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6 Best Rye Whiskeys, Blind Tasted And Ranked

2022 was a banner year for rye whiskey releases and it’s not over quite yet. New rye whiskeys are still sneaking onto shelves as the year closes out, which means we still have enough for yet another blind taste test.

For today’s lineup, I grabbed new rye bottles that have come out this month with some that came out maybe last month. Overall, these are new bottles that you’ll likely be able to find a little more easily in January — they’re that new.

The lineup today is as follows:

  • Starlight Distillery Single Barrel Huber’s Cigar Batch Rye Whiskey Finished in Amburana Barrels
  • George Dickel Column Still Collaboration Blend Leopold Bros. Three Chamber Rye
  • Rare Character Presents Single Barrel Series Straight Kentucky Rye Whiskey Cask Strength
  • Pursuit United Blended Straight Rye Whiskeys Finished with Sherry French Reserve Oak
  • Bardstown Bourbon Company Origin Series Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey Finished in Toasted Cherry Wood and Oak Barrels
  • Old Bones Rye Whiskey 10 Year Reserve Straight Rye Whiskey

Let’s dive in and rank some rye whiskeys!

Also Read: The Top Five Rye Whiskey from the Last Six Months on UPROXX

Part 1: The Tasting

Rye Whiskey Blind
Zach Johnston

Taste 1

Rye Whiskey Blind
Zach Johnston

Tasting Notes:

Nose: There’s a clear nuttiness on the nose that mixes Brazil nuts with creamy almond and pecan waffles next to soft leather and a mild sense of white pepper and chili powder.

Palate: The palate has a creaminess that’s kind of like mochi or chai mocha latte with a tobacco spiciness, cedar bark, and more of that creamy nuttiness with a hint of pear and maybe some more white pepper.

Finish: The end leans into the white pepper and mochi with a rush of apple cider and clove tobacco packed into a cedar box with a hint of resin and macadamia nut dipped in dark chocolate sauce.

Taste 2

Rye Whiskey Blind
Zach Johnston

Tasting Notes:

Nose: The nose has clear notes of bright florals (think lavender and orange blossom) next to an almost woody touch of maple syrup with a very mild dusting of dark cacao powder and soft leather.

Palate: The palate opens with touches of holiday-spiced orange oils and rosewater leading towards light marzipan next to a prickly bramble of berry bushes hanging heavy with dark, sweet, and slightly tart fruit.

Finish: The mid-palate holds onto the sweet and meaty date while bitter yet floral Earl Grey tea with a healthy dollop of fresh honey leads towards a finish full of more of that powdery dark cacao just touched by dry chili flakes, adding a slight warmth to the backend.

Taste 3

Rye Whiskey Blind
Zach Johnston

Tasting Notes:

Nose: The nose opens with a classic sense of winter spices — cinnamon barks, whole cloves, freshly ground nutmeg, star anise — next to creamy nog spiked with vanilla and salted toffee with an all-around leatheriness that’s countered by red pepper sharpness.

Palate: The red pepper sharpness gets woody on the palate with a balance of creamy and soft sweet notes tied to vanilla, stewed pear, and prunes countered by woody winter spices soaked in apple cider and baked into mince pies.

Finish: The woodiness of the spices kicks up near the end with a rich and chewy tobacco finish that’s layered with stewed pear, old cherry bark, and wild smudging sage.

Taste 4

Rye Whiskey Blind
Zach Johnston

Tasting Notes:

Nose: There’s a sense of dark fruits — black cherry, dates, rum raisin — on the nose that leads to soft and sweet oak next to worn leather, mulled wine, and brandy-soaked fig cut with nutmeg and clove.

Palate: The taste is more on the woody side of the spice with a clear sense of old-school mulled wine with sweet vanilla and star anise over orange rinds and raisins with a slight chili warmth underneath.

Finish: The chili warmth drives the finish toward a soft red-wine-soaked oak that’s spiced with orchard barks and fruits next to vanilla/cherry tobacco just kissed with dark chocolate.

Taste 5

Rye Whiskey Blind
Zach Johnston

Tasting Notes:

Nose: The nose is classic with fresh cherry layered with nasturtiums, cinnamon sticks, and soft cedar planks just kissed with clove, nutmeg, and anise before light red peppercorns and brandy-soaked cherries dipped in salted dark chocolate kick in.

Palate: The palate follows the nose’s lead with a lush mouthfeel that’s full of spicy stewed fruits and ciders mixing with creamy vanilla and nutty bases over subtle chili pepper spiciness far in the rear of the taste.

Finish: The end pushed the woody spices toward an apple cider/choco-cherry tobacco mix with a cedar box and old leather vibe tying the whole taste together.

Taste 6

Rye Whiskey Blind
Zach Johnston

Tasting Notes:

Nose: The nose is bold with dark burnt orange and vanilla cake frosted with toffee and rum raisin countered by mild winter spices and a sense of old oak staves in a cellar.

Palate: The taste has a mint chocolate vibe that drives the palate toward orange blossoms and fresh honey that’s cut with black pepper and chili powder with a hint of old oak adding a woody underbelly.

Finish: The end leans sweet with toffee and caramel next to honey-dipped apple next to apple cider tobacco rolled with cedar bark.

Part 2: The Ranking

Rye Whiskey Blind
Zach Johnston

6. Old Bones Rye Whiskey 10 Year Reserve Straight Rye Whiskey — Taste 6

Old Bones Rye Whiskey
Backbone Bourbon

ABV: 55%

Average Price: $99

The Whiskey:

This Indiana whiskey was aged for 10 long years before it was finished. The batched whiskey — a classic 95/5 rye — was re-filled into Apera barrels (an Australian sherry) for a final touch of maturation. The whiskey was then bottled with a tiny touch of water.

Bottom Line:

This was really good. All the whiskeys on this list were really good.

5. George Dickel Column Still Collaboration Blend Leopold Bros. Three Chamber Rye — Taste 2

Dickel Leopold Rye
Diageo

ABV: 50%

Average Price: $120

The Whiskey:

The blend is built from four-year-old rye made in Denver at Leopold’s distillery in their bespoke three-chamber column still. The mash bill is 80% Abruzzi Rye and 20% Leopold Floor Malt. That’s blended with George Dickel’s un-released new column still rye, which is a 95% rye cut with five percent malted barley.

Bottom Line:

This has such a nice balance of flavors that it’s really easy to get into. I do prefer this as a killer cocktail base — especially for a Manhattan — but it’s totally suitable for slow sipping on a slow day.

4. Starlight Distillery Single Barrel Huber’s Cigar Batch Rye Whiskey Finished in Amburana Barrels — Taste 1

Starlight Cigar Blend Rye
Louisville Bourbon Buzz/Tyler Zoller

ABV: 56.9%

Average Price: $79

The Whiskey:

This rye from craft distiller Starlight Distillery — part of the Huber Farm and Winery in Southern Indiana — is all about that finish. The four and five-year-old rye whiskey is re-loaded into Brazilian Amburana barrels and left to rest until just right. Finally, the best barrels are batched and then bottled completely as-is.

Bottom Line:

This is funky and fresh! With the proliferation of Amburana casks I’ve been seeing lately, expect to see a lot of these popping up in 2023 — but few will be this refined.

3. Pursuit United Blended Straight Rye Whiskeys Finished with Sherry French Reserve Oak — Taste 4

Pursuit United Rye
Pursuit Spirits

ABV: 54%

Average Price: $75

The Whiskey:

This brand-new rye from the team over at Bourbon Pursuit is a masterful blend. The juice is hewn from Bardtown Bourbon Company 95/5 Kentucky rye batched with two Sagamore Spirit ryes — one a 95/5 and one 52/43/5 rye/corn/malted barley. Those whiskeys are batched and re-barreled into a French sherry reserve cask for a final rest before batching, proofing, and bottling.

Bottom Line:

This is very tasty. It has a deep and fun profile that’s worth sipping or mixing into your favorite cocktail.

2. Rare Character Presents Single Barrel Series Straight Kentucky Rye Whiskey Cask Strength — Taste 3

Rare Character Single Barrel Rye
Rare Character

ABV: 60.94%

Average Price: $79

The Whiskey:

This rare whiskey from Rare Character’s team is a Kentucky rye made from 95% rye and 5% malted barely. The hot juice went into the barrel back in May of 2016. In October of 2022, the Rare Character crew bottled this one barrel of great whiskey completely as-is.

Bottom Line:

This is quintessential rye whiskey. A great sip for those testing the waters.

1. Bardstown Bourbon Company Origin Series Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey Finished in Toasted Cherry Wood and Oak Barrels — Taste 5

BBC Origin Series Rye
Bardstown Bourbon Company

ABV: 48%

Average Price: $69

The Whiskey:

This whiskey — from Bardstown Bourbon Company’s own Origin Series — is their classic 95/5 rye that’s aged for almost five years. Then the whiskey is finished with alternating toasted American oak and toasted cherry wood staves in the barrel. Once the whiskey is just right, it’s batched, proofed, and bottled.

Bottom Line:

This felt both classic and fresh at the same time. It took you somewhere nostalgic and then somewhere new. That’s the mark of a very good whiskey, folks.

Part 3: Final Thoughts

Rye Whiskey Blind
Zach Johnston

All of these were pretty damn great. Ranking them felt a little trite. That said, the top two or three were that little notch above. Still, you won’t be disappointed by any of these. They all offer a little something different that might speak to you. Scroll back up to those tasting notes and find the one that speaks to you and then go with it. Or find the one that sounds new and fun and go with that one. No matter which one you choose, you’ll be in for a real treat!

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