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A Return to Rye

The Resurgence of American Rye Whiskey in the Bartender's Toolkit

Article by Brandon Cummins Director of Education/Altamar Brands

Photography by Brandon Cummins

Originally published in Lawrence City Lifestyle

Whether you're a casual fan of whiskey and whiskey cocktails, or a connoisseur, American Rye Whiskey and Rye Cocktails should absolutely be on your radar, especially now as many craft cocktail bartenders embrace this classic spirit.

American Rye Whiskey predates the now, much more recognized category of Bourbon finding its start in the late 1700's, primarily in the northeast. 

So what are a few basics? Well, American Rye Whiskey is required to be made from a minimum of 51% Rye as its base grain - unlike Bourbon which is a minimum of 51% Corn. This grain ratio, often called the "mash bill", not only sets the whiskey apart in production, but also in flavor. Rye tends to be more dry with a touch more spice and fruit notes than Bourbon. Similar to Bourbon, it is required to be aged in New Charred American White Oak Barrels which add flavors such as caramel, cherry, and vanilla - and they must be distilled here in the United States.

High N Wicked's Kentucky Straight Rye, is distilled and bottled entirely in Kentucky - and labeled "Straight" meaning it has been aged for a minimum of 2 years, however it's actually aged for a minimum of 5 years, giving the whiskey more time to mature in the barrel. The High N Wicked Rye is also what's referred to as a "High Rye" Rye Whiskey - meaning more than 90% of the grains used in the mash bill are Rye. This creates a flavor profile with notes of cinnamon, caramelized apples, a subtle note of popcorn and a hint of black pepper. 

There's no doubt that Rye Whiskey is an iconic American Spirit, fantastic both straight and in whiskey cocktails.

Maple Rye Old Fashioned

A perfect strong sipper for the Autumn.

2oz High N Wicked KY Straight Rye Whiskey

½ oz Cinnamon Maple Syrup*

3 dashes of Angostura Aromatic Bitters

Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass. Add ice and stir until well diluted. Strain over fresh ice in a rocks glass, and garnish with a fresh orange peel twist. 

Fall Spiced Rye Sour

Fresh and citrusy with baking spices throughout.

2 oz High N Wicked KY Straight Rye Whiskey

¾ oz Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice

½ oz Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice

½ oz Maple Syrup

5 dashes of Angostura Aromatic Bitters

Combine all ingredients in a shaker tin, add ice and shake hard. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass, and garnish with a fresh slice of lemon.

*Cinnamon Maple Syrup: combine equal parts maple syrup and water in a stock pot over low heat do not boil. Add in three cinnamon sticks and stir slowly for 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow all contents to cool for 15 minutes. Strain off cinnamon and store syrup in the fridge in an airtight container for no more than 7 days.