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The Return of the Great Rye Adventures.
The legend speaks of American colonists of Scottish and Irish descent in the 1600s in search of magical grains that will help them recreate the sacred ancient Spirit they so sorely missed in the Land of Plenty. Alas, the land offered little barley, but plenty of local grain: rye. Thus, Rye Whiskey was born.
As it is always with precious artifacts, Rye became entangled in several historical disputes. When the British blockade of the Caribbean wiped the crowd's favorite Rum off the shelves for a while, Rye helped spark a revolution, a Whiskey Rebellion—a Ryevolution, if you will. What had happened is the government tried to tax the distillers. They said “Taxes. Why’d it have to be taxes?” and put their feet down firmly, of course. The Ryeders came out victorious and Rye swept the nation, roaring to its peak during the Jazz Age in the 1920s.
It wasn't until the late ‘90s that the legendary Rye started to claw its way back out of history and into the collective mind of ancient treasures seekers. The two big archeological digs came about with the kickstarted craft micro-distillery movement and the rejuvenated bar culture that recycled old cocktail recipes from the historical library. Today, we can safely say that Rye is here to stay, having successfully captured the imagination and taste buds of Spirits hunters around the world.
Inside this Tasting Box, you’ll find Ryes beyond your wildest aspirations:
Sagamore Spirit Cask Strength Straight Rye Whiskey, an extra spicy, Rye-lover’s choice through and through from Maryland.
Locke + Co Aspen Aged Rye Whiskey, a bright, fresh Rye Whiskey made lofty and bold by the addition of aspen wood from Colorado.
Catoctin Creek Roundstone Rye Whisky, an organic 100% Rye aged in new Minnesota white oak casks from Virginia
It’s a tasty passing through Rye’s history and future. A transmitter, a radio for speaking to the God of Rye.
And it is within your reach!
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) Before Prohibition Rye Whiskey distilleries dotted the landscape of the mid-Atlantic, spreading from New York to Virginia, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Even George Washington distilled Rye Whiskey on the Mount Vernon estate.
3) "Monongahela Rye" or Pennsylvania Rye is one of the biggest categories of Rye Whiskey. 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. Monongahela Rye usually combined malted and unmalted Rye. Pennsylvania's history with Rye Whiskey seems to be like Campbeltown's history with a Single Malt - both were once big players in the industry, but today little remains from their glorious pasts.
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) Even though Canadian Whisky uses only a small portion of Rye in its blend, it is called Canadian Rye Whisky. This is mostly because 200 years ago, Rye was the prominent ingredient in their blends, even when corn replaced it the name just kind of stuck.
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) Al Capone had a thing for Rye Whiskey, his favorite was Templeton Rye from Iowa.
An un-aged American Whisky is often called “white dog.”