and seven-year-old straight rye whiskey, which both feature very high rye content. One is arguably 100% rye since 20% of it is rye malt.
The process results in a herbaceous profile with notes of pine, hay, and delicate spices, which themselves consist of vanilla, cinnamon, and honey.
The Tuthilltown Gristmill represents the first active New York distillery since Prohibition. Built in 1788, it overlooks the New York metropolitan area yet is cosily tucked away in the quiet countryside.
Although a young spirit, the Manhattan rye is cleverly aged in small oak barrels that allow for greater contact between the wood and distillate. The 100% white dog is aged in small casks of different sizes and then blended back together to produce a distinctive flavour.
Another young 100% rye grain whiskey, Highspire displays the flavours that you can expect from a very short ageing period. Interestingly, it uses American oak wine barrels from California rather than new oak casks.
Even after just four months, you will encounter a somewhat vinous flavour profile. The ageing process is also accelerated through a proprietary technique of adding oak staves into the barrels. While still youthful, it’s surprisingly complex!
Revived by his great-great-grandson in 1987 who continues to use the same recipes, this whiskey brand was first created by Augustus Bulleit. Since he was a tavern keeper at the time, Bulleit has opted for a “frontier” whiskey image.
Bulleit is a great specimen of spicy rye whiskey. It features a candied citrus opening reminiscent of marmalade that’s extended by additional notes of ginger. Meanwhile, the overall experience can be defined by caramel and vanilla with a long leather finish.
Old Forester is the first brand featured in this list that is best known for its bourbon. Indeed, that was created in 1870 by George Garvin Brown, a pharmacist who went on to found the Brown-Forman Corporation.
However, its rye is a particularly new release that was first launched in 2019. It is produced from a mash bill that consists of 65% rye, 20% malted barley, and 15% corn.
Not only does it use quite a high rye percentage but the expression features an impressive dose of malted barley, too. As a result, it’s a softer and slightly more savoury whiskey with a rounded and balanced flavour.
A project by Wild Turkey, Russell’s Reserve pays homage to the father-son master distiller team of Jimmy and Eddie Russell. Together, they have dedicated over 100 years to the distillery.
Although featuring a heavy rye mash bill, its spicy profile is quite subtle and features flavours more reminiscent of caramel and vanilla with just a touch of leather.
Since it won’t be as overt as the other options in this list, it’s a great rye whiskey for beginners to try so that they may become familiar with what it offers.
Spearheaded by Dia Simms, former president of Combs Enterprises who is known for brands like Ciroc, Aquahydrate, Sean John, and Bad Boy Entertainment, Saint Liberty pays homage to the women of whiskey.
This exciting brand embraces artisanal craftsmanship and heritage while simultaneously ensuring a forward-thinking vision. Indeed, Mark SoRelle, its founder and chief historian, has painstakingly created a meaningful new whiskey brand.
Saint Liberty partners with relevant distillers for its of its expressions. In this case, Flat Head River Rye honours Josephine Doody, the “Bootleg Lady of Glacier Park” who was pursued by Federal Agents after killing a man in a dance hall.
Although the brand is based in Texas, the expression itself a 5-year old Tennessee rye whiskey that was blended in Montana. It features sweet vanilla notes with hints of charred wood and grilled stone fruits.
Although it’s now made in Kentucky by Heaven Hill, Rittenhouse continues to honour the classic Pennsylvania roots. It’s a true bottled-in-bond whiskey, which means that it was made by a single distiller in one season and has been aged under US government supervision.
Consequently, it’s also bottled at precisely 50% ABV. It’s one of only two bottled-in-bond rye whiskeys on the market and offers a fruity flavour profile that consists of peaches, dried banana as well as the rye’s characteristic spice.
Although its Pennsylvania distillery shut down in 1958, Old Overholt may take the credit for being the oldest continuously maintained whiskey brand in the USA.
While it’s not the finest whiskey on this list, it’s certainly the cheapest and given its heritage, it deserves all the respect that it receives.
Where To Buy Rye Whiskey In The USA?
Although it was once the USA’s most popular alcoholic spirit, rye whiskey heavily suffered under Prohibition. Few distillers survived the period and rye whiskey’s prevalence waned throughout the 20th century.
It, therefore, became quite hard to find and while liquor stores would sell one or perhaps two expressions of rye, it was a surprising rarity. However, the bourbon boom has greatly benefitted the American whiskey landscape as a whole.
With renewed interest in other historical American productions, old brands have been revived while new ones have been created. Indeed, it’s an exciting time for distillers and consumers alike!
Consequently, you’ll likely find a greater variety of whiskeys in liquor stores. Indeed, most will offer a choice of several rye whiskeys. Of course, bourbon remains the king, though. As such, rye risks being an afterthought for some.
Nevertheless, the internet, a contributor in itself to the bourbon boom thanks to unprecedented access to information, offers a solution.
There are many retailers that will deliver alcoholic spirits throughout the USA and some even specialise in American whiskey. For instance, Reserve Bar has a great selection of bourbon as well as rye whiskey.
While its prices are admittedly higher, it has a nicely curated range of whiskeys with each one offering a unique experience.
Otherwise, you may be surprised to learn that Wine.com also has an excellent selection of liquor. Its catalogue may well compete with the likes of Reserve Bar and its prices tend to be more reasonable.
Finally, you may have heard of Drizly. This intuitive site partners with local liquor stores so it can quickly deliver products to your door. There’s a key upside here in that it allows you to discover local shops that may sell good whiskey.
The disadvantage, however, is that if you live in an isolated area, the selection may be severely limited.
Now that you have read about the beset rye whiskey brands, why don’t you check out more of our resources?