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10 Best Rye Whiskey for an Old Fashioned Cocktail (2024)

Best Rye Whiskeys for an Old Fashioned Cocktail

Last Updated on March 17, 2024 by Lydia Martin

If you have a soft spot for drinking Old Fashioned, you know that bourbon whiskey is the most common base liquor for the cocktail. But do you know that the peppery and spicy notes of rye whiskeys also work beautifully in an Old Fashioned?

Level up your cocktail recipe by using the best rye whiskey for Old Fashioned. Read on for our full reviews.

Top 10 Best Rye Whiskey For Old Fashioned 

10. Four Roses Single Barrel

Four Roses Single Barrel

Average Price: $49.99 (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 50% 

Why It’s Best For Old Fashioned:

Four Roses single barrel rye whiskey is an affordable and delectable option for classic cocktails.

The rye-forward flavor profile of Four Roses is powerful enough even after dilution, so it can be a really satisfying liquor base. 

Four Roses Single Barrel has a complex, smooth and delicate taste. It is a popular spirit for mixed drinks because its high-rye content and taste of plum, cherries, and black pepper mix well with sugary drinks.

9. Old Overholt Straight Rye Whiskey

Old Overholt Straight Rye Whiskey

Average Price: $19.99 (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 40%

Why It’s Best For Old Fashioned: 

Old Overholt straight rye whiskey is great entry-level whiskey for a classic cocktail. It has a balanced taste of peppery spice from typical rye that swirls around a smoother body.  

If you are budget-conscious but do not want to compromise the taste of your Old-Fashioned cocktail recipe, you can rely on Old Overhold straight rye whiskey.

It has a balanced sweetness and a touch of vanilla and finishes with a hint of white pepper spice. 

8. Lot 40 Canadian Rye Whisky

Lot 40 Canadian Rye

Average Price: $39.99 (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 43%

Why It’s Best For Old Fashioned:

Another go-to-option for your favorite cocktail is the Lot 40 Canadian rye whisky. The high-proof whisky contains powerful notes of rye, zesty and baking spice.

While this rye whiskey is tasty to drink straight or on the rocks, using it as a base for mixed drinks brings out more of its dried fruit notes.

Rye whiskeys must be made from a mash bill that contains 51% rye grain [1] and other grains like corn and malted barley.

The high rye content of Lot 40 Canadian whisky does not fade away when mixed with different flavors. 

7. WhistlePig Rye 10 Year

WhistlePig Rye 10 Year

Average Price: $86.99 (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 50%

Why It’s Best For Old Fashioned:

WhistlePig is a good value bottle with high ABV and great flavor that works well in cocktails. Made from 100% rye, WhistlePig is one of the small batch rye spirits with bold flavors. 

WhistlePig Rye 10 Year has rich flavors of vanilla, caramel, rye, and mint.

On the nose, it has notes of allspice, anise, orange peel, and a long warm finish. Its full-bodied flavor and holiday spice do not fade easily when diluted. 

6. High West Double Rye Whiskey

High West Double Rye Whiskey

Average Price: $37.99 (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 46%

Why It’s Best For Old Fashioned:

High West double rye is one of the spiciest spirits you can use as your cocktail base. It has a signature bite that is minty with some cinnamon notes and wildflower honey sweetness on the finish.  

High West’s double rye stands on its own may it be served neat, with a splash of water, on the rocks, or as a cocktail drink. 

Read: Basil Hayden Dark Rye Whiskey Guide

5. Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey

Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight Rye

Average Price: $39.99 (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 45.2%

Why It’s Best For Old Fashioned:

If you want your classic cocktail to be on a spicier edge, Woodford Reserve Rye is one of the best whiskeys you can try.

A bottle of Woodford will surely elevate your cocktail because the grain spices balance the taste of cherry and sugar.

On the other hand, the bitters complement the richness of tobacco.

4. Wild Turkey 101 Rye

Wild Turkey 101 Rye

Average Price: $38.99 (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 50.5%

Why It’s Best For Old Fashioned:

Wild Turkey 101 rye has an almost smoky flavor that pairs well with the sugar and bitters of the mixed drink. A lead bartender in Sweet Liberty uses the distilled spirit to elevate the taste of their mixed drinks. 

Unlike the Wild Turkey Master’s Keep, Wild Turkey 101 Rye by Eddie Russell has rich notes of vanilla, honey, and caramel with a long and lingering finish. 

3. Willett Family Estate Bottled Rye 4 Year

Willett Family Estate Bottled Rye 4 Year

Average Price: $70.80 (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 55% 

Why It’s Best For Old Fashioned:

Willett Family Estate Bottled Rye 4 Year is a single barrel offering whiskey with a heavy dose of pepper and citrus.

Bourbon is a bit sweeter than rye whiskey, so if you want a mixed drink with a kick of spiciness, Willet Family Estate can be a good option. 

2. Sazerac Rye Whiskey

Sazerac Rye Whiskey

Average Price: $33.99 (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 45%

Why It’s Best For Old Fashioned:

Sazerac whiskey is packed with orange, lemon zest, oak, baking spices, and hints of vanilla. The spirit harmonizes well with different mixed drink recipes and can handle little dilution with ice.

Sazerac Rye is a pride of Buffalo Trace distillery, and its mellow taste dances on the tongue. 

1. Knob Creek Straight Rye Whiskey

Knob Creek Straight Rye

Average Price: $37.39 (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 50%

Why It’s Best For Old Fashioned:

Knob Creek whiskey is a high-proof spirit that pairs the traditional rye spice and sweetness. It helps level up your classic mixed drinks by giving them spiciness, rich baking spices, and undertones of oak and vanilla.

FAQs 

Is rye whiskey better for Old Fashioned than drank neat?

It is better to drink rye whiskey neat, especially if you are a rye lover. However, some may find it too bold and strong, so it’s easier to consume it as a cocktail. 

What’s the most affordable rye whiskey for Old Fashioned?

Old Overholt is the most affordable rye whiskey for Old Fashioned. You can score a bottle for less than $25 on Drizly online, and its flavor is perfect for rye-based cocktails.

What characteristics should I look for in Rye Whiskey for an Old Fashioned?

Opt for a rye whiskey with bold and spicy flavors, as well as a smooth and balanced profile that can stand out amidst the other cocktail ingredients without overpowering them.

Should I use 100% Rye Whiskey for making Old Fashioneds?

While 100% rye whiskey can provide a robust and distinct flavor profile, many bartenders and enthusiasts prefer a balanced blend of rye and other grains for a more nuanced and approachable Old Fashioned.

Are there any specific age statements to consider when choosing Rye Whiskey for Old Fashioneds?

Age statements can indicate the maturity and complexity of the whiskey, but they’re not necessarily a determining factor for making a great Old Fashioned. Choose a rye whiskey that suits your taste preferences and budget.

What price range can I expect for Rye Whiskey suitable for Old Fashioneds?

Prices for rye whiskey vary depending on factors such as brand reputation, age, and production methods. Expect to find quality rye whiskies for Old Fashioneds across a range of price points, from mid-range to premium.

Can I substitute Bourbon for Rye Whiskey in an Old Fashioned?

While rye whiskey is the traditional choice for Old Fashioneds, bourbon can also be used to create a delicious variation of the cocktail. Experiment with both to discover your preferred flavor profile.

Final Thoughts 

You can try different rye whiskey for Old Fashioned, but Knob Creek is the best rye whiskey for the cocktail. 

The 100-proof whiskey is aged in charred American oak barrels for a robust flavor that pairs well with the sugar cubes and bitters. Each sip seemingly gives more depth to discover. 

References:

  1. https://www.seriouseats.com/guide-to-rye-whiskey-cocktail-101-basics-what-is-rye-how-is-it-made-brands
  2. https://www.mensjournal.com/food-drink/old-overholt-bonded-whiskey-is-the-perfect-rye-for-cocktails/
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