From its simple throwback bottle design to approachable flavor profile and better than fair price, Sazerac Rye is an essential rye for everyone’s whiskey collection.
Sazerac Rye is often referred to as “Baby Saz,” as it shares the same general name, proof, and mashbill as Sazerac 18 Year, which is included in Buffalo Trace’s annual Buffalo Trace Antique Collection(BTAC) release. However, Sazerac Rye is much younger - while it has never carried an age statement, at one point it was marketed by Buffalo Trace as 6 years old. Sazerac Rye succeeds in offering a sweet, fruit-forward flavor profile complemented by a rye spice pop that develops in the finish. While others do the same, there is certainly enough variation among brands to leave room to allow Sazerac Rye’s subtle attributes to shine through. Baby Saz, as fans lovingly refer to it, is an essential rye whiskey that has stood the test of time. Given its approachable flavor profile and $30 price tag, it's absolutely a whiskey to include on anyone's must-have list.
A Good Match For: The value-based consumer
Not a Good Match For: Those looking a shock and awe rye
Value and approachability will make this rye a hit with everyone.
Redwood Empire Distilling is in the heart of the Russian River Valley wine region in Sonoma County, California. Emerald Giant is aptly named after the fastest growing Redwood tree in the world. With a focus on sustainability, for every bottle sold, Redwood Empire Distilling will plant a tree. The rye itself is an easy sipper that offers just the right amount of spice with an interesting cast of supporting flavors. It may not be the most complex of ryes, however, its approachable price tag along with its four year age statement makes this whiskey an easy bottle to recommend to anyone.
A Good Match For: The value-based consumer
Not a Good Match For: Those looking for a complex rye
A quirky all-rye mashbill delivers a memorable, rich sip from the heart of Texas.
Balcones has been a staple in the American whiskey scene now for over 10 years. Their claim to fame is their use of unique grains, and that is quite evident with Texas Rye. The use of multiple variations of rye grain pulls forward a flavor profile that is both unique and somehow feels appropriate coming from a Texas distillery. As a result, Balcones Texas Rye is unlike any other rye currently in the marketplace. The sip provides the spice that rye lovers crave, but with the bold addition of rich chocolate notes throughout. More impressive; it does all of this with less than two years of aging and little to no typical youthful flavor notes present. Not too many whiskeys are able to manage this, but Balcones Texas Rye knocks it out of the park in this area.
A Good Match For: Fans of unique tasting whiskeys with a chocolate flavor note
Not a Good Match For: Fans of traditional tasting ryes
A bright and fruity rye that forgoes typically rye whiskey flavor notes for a unique set of their own.
Hudson Whiskey has been operating since 2003 and was the first New York distillery since Prohibition. Yet, the company has seemingly struggled to stand out during its time. Finally, a recent rebrand of the company’s products has done well to turn the tide. Hudson Do the Rye Thing is a rye that forgoes much of the typical heat and spice of rye whiskeys, and instead puts forth a surprisingly delicate and fruit-leaning flavor profile. With Juicy Fruit gum, lemon, and honey on the nose, apricot, mint, and pear on the palate, and a spicy pop in the finish, this rye makes a statement. You won’t find many ryes from major Kentucky distilleries that will venture into this flavor territory, which will make Hudson Do the Rye Thing stand out on your whiskey shelf.
A Good Match For: Someone looking for a bright and fruity tasting rye
Not a Good Match For: Those looking for baking spice heavy ryes
A quintessential rye that gets everything right.
Pikesville Rye is about as traditional as they come. When people think of rye, they often think of fruit and spice as the whiskey’s main driving force. Pikesville Rye nails the balance between these opposing flavor notes. It does this by being a barely-legal rye (51% rye in the mashbill) and attaining an age that allows enough time for barrel influence to take hold. There’s a lot more sweetness in this rye thanks to its high percentage of corn, yet it still manages to pull through its rye-ness thanks to a manageable proof that creates the illusion that this is a spicier rye than it really is. This should allow both bourbon lovers and hardcore rye lovers alike to appreciate it. On paper, this may seem simplistic in nature, but in execution, this is one of the best everyday ryes you can currently find on the shelf. Don’t hesitate to give this premium rye a try.
A Good Match For: Traditionalists
Not a Good Match For: Those looking to mix things up
Stellum Rye may not reinvent the wheel, yet it still offers steadfast value on the backs of affluent flavor and pitch perfect intensity.
Stellum Rye can sometimes have some notable gusto, yet also knows when to pull back. Lacking blatant complexity and subtlety, it instead offers hard and fast flavors like you’d expect from a typical rye. Stellum Rye is one of the better ryes on the market not because it's overly flashy or complicated, but because it delivers such a solid tasting sip that works neat, with ice, or in cocktails. It finds balance in being potent and unassuming, yet manages to stand out because of it.
A Good Match For: Rye lovers looking for a balanced rye with some zip
Not a Good Match For: Anyone adverse to higher proof whiskey
A perfect roller coaster ride of sweet to spicy that makes MB Roland Rye one of the more intriguing ryes available.
Right up front, MB Roland Rye offers a nice balance of sweet and spice to please most whiskey lovers. It starts with a sweet aroma filled with brown sugar oatmeal, spiced cinnamon cake, and syrup covered raisins. This carries over into the palate while adding peppercorn, rye spice, and molasses. The finish stays on message, adding spicy cinnamon and syrupy oak. While not revolutionary in its flavor profile, its magic comes from how it all comes together. Don’t sleep on this unassuming rye, it has a lot to offer.
A Good Match For: Those who like bakery inspired flavors in their rye
Not a Good Match For: Those seeking a fruit-forward sip
A bold Canadian rye that brings the heat.
Here’s a lesson in sometimes less is more. While batches vary, a common thread of Alberta Premium Cask Strength Rye is its boldness over complexity. Rye whiskey often has the reputation of being hot and bold, and many modern distilleries take great pains to temper their ryes for modern drinkers’ palates. There are exceptions, most noticeably Buffalo Trace’s Thomas H. Handy, but that whiskey is out of reach for many. A fine runner up and with wide availability is Alberta Premium Cask Strength Rye. A rye offering cinnamon and spice isn’t exactly news, but how it delivers these flavors makes the difference. Alberta isn’t for the fainthearted, as it is the boldest rye on this list. If sweet cinnamon, bold rye spice, and touches of bubble gum and orange sounds up your alley, this Cadianian-made rye is for you.
A Good Match For: Those seeking an equivalent to a Thomas H. Handy bottle
Not a Good Match For: A balanced rye