Whether you’re on the hunt for a punchy switch to your nightcap or experimenting with classic cocktails at home – a rye whiskey is a must-have. And although the bold American spirit is yet to wholly find its footing in the Indian market, several bottles populate the shelves of stores across major cities. We pick the best ones for you to splurge on. By Eshita Srinivas
Bourbons may be America’s poster child for quality spirits but ryes rule the roost across bars and restaurants. Known to be spicy, bold, and robust – they were a rage from the 50s right through to the 1800s until the Prohibition period (which prevented the sale and consumption of alcohol) put a damper on the industry. And by the 2000s, only a few brands that sold authentic rye whiskey remained.
To qualify for the ‘rye’ title, ambers need to be distilled from a mash of at least 51 percent rye. They’re also typically required to be aged in charred oak barrels for at least two years. And as cocktails take centre stage across bars in the world, these whiskies have seen a reawakening – in part due to their integral role in classic concoctions like Manhattan or Sazerac. If you’ve yet to savour the spirit or are experimenting with mixology at home – here’s our pick of the best rye whiskey options in India.
Rye Whiskey: Add a kick to your collection with these bottles
Sazerac Rye Whiskey
Hailing from the French Quarter of New Orleans, the Sazerac was America’s first cocktail. The star of the show? Rye whiskey – barreled and shipped to the city by industrious farmers and distillers. Capturing this spirit, the Sazerac Rye Whiskey comes with notes of clove, vanilla, anise, chocolate, and pepper. Every sip is also reminiscent of candied spices and citrus. The finish, meanwhile, is smooth with hints of liquorice. As the name suggests, this whiskey is perfect for combining with Peychaud’s Bitters to create the classic Sazerac.
Price: INR 11,500 approx.
Templeton Rye Whisky 6 Years
Known to produce whiskey that can be traced right back to the Prohibition period in Iowa, Templeton’s ambers promise legacy and the spirit of community in every sip. The 6-year-old expression was first released in 2016 and is their flagship whiskey. Mature with complex rye notes, it’s charred in new American oak barrels and has a bold oak body with hints of burnt sugar.
It pours a light copper and offers notes of dry spice, flowers, butterscotch, vanilla, cherry, and green apple on the nose. Every sip, meanwhile, is mellow and smooth, with a light mouthfeel that’s reminiscent of toasted oak and green apple. A long finish complements the experience of savouring this whiskey. To note each flavour, enjoy this expression neat or with a splash of water. That said, it also lends itself well to classic whiskey cocktails like Old-Fashioned and Sazerac.
Price: INR 9,000 approx.
Bulleit 95 Rye Whiskey
With the reputation for being one of the fastest-growing whiskeys in America, Bulleit has an impressive lineup of ambers. The brand has been around since 1987 and makes use of a distinctive high-rye recipe which gives the whiskey a bold and spicy flavour. The Rye expression features a whopping 95 percent rye, much higher than the industry standard of 51 percent. It pours a russet, with every sip being reminiscent of vanilla, biscuit, raisins, apricot, honey, and spice. The flavour is smooth and the finish is crisp, clean, and lingering with a hint of toffee. This one’s ideal for Manhattans – all you need is cherry, dash of bitters, and some sweet vermouth.
Price: INR 4,290 approx.
Templeton Rye Whisky 4 Years
The first expression to perfectly represent Templeton’s commitment to quality ambers – this rye whiskey is aged for four years in charred new American oak barrels. Spicy and bold – the 95 percent rye mash packs on the flavour. It pours a deep copper and on the nose are dry and grassy aromas with hints of Christmas spice, red fruits, apple cider, white grapes, and peanuts. Every sip is reminiscent of caramel, apple, vanilla, butterscotch, toffee, and allspice. The whiskey pours a deep amber and has a balanced, clean finish. The punchy flavours make it ideal for sipping on the rocks. That said, it’s the perfect addition to cocktails – especially Old-Fashioned, Sazerac, and Manhattan.
Price: INR 4,000 approx.
Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Rye
From the makers of the best-selling American spirit comes this classic rye number that stays true to the brand’s reputation of producing quality ambers. An in-house time-honoured charcoal mellowing process underlines its production – giving the whiskey a bold and spicy flavour. As smooth as they come, this expression has the aroma of sweet, layered fruit and oak. Every sip is reminiscent of caramel, baking spice, and pepper. Rich from start to finish – this amber can be enjoyed on the rocks, with a splash of water, or in your favourite cocktail.
Price: INR 3,000 approx.
Despite the advent of wallet-friendly single malts, the rye renaissance is here to stay. Best part? Their versatility ensures a bottle doesn’t ever have to gather dust in the back of your home bar. To mix things up a bit, experiment with options like Boulevardier, Boston Sour, and Whiskey Sour which typically feature bourbon. Your cocktail game will never be the same.
All images: Courtesy Brands/Shutterstock
This story first appeared on Lifestyle Asia India