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10 Best American Rye Whiskey Brands: Listed (2022 Updated)

Last Updated on November 25, 2022 by Lydia Martin

Rye whiskey, known for its bold and spicy characteristics, has become popular among those who prefer to drink their whiskey straight.

However, there are several types of rye whiskeys that you can choose from, making it challenging to find the best American rye whiskey. 

Don’t fret. We’ve rounded up the best rye whiskeys that liquor experts and bartenders recommend. 

Top 10 American Rye Whiskeys To Sip 

10. Old Overholt Straight Rye Whiskey

hand holding Old Overholt Straight Rye Whiskey

Average Price: around $19.99 /750ml (MSRP)

Alcohol Content: 40% ABV 

Why We Like It: Old Overholt straight rye whiskey is a favorite among budget-conscious drinkers and bartenders.

This brand boasts it was America’s most popular spirit following the end of Prohibition [1]. 

This rye whiskey starts with a sweet and creamy cereal flavor, then gets a touch of vanilla and white pepper with a bracing finish. 

While it’s often associated with Boilermaker, this rye spirit is versatile enough to be used in various ways, including a fine Manhattan or a peppery Old-Fashioned. 

9. Balcones Texas Rye 100 Proof 

man holding  Balcones Texas Rye 100 Proof Pot Still Whisky

Average Price: around $40 /750ml (MSRP)

Alcohol Content: 50% ABV 

Why We Like It: Balcones Texas rye 100-proof whiskey has a huge fanbase due to its rich and spicy flavors, with hints of tobacco.

A glass of this rye whiskey plus a few ice cubes allows an excellent sip. Originating in Texas, Balcones whiskey features a mash bill composed of 100% rye grains. 

Some notable ingredients include Elbon Rye from the north of Texas, which comes in different varieties like crystal, roasted rye, and chocolate. 

8. Sazerac Rye 

Bottle of Sazerac Rye on top of a Wooden table

Average Price: around $30 /750ml (MSRP)

Alcohol Content: 45% ABV 

Why We Like It: This rye expression is a great pick for those who love Sazeracs because of its vibrant and flavorful characteristics. 

It’s filled with orange and lemon zest notes, baking spices, and vanilla.

This spirit is a delightful addition to the classic New Orleans cocktail, made with Peychaud’s bitters and absinthe.

Expert Tip: When making a Sazerac, make sure to add the lemon zest. The rye adds a bit of citrus to the drink, which complements the candied notes in the whiskey.

7. WhistlePig PiggyBack Rye

WhistlePig PiggyBack 6 Year Old Rye Bottle with liquor shelves background

Average Price: around $49.99 /750ml (MSRP)

Alcohol Content: 48.28% ABV 

Why We Like It: WhistlePig PiggyBack Rye is an affordable whiskey expression from WhistlePig, known for its expensive rye whiskeys. 

This is a good value bottle filled with plenty of flavors with a higher ABV.

PiggyBack Rye has a minimum of six years of aging, resulting in a bit of heat that disappears soon after. Some of the prominent flavors are orange and grapefruit.

We suggest drinking PiggyBack with a large ice cube or sipping it neat, topped with a couple of drops of water.

6. Pikesville Straight Rye Whiskey

Pikesville Straight Rye 110 Proof Bottle on Top of a Wooden Barrel

Average Price: around $49.99 /750ml (MSRP)

Alcohol Content: 55% ABV 

Why We Like It: Heaven Hill’s Pikesville is a one-time Maryland rye whiskey that’s now aged for six years. This drink has a layered nose with an intense palate.

This expression is a powerful and nuanced rye whiskey with hints of spice, banana peel, and charred oak.

5. High West Double Rye Whiskey 

High West Double Rye Whiskey Bottle

Average Price: around $37.99 /750ml 

Alcohol Content: 46% ABV 

Why We Like It: This Double Rye from High West is a great option for those passionate about rye whiskey, as it is heavily infused with spice.

This expression blends two types of rye whiskeys aged at least two years. And as per the experts, it’s twice as spicy as the average rye.

This spirit is best mixed with classic cocktails, like the Old Fashioned or Amaro. It can also be enjoyed straight up with a splash of water to lessen the heat.

4. Nashville Barrel Company Small Batch Rye Whiskey

Nashville Barrel Company Small Batch Rye Whiskey Bottle and a Glass

Average Price: around $59.99 /750ml (MSRP)

Alcohol Content: 50% ABV 

Why We Like It: This new Tennessee brand is made from barrels sourced from Indiana but blended in Nashville.

We like the second batch of this rye whiskey, a pleasant sipping drink made with four and eight-year-old MGP whiskey. 

“Always carry a flagon of whiskey in case of snakebite and furthermore always carry a small snake.”

— W.C. Fields, American Comedian

But overall, almost any Nashville Barrel Company expressions are worth buying besides this Small Batch Rye, so we recommend trying these expressions.

3. Michter’s US-1 Kentucky Straight Rye

Bottle of Michter's US-1 Kentucky Straight Rye

Average Price: around $45 /750ml (MSRP)

Alcohol Content: 42.4% ABV 

Why We Like It: Michter’s US1 expressions are made with some of the finest single barrels and are still being refined by Master Distiller Dan McKee. 

If you like your drink a little spicy, Michter’s US-1 Kentucky straight rye can be your go-to option because of its peppery notes with hints of butterscotch, citrus, and oak.  

2. Redemption Rye

Close Up Shot of Redemption Rye Bottle

Average Price: around $31.99 /750ml (MSRP)

Alcohol Content: 46% ABV 

Why We Like It: While a standard rye whiskey in the US typically contains 51% rye grain, Redemption went further and created a signature bottle with 95% rye.

The combination of the grain’s rich and flavorful characteristics and the sweet vermouth’s creamy and fruity notes make this rye whiskey an ideal Manhattan mix. 

1. Basil Hayden’s Dark Rye Whiskey 

man holding bottle of Basil Hayden's Dark Rye Whiskey 

Average Price: around $56.99 /750ml (MSRP)

Alcohol Content: 40% ABV 

Why We Like It: This is a rich, creamy rye whiskey made with Canadian and Kentucky rye. It’s also infused with California port, adding a dark fruit flavor to the finish.

Although this isn’t your typical rye whiskey, it’s great for drinking straight or in a cocktail such as Manhattan or Boulevardier. 

It has the signature rye spice, though it’s more focused on holiday spices than black pepper.

This bottle should be considered by anyone who’s new to the genre or looking to branch out. 

FAQs 

What’s the best American rye whiskey to drink straight?

Basil Hayden’s Dark Rye whiskey is the best American rye whiskey for drinking straight.

It features holiday spices besides rye spice, making it a great drink for sipping neat or straight. 

What’s the best American rye whiskey for beginners?

The best American rye whiskey recommended for beginners is Basil Hayden’s Dark Rye whiskey due to its flavor profile.

But, Michter’s US-1 Kentucky straight rye and Old Overholt straight rye whiskey are also good options. 

What’s the best American rye whiskey for Old Fashioned?

The best American rye whiskey for Old-Fashioned is High West Double Rye whiskey.

Its bold flavor tastes well in cocktails, giving a hint of spice to the drink. 

In A Nutshell 

For those branching out or curious about rye whiskeys, you won’t go wrong with Basil Hayden’s Dark Rye expression. 

Its blend of Canadian and Kentucky whiskey– fortified with a percentage of port wine [2]— is well-balanced, creating an impressive and delicious spirit. 

But you have many options to try, and we recommend any spirit on this list. These expressions have something to offer– catering to different preferences and drinking styles.  

References: 

  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0014498312000393 
  2. https://www.britannica.com/topic/port-wine 

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