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Discover the Best Rye Whiskey | Affordable Options & Top Shelf Options

What is Rye Whiskey

If you're a whiskey aficionado or just a casual drinker who is curious about the different types of whiskey, then rye whiskey might be one that you've heard of. Rye whiskey is similar to bourbon, but it's made with at least 51% rye grain instead of corn. This gives it a spicy, sometimes fruity flavor that sets it apart from other types of whiskey. It's been around since the colonial days when American farmers were growing rye crops abundantly. In fact, George Washington himself even operated a rye whiskey distillery. Rye whiskey has seen a resurgence in popularity in recent years as more people try to switch up their whiskey preferences and explore new flavors.

The Best Rye Whiskey | Affordable Options Under $100

Raise your glasses, whiskey lovers! I have a list of amazing rye whiskeys that won't break the bank. Rye whiskey is a classic American spirit with a long history, and these affordable options will make you feel like you're taking a sip of history without draining your wallet. From spicy to smooth, each of these whiskeys has its unique flavor to tantalize your taste buds. Sipping on a dram of rye whiskey is a great way to relax after a long day, and with these options, it won't cost you an arm and a leg. So, why not treat yourself to a fantastic rye whiskey without breaking the bank? It's time to explore my favorite/affordable options and add some new classics to your home bar.

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Pikesville Straight Rye Whiskey

Crafted by Heaven Hills Co-Master Distiller Denny Potter, Pikesville Straight Rye Whiskey is an exceptional creation. It combines rye, corn, and barley to deliver the distinctive spiciness reminiscent of traditional Maryland rye whiskies. What sets it apart is the careful selection of six-year-old barrels from high-storage, plus setting the proof just right to amplify the delightful barrel character without overpowering the spicy grain notes.

This results in Pikesville Straight Rye Whiskey, boasting a captivating pale copper color and an enticing aroma of dark cocoa and burnt oak. When you take a sip, you'll be immersed in layers of honey, clover, and white chocolate, leading to a memorable finish highlighted by hints of vanilla bean, butterscotch candy, maple syrup, and caramel. It's no wonder that Pikesville Rye Whisky earned a well-deserved Double Gold at the 2015 San Francisco World Spirits Competition and an impressive 95 points at the 2015 Ultimate Spirits Challenge. This one is probably the best rye whiskey for the money and a great place to start if you are new to the world of rye whiskey.

Russell's Reserve Rye Whiskey

Russell's Reserve 6-Year-Old Small Batch Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey is made using a generations-old recipe. The rye is distilled at a lower proof than other Kentucky distilleries, resulting in less water dilution before maturation. Aged for a minimum of six years in heavily charred American oak casks, the unique maturation process contributes bold flavors of honey, wood tannins, and cinnamon, complementing the spicy rye notes.

The individual casks are carefully hand-selected by Russell and his son, Eddie, who have over 90 years of combined whiskey-making experience. Finally, the whiskey is bottled by hand after reaching the desired proof. This exceptional rye whiskey has been recognized with a Double Gold Medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, earning the title of "Best Rye Whiskey," and receiving an outstanding score of 96-100 points from Wine Enthusiast.

If you need some great whiskey glasses, I highly recommend this Glencairn Set and the Libbey Signature Kentucky Bourbon Trail set below. These are my go-to glasses for whiskey tasting.

Glencairn Glasses

Libbey Glasses with wooden paddle

High West Rendezvous Rye Whiskey

Discover the robust character of High West's High Rye Drifter, a select spirit born in the heart of the Rocky Mountains. Nestled in Park City, Utah, High West emerged as a beacon of distilling craftsmanship in 2007 with founder David Perkins at the helm—a nod to its pioneering spirit as Utah's first legally licensed distillery post-Prohibition. The passionate artisans at High West honor traditional methods, distilling in small, attentive batches. While renowned for their expertise in sourcing and blending exceptional spirits, a portion of their collection is lovingly distilled in-house—a testament to their commitment to quality and flavor.

The Rendezvous expression represents a masterful dance between two distinct straight Rye Whiskies, united by their predominant rye heritage yet each bringing its own story. A bold 6-year-old whiskey boasts an impressive 95% rye mash bill, delivering a spirited zest. It's gracefully paired with a mellow 16-year-old whiskey, its 80% rye composition evoking the deep wisdom of age. Together, their flavors intertwine, creating a symphony where the younger rye's vibrant energy complements the aged rye's profound complexity—the pure essence of rye crystallized in a glass. Immerse yourself in a Rye that speaks volumes, where each sip reveals the lore of the mountains and the unwavering dedication of High West Distillery. The High Rye Drifter awaits your discovery.

Use my exclusive discount code: WHISKEYFOOL10 to receive $10 off qualifying* orders. Copy and paste to use at checkout.

*$100 or more

Knob Creek Rye Whiskey

Knob Creek, renowned for their impressive array of whiskeys and bourbons, has become a beloved staple among spirit connoisseurs. The renaissance of Rye Whiskey has been nothing short of remarkable, and Knob Creek's contribution with its small batch rye is a testament to this revival. A tapestry of bold rye weaves harmoniously with subtle oak and vanillin whispers, crafting a symphony for the senses that has rightfully earned its place at the pinnacle of whiskey admiration.

While the age remains a mysterious element – an exercise in patience as indicated on its label – and the grains' origins kept under wraps, acknowledged only as the 'finest quality rye', there's little wonder as to why this whiskey clinched the title of "Best Rye Worldwide Whiskey" at the 2016 International Wine and Spirits Competition. Whether you're a whiskey aficionado or new to the realm of ryes, Knob Creek Rye Whiskey promises an experience rich with heritage and flavor.

Angel's Envy Rum Cask Finished Rye Whiskey

Discover the exceptional Angels Envy Rye, a whiskey aficionado’s delight, with its exclusive bi-annual release that marks the seasons of harvest and renewal. Each small batch is meticulously finished in select Plantation XO Rum Casks, which carry the legacy of aged French cognac within their wooden staves. The result? A magnificent confluence where the untamed spice of rye gracefully dances with the suave sweetness of premium rum, delivering a sip that's layered with intrigue and sophistication.

It's this signature complexity that sets it apart as one of my top rye whiskey recommendations—often within reach for those who appreciate a true gem in the world of spirits. Warm, inviting, and rich in detail, this rye was crafted to please the discerning whiskey drinker. Indulge in a glass of Angels Envy Rye and savor the extraordinary journey of flavors that awaits. I love the way the rum enhances the rye in this bottle. See my in-depth review of Angel's Envy Rye here. Just buy this one! You won't be disappointed.

Wild Turkey Rare Breed Rye Whiskey

 Experience the epitome of craftsmanship with Wild Turkey's Rare Breed – a collection that has captured the hearts of whiskey connoisseurs and the acclaim of critics globally. Each bottle is a bacchanal of awards, boasting Double Gold Medals from the San Francisco World Spirits Competition and Gold Medals from the International Wine & Spirits Competition, among a long list of other accolades.

Rare Breed's rye whiskey, bottled at a robust 112.2 proof, is a masterful addition to the distillery's eminent barrel-proof range. Unfiltered and uncut, this whiskey delivers an intricate flavor profile that I absolutely love. This is a great product and one of the best rye whiskey deals out there. See my in-depth review of Wild Turkey Rare Breed Rye here.

Willett Family Estate 4-year Rye Whiskey

Discover the bold taste and rich history of Willett Family Estate's 4-Year-Old Small Batch Rye. This Rye Whiskey delivers a punch of plums on the palate, reflecting the Willett family's whiskey-making legacy dating back to the 1700s. Handcrafted at the new Willett Distilling Company since 2012, each batch boasts unique flavors at a cask-strength proof. At just 4 years old this whiskey delivers a rich and complex experience. Enjoy the tradition and craftsmanship in every sip.

Use my exclusive discount code: WHISKEYFOOL10 to receive $10 off qualifying* orders. Copy and paste to use at checkout.

*$100 or more

The Best Rye Whiskey | Top Shelf/Premium Options (Above $100)

For the true connoisseur on the hunt for excellence, this curated list of top-shelf rye whiskies represents the pinnacle of craftsmanship and flavor. These bottles may require a bit more effort and investment to locate, but the reward is a tasting experience that transcends the ordinary. Each dram is a testament to the distiller's art—a balance of robust, spicy notes perfected by time and tradition. Savoring these will not only delight your palate but also affirm that the best things in life are worth pursuing. Whether you’re expanding your collection or seeking that exceptional gift, these rye whiskies promise to be the crowning jewels of any whiskey cabinet. You are unlikely to find any of these at your local liquor store unless you win a liquor lottery. Typically, if you want one of these you will have to pay a secondary market price for them.

Van Winkle Family Reserve 13 Year Rye Whiskey

Honoring the legacy of a distilling pioneer, Van Winkle Bourbons delivers a revered rye whiskey that is sure to delight enthusiasts and aficionados alike. With each sip, you'll be part of a distinguished American whiskey tradition. Crafted with passion in the rolling hills of Kentucky, this esteemed rye has matured for over 13 years, securing its place as one of the oldest ryes available today. Although it’s rare to find on store shelves, this storied bottle offers a sumptuous discovery for those fortunate enough to enjoy its deep and rich flavors.