Rye whiskey, rye whiskey, rye whiskey I cry
Rye whiskey, once the red-headed step child of the whiskey world has had a rebirth as of late and is enjoying a new found followership among whiskey fans. There used to be one or maybe if you were lucky two selections of rye whiskey at our local liquor stores. You could choose Jim Beam Rye or if you were fortunate the alternative selection was Old Overholt. Not that I like either one better than the other, but I do like choice and two selections are better than one. Every once in a while I would be in the mood for something different and I would usually get a bottle of Jim Beam Rye distinguishable (at least back then) by its yellow label which diminished any confusion between it and its big brother Jim Beam Bourbon. To me the rye is a good sipper and leaves a pleasant aftertaste that lingers a while. Its popularity has never been that of the other whiskeys (at least not in the 20th or 21st centuries) but it is rising up the whiskey world. Today you can find other brands or rye like Hudson Manhattan, Michters, Templeton Rye, Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye, and Wild Turkey Rye along with several other good ones too numerous to mention.
I had a scotch tasting party a while ago and as something fun to do I had a “mystery whiskey” which was Jim Beam Rye. Everyone tried the secret whiskey and guesses ran from scotch to bourbon to Canadian with one whiskey fan finally guessing Rye and claiming the prize of a nice bar towel. Now most of these folks were not hard core whiskey drinkers which probably explains why only one of them actually guessed correctly.
Rye was immortalized in the old cowboy movies with John Wayne, Hop-a-long Cassidy, Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, and Gabby Hayes. As the good or bad guys came into the saloon they often said simply “whiskey!” or “Gimme a shot of Red-eye!” or “Bar keep, shot of Rye!” all of these usually followed by “and leave the bottle!” Most of us have heard the old song about rye.
“Rye whiskey, rye whiskey, rye whiskey I cry
If I don’t get rye whiskey I surely will die
If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck
I’d swim to the bottom and never come up.”
The question is simply this; is rye whiskey worth a try? The answer is a resounding yes!
While rye is my change of pace whiskey and I probably only buy a bottle about every other year, many people are trying it today and judging from the increasing of volume of sales and the growing shelf space in liquor stores it is finally getting a foot in the door of the whiskey drinking world. Rye tastes just a little different and it might take a time or two to really be able to appreciate its unique taste (and to me its unique and quite enjoyable aftertaste). So give it a try and if you don’t want to buy a whole bottle just order it up next time you are at your favorite bar. If nothing else get a shot and pass it around the table to let your friends try it or see if you can find a miniature 50ml bottle. Who knows maybe one or more of you will like it and will become of the new rye drinkers. Be sure to let us know what you think and if rye is really for you or just something you would rather not do. Tell us what your favorite brand is as I would be particularly interested in knowing that to give me leads on what to try next!
The Whisky Warrior