What Is Rye Whiskey?

Learn about rye whiskey from the experts at NYC's Rye House in this Howcast video.

Rye whiskey is whiskey made from rye. Americans do it as well as pretty much anybody, but the Canadians are well known for it to. Rye is a very hardy crop that grows better in cold climates. While it’s difficult to distill because there are proteins in the mash that will make it stick together and turn what will be delicious liquor into oatmeal.

It’s a little harder to work with, but it’s a very delicious grain. It’s light, spicy. You have producers that will do very high proof, very oily and very aggressive. You have producers that will do lighter and softer rye whiskeys almost drinks more like a bourbon. So there is a wide variety in your styles of rye. You can even have your white whiskey say this is an un-aged whiskey directly from the still. It smells a little bit like gasoline, it smells a lot like gasoline, but corn will do that in your mash bill. Rye whiskeys are 51% rye in the mash bill at the least to be called straight rye whiskey.

They’ll add other grains barley, wheat, corn to make it softer or sweeter or a little more rounded, but it means it’s at least 51% rye. Those are some facts about rye whiskey.