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10 Best Rye Whiskey Brands for Sazerac Cocktails (2024)

Best Rye for Sazerac

Last Updated on March 5, 2024 by Lydia Martin

Hailing from New Orleans, Sazerac is considered one of the earliest recorded cocktails.

This timeless cocktail has multiple recipe variations, but rye whiskey greatly impacts its taste.

Although the Sazerac cocktail was originally partnered with cognac, it would stand out best with a bolder, flavorful profile and—a good quality rye whiskey.

But what’s the best rye for Sazerac? Keep reading.

Top 10 Rye Whiskeys for a Sazerac (Must-Have) 

10. Redemption Rye

hand holding bottle of Redemption Rye

Average Price: Around $29 for 750ml

Alcohol Content: 46%

Why We Like It:

With its 95% rye content, Redemption Rye whiskey has a potent character with big, spicy, complex flavors.

It’s inspired by pre-Prohibition recipes, having a distinctive rye-forward profile.

Redemption Rye has a great rye spice with a slight mint finish, ideal for creating bolder cocktails like Sazerac.

9. WhistlePig Rye Whiskey

man holding WhistlePig Rye Whiskey bottle

Average Price: Around $48 for 750ml

Alcohol Content: 48.28%

Why We Like It:

It’s one of the few brands that use 100% rye on its mash bill content. Whistlepig PiggyBack Rye has full spice and bold flavors.

This full rye whiskey is beautifully aged to a minimum of six years and proofed at 96.56, making it a strong bitter-sweet whiskey.

It’s a good value for a rye-forward whiskey with a higher ABV.

8. Old Forester Rye

close up shot of Old Forester Rye bottle

Average Price: Around $28 for 750ml

Alcohol Content: 50%

Why We Like It:

At 100-proof, Old Forester Rye has a rich rye spice with brown sugar aromas and a taste of black pepper with cinnamon.

It has a mash bill of 65% rye, 20% malted barley, and 15% corn.

Old Forester Rye’s generous percentage of malted barley brings additional floral aromas that balance the sharp edges of rye.

7. US 1 Kentucky Straight Rye

Michter's Straight Rye Whiskey Bottle

Average Price: Around $48 for 750ml

Alcohol Content: 42.4%

Why We Like It:

Every bottle of Mitcher’s US 1 Kentucky Straight Rye comes from a single barrel. Its rye whiskey is chill filtered before bottling to create a clear, extraordinary rye whiskey.

This rye whiskey has an enticing creamy texture on the palate but has a potent rye and spice flavor.

6. Bulleit Rye

close up image of Bulleit Rye Bottle

Average Price: Around $28 for 750ml

Alcohol Content: 45%

Why We Like It:

Bulleit Rye is straight rye with a traditional bold rye flavor, with hints of honey and vanilla. Its 90-proof bottle is made with 95% rye on its mash bill with 5% malted barley.

“Rye remains the fastest growing North American Whiskey segment…”

– Ed Bello, Bulleit Global Brand Director

Bulleit Rye has a character of unparalleled spice at a fair price. This high-rye whiskey is straightforward, has a minty palate, and creates a dry finish perfect for potent cocktails.

5. Willett Family Estate 2 YR

Willett 2 Year Rye Bottle and glass

Average Price: Around $59 for 750ml

Alcohol Content: 54.2%

Why We Like It:

This two-year-old cask-strength small-batch rye whiskey has a high value for its average price point on the market.

It has a bright-tasting profile with a good balance of sweet and spice notes. 

Each bottle has a hand-marked age statement and barrel number.

But unfortunately, each batch of this whiskey rarely exceeds hundreds of bottles, making its bottles harder to find.

4. Old Overholt Rye

man pouring Old Overholt Rye bottle on a glass

Average Price: Around $21 for 750ml

Alcohol Content: 40%

Why We Like It:

This famous rye whiskey is considered the oldest of the old. It is a relic rye whiskey that is non-chill filtered, resulting in a more robust and distinctive flavor.

Old Overholt is known for its versatility in cocktails, especially in making Manhattan and Sazerac.

3. George Dickel Rye Whisky

hand holding George Dickel Rye Whisky

Average Price: Around $22 for 750ml

Alcohol Content: 45%

Why We Like It:

George Dickel Rye is another high-rye whiskey having 95% rye on its mashbill.

This whiskey has a unique process of chilled charcoal-mellowed finish which balances the depth of the rye.

Its one-of-a-kind process makes it remarkably smooth, ideal for sipping or mixing cocktails.

2. Sazerac Rye 

Man holding bottle of Sazerac Straight Rye

Average Price: Around $29 for 750ml

Alcohol Content: 45%

Why We Like It:

Sazerac Rye is the whiskey that started it all. With its spiciness and subtly sweet and citrus notes, Sazerac Rye whiskey makes a perfect Sazerac cocktail.

Its 90-proof bottles offer a mellow rye spice that is delicious and approachable yet has a complex flavor that will greatly appeal to your palate.

1. Rittenhouse Rye

Rittenhouse Straight Rye Bottled In Bond Whiskey Bottle and a Glass on top of a Wooden Table

Average Price: Around $26 for 750ml

Alcohol Content: 50%

Why We Like It:

Rittenhouse Rye is a straight and bottle in bond rye whiskey with a distinct, robust profile.

It’s a solid budget rye for having a high proof of 100 aged four years in oak barrels. 

Although this whiskey has a strong spice aroma, its tasting notes make a bold cocktail like Old-Fashioned, Manhattan, or Sazerac.

Note: Average prices are from Drizly and Total Wine. It may vary depending on your liquor store.

FAQs Related to Best rye for Sazerac

What is the best rye for a Sazerac cocktail?

The best rye for a Sazerac cocktail is often a matter of personal preference, but popular choices include Sazerac Rye, Rittenhouse Rye, and Bulleit Rye.

What makes a rye suitable for a Sazerac cocktail?

A rye suitable for a Sazerac cocktail should have a bold and spicy flavor profile that can stand up to the other ingredients, particularly the absinthe rinse and Peychaud’s bitters.

Can I use bourbon instead of rye in a Sazerac cocktail?

While traditional Sazerac recipes call for rye whiskey, you can experiment with bourbon if you prefer a slightly sweeter flavor profile, although purists may prefer rye.

Should I choose a high-proof rye for a Sazerac cocktail?

Using a high-proof rye can add intensity and depth to a Sazerac cocktail, but it’s essential to balance it with the other ingredients to avoid overpowering the drink.

Are there any budget-friendly rye options for making a Sazerac cocktail?

Yes, there are budget-friendly rye options that still offer quality and flavor suitable for a Sazerac cocktail, such as Old Overholt, Wild Turkey Rye, and Jim Beam Rye.

Can I customize the flavor of a Sazerac cocktail with different rye whiskies?

Absolutely! Experimenting with different rye whiskies can subtly alter the flavor profile of a Sazerac cocktail, allowing you to tailor it to your taste preferences.

Should I choose a rye with a high rye content for a Sazerac cocktail?

Ryes with a higher rye content tend to have a spicier flavor profile, which can complement the other ingredients in a Sazerac cocktail nicely, but it’s not a strict requirement.

Can I substitute Canadian whisky for rye in a Sazerac cocktail?

While Canadian whisky shares some similarities with rye, it has a different flavor profile, so it may not provide the same experience in a Sazerac cocktail. It’s best to stick with rye for authenticity.

In Summary

A good Sazerac cocktail must have quality rye whiskey because an excellent quality rye whiskey can make Sazerac, the close cousin of Old-Fashioned, shine even better.

You can start making your Sazerac cocktail with budget-friendly rye whiskeys like Old Overholt and George Dickel or choose a full 100% rye whiskey like WhistlePig.

But if you’re into a stronger cocktail with a potent alcohol taste and high ABV, try making one with Old Forester or Rittenhouse. 


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