Spirits & Liqueurs Rye Whiskey

11 New Rye Whiskeys to Try Right Now

These bottles touch on a whole range of controversial topics.

Rye whiskey bottles

Liquor.com / Laura Sant

Until recently, rye was a relatively straitlaced category, prized as a throwback to pre-Prohibition drinking days and usually designated for Manhattans and other booze-forward classic cocktails at high-end bars. 

But the latest crop of ryes show that the category has really loosened up and is starting to show more personality, as well as more diversity in how the spirit is made. It’s all still rye whiskey at heart, meaning that it’s made with at least 51% rye grain in the mash bill.

The following bottles reference politics, religion (a kosher-certified rye) and even death (a gimmicky bottling flavored with maple syrup derived from trees grown in soil that also contains human remains)—all topics traditionally taboo at the average cocktail party. In terms of production techniques, these new bottles include ryes finished in casks that previously held peach brandy, port or rum. And some rye producers are taking a page from bourbon’s playbook, releasing single casks and limited-edition bottlings. 

The “speakeasy” association may have sparked rye’s renaissance, but these bottles show that rye whiskey has a much greater range.

  • Buffalo Trace Kosher ($40)

    Buffalo Trace Kosher rye

    Liquor.com / Laura Sant

    Buffalo Trace distillery says it believes this to be the first authentic kosher whiskey, created under the guidance of the Chicago Rabbinical Council. It was first released in April 2020, in time for Passover, and is anticipated to be an annual release around the same time each year going forward. What’s in the bottle is otherwise similar to the distillery’s traditional rye, aged eight years and bottled at 94 proof.

  • Catoctin Creek Peach Barrel Finished ($46)

    Catoctin Creek Peach Barrel Finished rye

    Liquor.com / Laura Sant

    This bottling starts with Catoctin’s Barrel Select rye whiskey, made from a mash bill of 100% Virginia rye, aged in charred new oak barrels, then finished for over a year in a barrel that previously held the distillery’s Short Hill Mountain peach brandy. “This is rich and fruity and delicious in a way that reminds you of the best of summer’s fruit,” says its producer. The limited edition of 540 bottles was released in November 2020.

  • Crown Royal 16 Year ($70)

    Crown Royal 16 Year

    Liquor.com / Laura Sant

    This limited-edition expression is the fifth and newest edition in the Noble Collection, released on an annual basis to highlight the Canadian whisky producer’s various techniques and styles. This one spotlights bold rye grain front and center; the producer describes the whiskey as warming, with hints of cherry, cinnamon anise and clove.

  • Graverobber Unholy ($65, 200 mL bottle)

    Graverobber Unholy rye

    Liquor.com / Laura Sant

    One of the weirder new ryes, this was put out by Tamworth Distilling in New Hampshire as a limited-edition Halloween 2020 release. It’s flavored with maple syrup curated from “gnarled trees grown amid graves of human remains on Great Hill Farm in New Hampshire” and “laid to rest” for three years, says its producer. If that’s not macabre enough, the bottle is available packaged in a wooden box shaped like a coffin.

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  • Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel 2020 Special Release Barrel Proof ($65)

    Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel 2020 Special Release Barrel Proof

    Liquor.com / Laura Sant

    Released in November 2020, this is a limited-edition run of just 200 barrels, joining Heritage Barrel releases from 2018 and 2019. This is a higher-octane version of the Jack Daniel’s Tennessee rye released in 2018, bottled at cask strength for even bolder rye flavor and peppery spice.

  • Kentucky Owl The Last ($300)

    Kentucky Owl The Last

    Liquor.com / Laura Sant

    This limited release is the fourth batch from master blender Dixon Dedman, who resurrected the brand, releasing his first batch in 2014, nearly 100 years after Prohibition closed the distillery his great-great-grandfather founded in 1879. The label combines ryes aged between 10 to 13 years, bottled at a whopping 112.8 proof. The producer describes this as a “very sweet and full-flavored blend,” with flavor notes spanning roasted almond, caramel brittle and spiced dark cherry.

  • Mic Drop ($85)

    Mic Drop rye

    Liquor.com / Laura Sant

    After releasing stunning small-batch bourbons under the Mic Drop label, keep an eye on this first rye from PM Spirits. Sourced from Wilderness Trail distillery in Danville, Kentucky, this is a nearly five-year-old whiskey with a mash bill of 56% rye, 33% corn and 11% malted barley, bottled at 108 proof. It’s the first time the distillery has allowed its juice to be bottled outside of its own brand. This limited edition comprises a mere five casks.

  • The Presidential Dram Two Term Straight ($115)

    The Presidential Dram Two Term Straight

    Liquor.com / Laura Sant

    Along with a single-barrel bourbon, this single-barrel rye is a limited-edition release from Proof & Wood to celebrate the U.S. presidential election and inauguration. The rye is at least eight years old—the length of two presidential terms—distilled and aged at MGP Indiana and bottled at barrel proof. A total of four barrels were bottled and will be available primarily in Washington, D.C., and limited amounts will be available at select retailers around the country.

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  • Purpose ($70)

    Purpose rye

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    A partnership between Washington, D.C.’s Republic Restoratives distillery and filmmaker Eric D. Howell (“The Revolution of Cassandra”), this is a single-barrel expression with a limited run of 100 barrels. It’s a whopping 95% rye mash bill aged for nearly five years. The producer describes the flavor profile as rich caramel and spice, with hints of smoke and cocoa nibs. Each bottle sends a donation directly to Fair Fight, which protects free and fair elections around the country. It seems like an apt collaboration for a scrappy women-owned distillery best known for making Rodham rye, named for presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton.

  • Redemption Rum Cask Finish ($45)

    Redemption Rum Cask Finish

    Liquor.com / Laura Sant

    You don’t see many rum-finished ryes. This one spotlights Redemption rye, made with a rye content of 95%, finished in Plantation rum barrels. The end result, released in October 2020, offers “dried fruit and baking spice,” according to its producer, and should make for some unique tropical drink variations. 

  • Virgil Kaine Ribbon Rail ($68)

    Virgil Kaine Ribbon Rail

    Liquor.com / Laura Sant

    This North Charleston, South Carolina, whiskey house created its latest bottling with a blend of two MGP-made ryes, aged four and five years, plus a measure of barley toasted to chocolate-porter-like tones, courtesy of Charleston neighbor Revelry Brewing Co. It’s all married together to create a chocolate-cherry-accented whiskey with a distinctly Southern pedigree.