Once upon a time… rye whiskey was the whiskey in the United States, distilled by no less than George Washington (amongst others) and drunk by people like Humphrey Bogart. It was such a signature drink that classic cocktails such as the Manhattan were created especially for it.
But then… the increasing popularity of Bourbon, single malt Scotch, and other spirits such as vodka led to a decline in the rye whiskey distilling industry, and it faded from the national consciousness, apart from a few distillers (like Jim Beam and Wild Turkey) who resolutely produced rye on a small scale.
But now… rye has returned. Resurrected and revived. Whisk(e)y connoisseurs have brought the drink back, ever curious to try new (albeit re-inventions of old) whiskey. The only problem? Distillers were slow to catch up to changes in demand. Given that whiskey is not something that is produced overnight, consumers will have to wait a few years until rye becomes more readily available.
The wait will be worth it. In fact, get yourself some of the few bottles available now if you can. Compared to the sweet flavour of Bourbon, rye whiskey has a peppery spicy overtone. It is a big and bold whiskey. By law, it must contain at least 51% rye, and, like Bourbon and Tennessee whiskey, must be aged in new charred oak barrels.
You may have heard Canadian whiskey referred to as rye, probably because it was historically made from the stuff. Today, though, most Canadian brands use only a small amount of rye in their grain mixture.
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