Way back in the day, rye whiskey was the spirit of choice for American men. Though it all but disappeared after Prohibition. Bourbon became the brown liquor most likely to be found clinking in your rocks glass. What's the difference? A rye whiskey must contain a mashbill that is at least 51 percent rye (bourbon's mash is corn-based) and aged in charred new oak barrels. It's typically spicier, bolder and more potent than bourbon, which may be why bartenders are pouring more and more of it these days. Here are four small batch bottles worth trying for your own rye renaissance.
Ideal for beginners, this easy-drinking rye has a cherry bourbon-like sweetness mixed with the smoky spice of charred wood.
$33 at Amazon
Templeton Small Batch Rye
Still made in small batches in Iowa, this Prohibition-era recipe is surprisingly smooth. Woody, with a touch of brown sugar.
$40 at BevMo
Hudson Manhattan Rye
Using local grain, this has a recognizable rye edge. But the initial heat is tempered with a cocoa and floral finish.
$48 at Cask
High West Double Rye
A spicy mix of two rye whiskeys (one young, one older) with a kick of cinnamon and clove and a soft underbelly of caramel.
$35 at Mel & Rose
Al Capone regularly drank Templeton rye and according to legend, even had it smuggled into Alcatraz.