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“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”
We are shaped by the choices we make. With this Tasting Box, you can choose to take the road of diverse flavors exploration and try a grain less favored. After taking the back seat in distilling, rye’s popularity has recently again taken the wheel and is on a fast route to drive the world wild. These 5 Rye Whiskeys from different parts of the globe will take you down a path of a well-traveled palate—and once you go down that path, there’s no tasting back.
For the uninitiated, and corn-spoiled taste buds, Rye Whiskey’s unique balance of spicy, sweet, and dry might feel like a rough ride at first but give this OG of distilling grains a fair chance, and you’ll discover its hidden charms. The Spirits in this Box utilize rye for its different qualities and each time it proves it can go the extra mile.
Let’s hit that grainy road, shall we Jack?
First stop, Stork Club Straight Rye Whiskey. From the home to the historic Spreewald Distillery in Germany, this 100% Rye drives its pure grain flavor from the use of local German rye and malted rye. Aged in a combination of American oak, Napoleon oak, ex-White Wine, and ex-Sherry casks, the result is a surprisingly great Rye Whiskey in the old American style, but with decidedly European aging.
Next stop, Zuidam Millstone 100 Rye Whisky. Rest your eyes on the World famous windmills, an important Dutch heritage, that the Zuidam family now utilizes for the production of their 100-proof, 100 months old, 100% Rye Grain, 100% Small Batch, and 100% handmade Rye Whisky with a decidedly more chocolatey feel to it than it’s American counterpart.
Crossing the Atlantic, we head to the city of Evanston, Illinois, USA. Taste the Temperance-mocking FEW Rye Whiskey, a meld of 70% rye, 20% corn, and 10% malted barley aged in air-dried oak barrels for an exceptionally good Whiskey that is young and fiercely spicy, yet also really smooth around the corners.
With Ron Colón Salvadoreño 100 Rye Whiskey, we’ll visit three locations at once! This American-Belgian supplier of delicious Rums from El Salvador presents us with an MDP-inspired Whiskey distillate that was touched with a high-malt rye mash. The resulting international love child boasts the adored robust Rye character of mint, spice, and floral botanical, along with sweetness and finishing flavors of chocolate and apple, and a fuller mouthfeel.
Finally, we reach Stauning Rye Danish Whisky. Not “just another” Rye Whisky, it combines a mash bill of malted rye with a bit of malted barley and zero corn with double distillation in copper pots and aging in new (NOT refill!) American oak casks for a surprisingly fruit-forward pour with strong notes of freshly baked rye bread with melted butter.
1) Rye - think of it as Bourbon's edgier cousin. It’s known for imparting, what many call a spicy or fruity flavor, onto the Whiskey. Rye (distilled from at least 51% Rye), is not so sweet and tends to have a spicier body. That’s why the character of a cocktail made from Rye, instead of Bourbon, is drier.
2) Zuidam uses the traditional Dutch method of distilling, including using windmills to grind the grains they use in their Spirits.
3) "Monongahela Rye" or Pennsylvania Rye is one of the biggest categories of Rye Whiskey. Combining malted and unmalted rye, it contains a much higher percentage of rye (more than 70%) than today's Kentucky Rye Whiskeys, which tend to have close to the minimum 51% rye.
4) Rye Whiskey was what most distilleries made before Prohibition. Then, after repeal in 1933, Bourbon, made from corn, became more popular. Corn was easier to grow, and the taste was sweeter. Rye Whiskey production is only a drop in the bucket compared to the rivers of Bourbon produced now, although Rye Whiskey sales have tripled in the past five years.
5) A decade ago there were only 6 brands of Rye Whiskey hailing from Kentucky, nowadays there are more than 50!
6) Danish malted rye didn’t exist before Stauning started making it. When they wanted to open a distillery, the bank told them to open a bakery instead.
7) There are several Cocktails made with Rye, the Old Fashioned being one of the most well-known. Here’s a recipe: In an old fashioned glass add a sugar cube, 3-5 drops of bitters, and a dash of plain water. Muddle until dissolved (you can add an orange wheel and muddle that as well). Add a gigantic ice cube or ball, top with 2 shots of Rye, and stir. Garnish with an orange slice and a cocktail cherry. Enjoy!
8) Rye Whiskey and cheese pairing? Hard cheeses work well, especially the ones with crunchy salt crystals that form with a bit of age. Try it with Parmigiano-Reggiano, Gouda, Gruyère, or even a creamy brie or Camembert (the bite from the Whiskey will counter the richness of the cheese).
9) At the end of the 18th century and at the beginning of the 19th century, George Washington was one of the biggest Rye producers in America, distilling as much as 11,000 gallons per year.