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What Bartenders Should Know about Rye Whiskey

Distilled at no more than 160 proof, rye whiskey is a fermented mash or grain containing at least 51 percent rye. It's matured in new charred oak barrels for a minimum of two years. Rye has a strong, distinctive flavor.

For quite some time, rye has taken a back seat to bourbon in the preferences of American whiskey drinkers, but rye has seen a resurgence lately. Whiskey connoisseurs are rediscovering the old brands, and new ones are popping up as well. Here's a sampling of what's available:

  • Jim Beam Rye: 80 proof.

  • Jim Beam Jacob's Ghost: 80 proof.

    Note: Although it's technically a rye, Jacob's Ghost is actually a white whiskey. White whiskey, which is bottled before the spirit is aged in barrels, is different from the white lightning corn whiskey and is something of a trendy category.

  • Koval: Aged in American oak from Minnesota; 80 proof.

  • Michter's Straight Rye: Aged in bourbon barrels for 4 years.

  • Old Overholt: One of the early brands of American straight rye; 4 years old and 80 proof.

  • Redemption Rye: 92 proof.

  • (ri)¹: New in 2008 by Jim Beam; bottled at 92 proof.

  • Rittenhouse: 80 and 100 proof.

  • Russell's Reserve Rye: 90 proof.

  • Templeton Rye: Produced in Iowa; 80 proof.

  • Thomas H. Handy Sazerac: 127.5 proof whiskey.

  • Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye: 95.6 proof and aged for 13 years.

  • WhistlePig Straight Rye: 100 proof.

  • Wild Turkey Rye: 80 proof.

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