Liquor Laboratory

ll logo white
ll logo white

10 Best Rye Whiskey Under $100 in 2023 (Expert Picks)

Best Rye Whiskey Under $100

Last Updated on March 26, 2024 by Lydia Martin

Similar to bourbon, rye whiskey is making a resurgence. Compared to bourbon, which is heavily influenced by corn, rye offers a robust pepper and spice note. 

Ryes are versatile and can be enjoyed neat or in a variety of whiskey cocktail recipes, such as Manhattan or Sazerac.

The good news is that there are plenty of great rye whiskeys you can find just as good for less.

If you want a good spirit without paying a high price tag, here’s the best rye whiskey under $100 you need to check out. 

Top 10 Rye Whiskey Under $100 (Most-Voted) 

10. Willett Family Estate Bottled Rye 4 Year

Average Price: approx. $74/750ml (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 55% ABV 

Why We Like It:  This is a great rye with a big and robust flavor. The nose is filled with cherries, cinnamon, hints of oak, and a beautiful blend of dark cherry and spice.

We like the long and flavorful finish with spices and cherries. Throughout the experience, there’s the touch of rye, and it’s smooth overall– well-balanced.

9. WhistlePig Small Batch Rye Whiskey: Aged 10 Years

WhistlePig Small Batch Rye 10 years Bottle and a glass on top of wooden barrel

Average Price: approx. $88/750ml (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 50% ABV 

Why We Like It: The premium 100% rye whiskey from WhistlePig is the most expensive on this list, but it’s worth the price, considering this is a 10-year-old rye whiskey. 

As we sip this spirit, the creamy texture is filled with spices such as nutmeg, vanilla, and cinnamon that coat the tongue.

It’s savory, the rye spice is easily noticeable, and the finish is all rye. 

8. Balcones Rye

Balcones Rye Bottle on a wooden table

Average Price: approx. $40/750ml (MSRP)

Alcohol Content: 50% ABV 

Why We Like It: The Texas rye expression from Balcones is an incredibly easy-sipper and a perfect example of “tasty.” 

Its spicy and chocolaty flavor profile surprisingly also delivers the rye spice, which completes the overall satisfaction.

This is a young rye that we don’t think will hold up well in the barrel if aged for more, but that makes it an easy drink. It’s made with 100% rye– so definitely a must-try. 

7. Pikesville Rye

Pikesville Straight Rye Whiskey Bottle

Average Price: approx. $55/750ml (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 55% ABV 

Why We Like It: One of the best choices for rye whiskeys is Pikesville Rye.

The 6-year-old expression is made from 51% rye, 38% corn, and 10% malted barley and was originally Maryland’s Rye.

Produced in Louisville, Kentucky, Pikesville Rye 6-year-old has a strong root beer flavor with hints of molasses, cherry, and licorice.

This is quite a good sip that rye lovers will surely enjoy.

6. Wild Turkey Rare Breed Barrel Proof Rye

Rare Breed Rye Whiskey Bottle

Average Price: approx. $68/750ml (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 56.1% ABV 

Why We Like It: This Wild Turkey Rare Breed Rye is uniquely strong– barrel proof, non-chilled filtered, and aged in various barrels (4 to 8 years old).

It’s an excellent choice under $100 that any drinker shouldn’t miss.  

With 112.2 proof, this Rare Breed Rye delivers a bit of burn and intensity. So, this isn’t for beginners. 

Once you can get past its initial singe, you’ll surely enjoy the notes of lemon, dry spices, and caramel. With this character and profile, any sip or mix is a level-up. 

5. Lot 40 Canadian Rye Whisky

Man Drinking Lot 40 Canadian Rye Whisky

Average Price: approx. $40/750ml (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 43% ABV 

Why We Like It: Want a full-bodied blended spirit? Then Lot 40 Canadian Rye is what you’re looking for.

It hits all the right notes, which feels good on the mouth as it delivers plenty of oak and caramel notes. 

Also, the hints of butterscotch, clove, and spicy cinnamon round up the drinking experience.

Its smooth and lingering finish is satisfying, making it a solid rye whisky.   

4. Bulleit 12 Year

Bulleit Rye 12 years Bottle and a Glass

Average Price: approx. $49.99/750ml (MSRP)

Alcohol Content: 46% ABV

Why We Like It: Bulleit 12-Year is special as it’s made of 95% rye. So, if you’re a serious rye fanatic, this is a must-have. 

While Bulleit is well-known in the industry for its high-rye expressions, the release of this 12-year-old rye is a more improved version. 

Bulleit 12-Year-Old is a beautiful whiskey to sip slowly and responsibly.

— Ed Bello, Bulleit Brand Director

Along the deep, bold rye spice comes smoothness, spiciness, and sweetness.

Yes, it lacks proof, but the excellent flavor profile makes up for building the overall experience.     

3. Alberta Premium Cask Strength Rye

Alberta Premium Cask Strength Rye Whiskey  Bottle on a Wooden Table

Average Price: approx. $69.99/750ml (MSRP)

Alcohol Content: 66% ABV 

Why We Like It: In an effort to further develop its reputation as a leading Canadian Whisky brand, Alberta Premium launched a Cask Strength Rye expression [1]. 

So this spirit is a reflection of the company’s heritage and commitment to quality.

And the expression itself is a true testament to the brand’s ability to create exceptional spirits.

This underrated whisky feels like a surprise from the Canadian expressions. The well-rounded flavors, pleasant aroma, and smooth finish sum up a wonderful sipping experience. 

2. High West Double Rye

Bottle of High West Double Rye Blend of Straight Rye Whiskeys

Average Price: approx. $37.99/750ml (MSRP)

Alcohol Content: 46% ABV 

Why We Like It: It’s impressive how David Perkins, a creative distiller, pioneered the making of double rye whiskeys. 

The idea of blending rye from 2- to 7-year-olds, including MGP’s famous 95/5 rye and its flagship 80% rye and 20% barley, creates a sweet and spicy profile. 

So this makes High West Double Rye grassy and spring, with a rich yet subtle finish.  

Read: Our Favorite High West Whiskeys

1. Michter US 1 Rye

Bottle of Michter US 1 Rye and a glass

Average Price: approx. $39.99/750ml (MSRP)

Alcohol Content: 42.4% ABV 

Why We Like It: Our most-voted rye whiskey is this Michter’s US1 Rye made using a select blend of American rye grain– sheared to extract the flavor from the grain. 

Each bottle comes from a single barrel [2], a unique attribute of this spirit, providing the best possible experience to drinkers. 

We totally love the variety of spices and flavors in this drink, including oak and citrus.

The rye spice, butterscotch, and peppery notes dominate the overall experience. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the best rye whiskey for beginners?

For beginners exploring rye whiskey, a good entry-level option is often a well-balanced and approachable rye with a smooth taste profile.

Some popular choices among beginners include brands like Bulleit Rye, Rittenhouse Rye, and Sazerac Rye.

These rye whiskeys typically offer a combination of spicy rye flavors along with sweetness and complexity, making them enjoyable for both novice and seasoned whiskey drinkers.

Which is better, rye whiskey or bourbon?

The preference between rye whiskey and bourbon ultimately comes down to personal taste. Rye whiskey is known for its spicier and drier flavor profile, with prominent notes of pepper, cinnamon, and herbs derived from the rye grain.

On the other hand, bourbon tends to be sweeter and richer, with flavors of caramel, vanilla, and oak imparted by the corn-based mash bill.

Neither rye whiskey nor bourbon is inherently “better” than the other; it depends on individual preferences and the desired flavor experience.

Some may prefer the bold and spicy character of rye whiskey, while others may gravitate towards the smooth sweetness of bourbon. Exploring both types of whiskey can provide a deeper appreciation for the diverse flavors and nuances within the world of whiskey.

Why is rye whiskey so expensive?

Several factors contribute to the pricing of rye whiskey, including production costs, aging processes, and market demand. Rye whiskey production often involves higher costs compared to other spirits due to the specific ingredients and production methods required.

Rye grains can be more expensive than other grains used in whiskey production, such as corn or barley.

Additionally, the aging process in charred oak barrels contributes to the complexity and quality of rye whiskey but also adds to production expenses, as aging requires storage space and time.

Market demand and consumer trends also play a significant role in pricing. As rye whiskey has experienced a resurgence in popularity in recent years, driven by a growing interest in craft spirits and classic cocktail culture, the increased demand for quality rye whiskey has led to higher prices.

Limited production runs, small-batch releases, and premium branding can further contribute to the perceived value and price point of rye whiskey in the market.

Overall, the combination of production costs, aging requirements, and consumer demand influences the pricing of rye whiskey, resulting in a range of options available to consumers at various price points.

What is 100 rye whiskey?

100% rye whiskey refers to a type of whiskey made entirely from rye grains. Unlike many other types of whiskey, which may use a combination of grains such as corn, barley, and wheat, 100% rye whiskey exclusively utilizes rye as the primary grain in its mash bill.

This results in a whiskey with a distinctively spicy and robust flavor profile, characterized by notes of pepper, cinnamon, and herbs. 100% rye whiskey is often prized for its bold flavor and complexity, making it a favorite among enthusiasts of rye whiskey and craft spirits alike.

What is the proper way to drink rye whiskey?

The proper way to drink rye whiskey ultimately depends on personal preference, but there are some common practices and recommendations to enhance the tasting experience.

Many aficionados enjoy rye whiskey neat, meaning served in a glass without any additional mixers or ice. This allows the full range of flavors and aromas to be appreciated without dilution.

Alternatively, rye whiskey can be enjoyed on the rocks, with a few ice cubes to slightly chill and dilute the spirit.

Some drinkers also prefer to enjoy rye whiskey in classic cocktails such as the Manhattan or Old Fashioned, where its spicy character can shine alongside complementary ingredients like vermouth or bitters.

Experimenting with different serving methods and flavor combinations can help individuals discover their preferred way to enjoy rye whiskey.

Is Jack Daniel’s rye whiskey?

No, Jack Daniel’s is not a rye whiskey. Jack Daniel’s is a Tennessee whiskey, which is a type of whiskey closely related to bourbon. Tennessee whiskey undergoes a similar production process to bourbon, including being made primarily from a mash bill of corn, but it also undergoes an additional step known as the Lincoln County Process.

This process involves filtering the whiskey through charcoal before aging, which imparts a distinctive flavor and smoothness to the spirit.

While Jack Daniel’s does offer a variety of whiskey expressions, including some flavored variants, none of them are classified as rye whiskey.

Instead, Jack Daniel’s focuses on producing Tennessee whiskey with its signature mellow flavor profile, characterized by notes of caramel, vanilla, and oak.

How healthy is rye whiskey?

Rye whiskey, like other alcoholic beverages, should be consumed in moderation. While moderate alcohol consumption has been associated with certain health benefits, excessive drinking can have negative effects on health.

Rye whiskey itself does not provide significant nutritional benefits, as it is primarily an alcoholic beverage.

However, moderate consumption of rye whiskey, like other spirits, may be enjoyed as part of a balanced lifestyle for social or relaxation purposes.

It’s important to remember that excessive alcohol consumption can lead to various health risks, including addiction, liver damage, and increased risk of certain diseases. As such, individuals should always drink responsibly and in moderation.

Can you drink rye whiskey straight?

Yes, rye whiskey can be enjoyed straight, meaning served in a glass without any additional mixers or dilution. Drinking rye whiskey straight allows the full range of flavors and aromas to be appreciated without interference.

Many enthusiasts of rye whiskey prefer to drink it neat to fully experience its spicy and robust character.

Alternatively, rye whiskey can also be enjoyed on the rocks, with a few ice cubes to slightly chill and dilute the spirit. Some drinkers may also choose to add a splash of water to rye whiskey to help unlock its flavors and aromas.

Ultimately, the decision to drink rye whiskey straight or with mixers depends on personal preference and desired drinking experience.

Why is rye whiskey popular?

Rye whiskey has experienced a resurgence in popularity in recent years due to several factors. One reason for its popularity is its distinct flavor profile, characterized by spicy and robust notes derived from the rye grain.

This unique flavor profile appeals to whiskey enthusiasts seeking something different from the sweeter and smoother taste of bourbon.

Additionally, the revival of classic cocktails such as the Manhattan and Old Fashioned, which traditionally feature rye whiskey as a primary ingredient, has contributed to increased interest in rye whiskey among cocktail enthusiasts and bartenders.

Furthermore, the craft spirits movement has led to a greater appreciation for small-batch and artisanal rye whiskies, as consumers seek out high-quality and unique spirits.

Overall, the combination of its distinctive flavor, historical significance, and versatility in cocktails has made rye whiskey increasingly popular among whiskey drinkers and cocktail aficionados alike.

Who makes the best rye whiskey?

Determining the “best” rye whiskey is subjective and can vary depending on individual taste preferences. However, several distilleries are renowned for producing high-quality rye whiskies that are widely acclaimed by enthusiasts and critics alike. Some of the distilleries known for their exceptional rye whiskies include:

WhistlePig: Known for its innovative approach to rye whiskey production and a range of premium expressions.

Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve: Highly sought-after and revered for its limited releases of aged rye whiskies.

High West Distillery: Recognized for its diverse portfolio of rye whiskies, including blends and single barrel releases.

Willett Distillery: Revered for its traditional approach to crafting rye whiskey and producing limited-edition bottlings.

Ultimately, the best rye whiskey is subjective and depends on individual taste preferences, budget, and availability.

What is a true rye whiskey?

A true rye whiskey is a whiskey that is made primarily from rye grain and adheres to specific production standards. In the United States, rye whiskey must meet certain legal requirements to be classified as such.

According to the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), to be labeled as rye whiskey, the spirit must:

Be made from a mash bill that consists of at least 51% rye grain.

Be distilled to no more than 160 proof (80% alcohol by volume).

Be aged in new charred oak barrels.

Be bottled at a minimum of 80 proof (40% alcohol by volume).

Rye whiskey typically exhibits a spicy and robust flavor profile, with notes of pepper, cinnamon, and herbs derived from the rye grain.

What is the most expensive bottle of rye?

The most expensive bottle of rye whiskey can vary depending on factors such as rarity, age, and exclusivity. Limited-edition releases, single barrel expressions, and whiskies with unique aging processes often command high prices in the market.

Some of the most expensive bottles of rye whiskey have been sold at auction or through specialty retailers for tens of thousands of dollars.

However, specific examples of the most expensive bottle of rye whiskey may change over time as new releases and auctions occur.

Collectors and enthusiasts interested in acquiring rare and valuable bottles of rye whiskey may need to research current market trends and consult with reputable sources to find the latest information on high-end rye whiskies.

Final Verdict: Best Rye Whiskey Under $100

At under $100, you can find rye whiskeys that can deliver quality, experience, and satisfaction to drinkers without breaking the bank. 

From the Willet Rye to the Lot 40 Canadian Rye to our favorite Michter’s US1 Rye, all these ryes are well worth checking out, perfect for sipping neat, straight, over ice, or in a cocktail. 

References:

  1. Alberta Distillers Announces Return of 100% Rye Canadian Whisky, Alberta® Premium Cask Strength, from the Award-Winning* Series
  2. What is the difference between single malt and single barrel whisky?
Lumint ad Side Bar
Flex Ad Side Bar