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The Best Rye Whiskey Brands, According to a Pro

Rye whiskey is the liquor you've been missing—so we've found the brands you'll love to drink neat or mix into Manhattans. Cheers!

Every editorial product is independently selected, though we may be compensated or receive an affiliate commission if you buy something through our links. Ratings and prices are accurate and items are in stock as of time of publication.

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Female bartender is adding whiskey to the mixing glass; Shutterstock ID 369783173; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): Taste of HomeKondor83/shutterstock

What Is Rye Whiskey?

It’s the oldest American whiskey and, no surprise, must be distilled from at least 51% rye. Unlike corn-based bourbon, this whiskey is spicy and has a bite, though tastes will differ from brand to brand. Check out our top picks for whiskey drinkers.

Psst! Here are more types of whiskey you really need to know.

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Journeyman Last Feather

Journeyman Last Feather Rye has a lot to brag about. It’s organic, award-winning and made with a combination of wheat and rye, creating a sweet, spicy balance with notes of fruit and pepper. Need more convincing? Last Feather won the San Francisco World Spirits Competition twice. Learn how to craft bar-quality whiskey cocktails at home.

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Michter’s US-1 Kentucky Straight Rye

Straight from America’s oldest distillery, this rye is aged in an extra-hot warehouse, a process which supercharges flavors like citrus and wood. All bottles also come from a single barrel to guarantee quality, and you’ll catch notes of butterscotch and citrus.

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Old Overholt

The wallet-friendly whiskey Old Overholt has been around since the 1800s, and for good reason. Now produced in Kentucky, it’s on the sweeter side, with mild citrus and vanilla overtones, which makes it smoother and easier to drink. Learn how to master classic cocktails.

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Van Winkle Family Reserve

Everything gets better with age, especially this 13-year-old rye. Maturity has lent it power in color and flavor, rich and smooth with notes of caramel and toffee, followed by spices. The next step? Finding the perfect garnish.

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George Dickel Rye

Rye can be sharp and spicy, but the affordable George Dickel Rye has a secret solution: charcoal filtering, which smooths the final product. Made primarily of rye with a hint of malted barley, it’s an excellent base for cocktails like Manhattans. Bonus: Learn the best whiskey, bourbon and scotch here.

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Copper Fox Rye

This Copper Fox Rye strikes a middle ground between price and taste, with the familiar peppery rye notes paired with a honeyed, buttered aromas that will appeal to bourbon drinkers. The applewood and cherrywood smoke used to finish it come through subtly, making this rye good straight or in cocktails.

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A strong standard in the rye market, this relatively simple whiskey makes a mean Old-Fashioned. It doesn’t lack the complex notes of more expensive brands, and is underscored by strong spicy notes, including maple and cinnamon.

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Charming name aside, WhistlePig is a highly-awarded distillery with a wide range of rye, from the sweet, slightly floral 3-year-old Farmstock Rye to the well-lauded 18-year bottle. The long maturation process has born complex notes balancing soft vanilla with expansive spices.

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Kim Bussing
Kim Bussing is a writer and editor living in Los Angeles. She has written for publications including Reader’s Digest, Modern Farmer, Clean Plates and Vice, among others, and she is working on her first novel. She is always on the hunt for the perfect gluten-free cinnamon roll.

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