So, what constitutes the best rye whiskey? Simply, it must be primarily made from rye. While they’re both close cousins, rye tends to be a far spicier form of whiskey than usual. This isn’t to say that ordinary rye is an obnoxious, fiery ball of smoky fruit in your mouth, rather it’s better defined as a soft elegant ball of sweet, smooth fruit that slowly melts into a soft puddle.
The best rye whiskey may come as a blended whiskey or a single malt. Blended whiskies are those that have had some of their alcohol removed for the sake of the flavor and aging process, so they have a sweeter taste than a single malt. If you prefer a sweeter, fruitier version, try a single malt. rye can go with just about any spirit, especially when it’s good rye.
So, how do you choose the best rye whiskey? First, pick out the best bottle available. The type of bottle determines the quality of the whiskey-cask variety as well. If the bottle is an old one that is still in excellent shape, chances are you’ve got something truly special. The older bottles have generally higher prices, but for a whiskey lover that wants to enjoy some of the best rye whiskies out there, a bottle from an older vintage might just do the trick.
Distilleries make the best rye whiskey, though, not all of them. Many distilleries make cheaper rye, and since many of them don’t have the distilleries on the west coast, these are usually the best choice. You can usually find rye in almost every bar or restaurant around. Most of the rye comes from New York, and since most bartenders know what the best rye whiskey in America is, you can expect them to have rye available at any time.
Rye whiskey will also vary based on the oak barrel it’s stored in. Some rye whiskeys are made from white oak, and others are made from red oak. Each oak barrel creates a different flavor. If you’re looking for the most full-bodied rye whiskey, look for red-baked rye; if you’re looking for sweeter, smoother rye, consider a white oak barrel. It’s also important to note that a cedar-smelling oak barrel imparts a slightly sweetish or spicy rye whiskey, while a dry oak barrel imparts a dry, woodsy rye whiskey.
Finally, rye affects the taste of the drink, so experiment with different yeast strains, different oak chips, and different baking spices. Keep a sample of each type of mix in your glass, and let your pallet do the choosing. You may end up with the best rye on earth, or one that’s so far off the mark that you’ll never recognize it. It’s really a matter of your palate.