Here we are in the depths of one of the cruelest winters we've experienced in some time (and we thought April was the cruelest month). In these frigid depths we have nothing but or imaginations, our blankets, and our paramours to keep us warm. And our rye whiskey. Rye is a singularly robust spirit whose spicy and warming character goes a long ways towards warming a room, warming a heart, and reminding one of warm summers on wind-swept grain fields. With that in mind, a selection of our favorite rye whiskeys:
Bulleit Rye: for the price and the quality, it's hard to beat Bulleit Rye, one of the whiskeys that launched the rye renaissance. It has just a small percentage of barley to smooth out the rye and while it's Big Liquor made from Indiana and Big Liquor owned with Diageo, it's still hard to pass it up for anything else.
Copper Fox Rye: this rye comes out of Virginia and is unusual because it is aged in oak barrels and smoked not with peat smoke (as in Scotland for scotch whisky) but rather with apple and cherry wood, which gives the whiskey a fascinating fruit character we've never experienced anywhere else. The rye is smoothed out with barley, making it a great choice for those looking to branch out from scotch or Irish whiskey.
Corsair Ryemageddon: this is a fantastic adventure in chocolate malted rye, which is invests the dry whiskey with rich, deep chocolate flavors. This made an amazing Mint Julep that tasted just like a Girl Scout cookie (thin mint). Exciting and very well executed.
High West Double Rye: one of the most innovative but rock solid distilleries putting out whiskey comes from Utah, if you can believe it. The Double Rye is one of their best: a marriage of a long-aged blended rye and a much younger ("feisty") pure rye whiskey. This made one of the best Sazerac cocktails we've ever tasted.
James E Pepper 1776 Rye: a new discovery of ours this last year this is a 90% rye whiskey that's smoothed out just a touch with other grains. It's bottled at 100 proof so robust enough to stand up to any use be it ice or cocktail. We find it dry, dry, dry as the dusty deserts of TS Eliot's Wasteland ("I will show you fear in a handful of dust") and this is often regarded as a good thing by those who flee from sweet.
Knob Creek Rye: one of the most highly decorated rye whiskeys out there, Knob Creek is as solid a product as it gets and comes in at an unstinting and generously bottled 100 proof. Reports suggest it's a blend of grain with rye dominance plus the long-age and heavy char that Knob Creek is known for... a great choice for bourbon people and lovers of deep, wooded whiskey.
Old Potrero 18th Century Style Rye: coming out of San Francisco, this is a replica rye whiskey using very old-fashioned style. It is a 100% rye whiskey so every bit the spicy, robust character that enthusiasts crave. The light char on the barrel means the grain comes through rather than the wood. A rye for when you want to know you're drinking rye.