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Rye Whiskey question

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Rye Whiskey question

Postby Shell » Mon Dec 13, 2010 4:34 pm

I have become an aficionado of Rye Whiskey. What is the difference between Rye produced in the U.S. that is labeled "straight rye" and those simply "rye whiskey"? I have assumed that the mash bill is always 100% rye - is that correct?

Thanks very much.
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Re: Rye Whiskey question

Postby lockejn » Mon Dec 13, 2010 5:01 pm

In the US, the only requirements for "rye whiskey" are:
- the mashbill must contain at least 51% rye
- the spirit must be distilled to no more than 160 US Proof
- the spirit must be aged in charred, new oak barrels (American oak?)
- the spirit must be barreled at not more than 125 US Proof

The "straight" designation requires only that the spirit be aged for not less than two years as described above.

There are plenty of ryes produced with a 100% rye mashbill, but certainly not all.

See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rye_whiskey
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Re: Rye Whiskey question

Postby Shell » Mon Dec 13, 2010 6:56 pm

Thank you for the clarification.

Which ryes are produced with a 100% rye mashbill?

I very much enjoy the informative review and insights of Whisky Magazine.

Thanks and best regards,

Shell
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Re: Rye Whiskey question

Postby sku » Fri Dec 17, 2010 1:30 am

There are not many US ryes that are produced with a 100% rye mashbill. In fact Old Potrero is the only one I can think of. There may be some other microdistilleries that make 100% rye. None of the major rye whiskeys are 100% rye.

WhistlePig is also 100% rye but it is a Canadian Whisky.
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Re: Rye Whiskey question

Postby lockejn » Fri Dec 17, 2010 1:41 am

sku wrote:There are not many US ryes that are produced with a 100% rye mashbill. In fact Old Potrero is the only one I can think of. There may be some other microdistilleries that make 100% rye. None of the major rye whiskeys are 100% rye.

WhistlePig is also 100% rye but it is a Canadian Whisky.

Err, WhistlePig is distilled in Vermont. Master distiller is Dave Pickerell of Maker's Mark fame. It is 100% rye, though.

Old Portero, as mentioned, Mosby's, and Roundstone are all 100% rye. I'm certain I've seen others as well.
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Re: Rye Whiskey question

Postby sku » Fri Dec 17, 2010 1:47 am

lockejn wrote:Err, WhistlePig is distilled in Vermont. Master distiller is Dave Pickerell of Maker's Mark fame. It is 100% rye, though.


WhistlePig is bottlied in Vermont. It is distilled in Canada by an unnamed Canadian distillery. It says so right on the label and Pickerell has made no secret of the fact that he does not distill this whiskey.
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Re: Rye Whiskey question

Postby lockejn » Fri Dec 17, 2010 1:52 am

sku wrote:WhistlePig is bottlied in Vermont. It is distilled in Canada by an unnamed Canadian distillery. It says so right on the label and Pickerell has made no secret of the fact that he does not distill this whiskey.

I stand corrected - and disappointed. Very misleading website and other miscellaneous marketing. Damn shame.
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Re: Rye Whiskey question

Postby sku » Fri Dec 17, 2010 1:54 am

lockejn wrote:I stand corrected - and disappointed. Very misleading website and other miscellaneous marketing. Damn shame.


Hey, the whiskey is still really good, which is after all, what is important. And while you are right about the website, WhistlePig has been more open than some American companies about not having distilled its whiskey.
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Re: Rye Whiskey question

Postby Klondike » Fri Dec 17, 2010 8:07 pm

I don't have much to add as american whiskeys are by no means my specialty, and least of all ryes, but I'm fairly certain that all ryes and bourbons have to spend at least 2 years in new oak barrels by law and remain without colouring. Thus I got a bit confused by the mentioned distinction between rye and straight rye. Are you sure of this?
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Re: Rye Whiskey question

Postby Shell » Fri Dec 17, 2010 8:14 pm

lockejn wrote:
sku wrote:There are not many US ryes that are produced with a 100% rye mashbill. In fact Old Potrero is the only one I can think of. There may be some other microdistilleries that make 100% rye. None of the major rye whiskeys are 100% rye. ...


... I'm certain I've seen others as well.


In the last day of so, I've come across these 100% ryes:

Catoctin Creek Organic Roundstone Rye from VA. (The age of the whiskey is not mentioned on the website.)

Grand Traverse Distillery's Ole George Whiskey is distilled from a 100% rye mashbill and I believe it is a 2 year old rye. Grand Traverse is a relatively new distillery in northern MI. The website indicates a limited supply for sale and only available at the distillery for purchase this year. (I am in southeastern MI and have yet to get there to try it.)

Lion's Pride Organic Whiskey made by Koval Distilery, a new distillery in Chicago. (The website doesn't indicate the age of the whiskey.)

Hirsch Selection Canadian Rye, 10 yr. and 12 yr., are rye whiskies distilled in Canada, but available in the U.S. (I have heard good things about this whiskey.)
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Re: Rye Whiskey question

Postby Klondike » Fri Dec 17, 2010 8:32 pm

Klondike wrote:I don't have much to add as american whiskeys are by no means my specialty, and least of all ryes, but I'm fairly certain that all ryes and bourbons have to spend at least 2 years in new oak barrels by law and remain without colouring. Thus I got a bit confused by the mentioned distinction between rye and straight rye. Are you sure of this?


I just did a bit of studying and found this document: http://www.straightbourbon.com/27cfr5.pdf

In short; I stand corrected. The distinction is precisely in the fact that the straight whisky has to be aged in 100% new, charred oak barrels for a minimum of two years and this does not apply to "simple" Bourbon, Corn or Rye... Sorry for my ignorance!
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Re: Rye Whiskey question

Postby sku » Fri Dec 17, 2010 8:54 pm

Klondike wrote:In short; I stand corrected. The distinction is precisely in the fact that the straight whisky has to be aged in 100% new, charred oak barrels for a minimum of two years and this does not apply to "simple" Bourbon, Corn or Rye... Sorry for my ignorance!


That's right. There is actually no required aging for Bourbon and rye. The only requirement is that it must spend some time in new charred oak. That could theoretically 30 seconds. Corn whiskey is an exception in that it does not have to be stored in oak at all.

In fact, though, the vast majority of Bourbons and ryes on the market are "straights." It's really only some of the craft distillers that are doing Bourbon and rye at less than two years old.
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Re: Rye Whiskey question

Postby Klondike » Fri Dec 17, 2010 11:07 pm

sku wrote:In fact, though, the vast majority of Bourbons and ryes on the market are "straights." It's really only some of the craft distillers that are doing Bourbon and rye at less than two years old.


Yeah, I guess this must be it. I have only seen the Bourbons that are available on the european markets and never gave it much thought as they all seem to mention the word "straight" and thus have never distinguished between the two. We don't see many of the small craft-distillers on this side of the pond, at least not in Denmark :x
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Re: Rye Whiskey question

Postby Shell » Sat Dec 18, 2010 1:23 am

sku wrote:
Klondike wrote:In short; I stand corrected. The distinction is precisely in the fact that the straight whisky has to be aged in 100% new, charred oak barrels for a minimum of two years and this does not apply to "simple" Bourbon, Corn or Rye... Sorry for my ignorance!


That's right. There is actually no required aging for Bourbon and rye. The only requirement is that it must spend some time in new charred oak. That could theoretically 30 seconds. Corn whiskey is an exception in that it does not have to be stored in oak at all.

In fact, though, the vast majority of Bourbons and ryes on the market are "straights." It's really only some of the craft distillers that are doing Bourbon and rye at less than two years old.


Regarding the age of bourbon, here is an excerpt from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bourbon_whiskey:

Legal requirements
On May 4, 1964, the United States Congress recognized Bourbon Whiskey as a "distinctive product of the United States." The Federal Standards of Identity for Distilled Spirits (27 C.F.R. 5.22) state that bourbon must meet these requirements:
- Bourbon must be made of a grain mixture that is at least 51% corn (maize).[1]
- Bourbon must be distilled to no more than 160 (U.S.) proof (80% alcohol by volume).
- Neither coloring nor flavoring may be added.
- Bourbon must be aged in new, charred oak barrels.[1]
- Bourbon must be entered into the barrel at no more than 125 proof (62.5% alcohol by volume).
- Bourbon, like other whiskeys, may be bottled at not less than 80 proof (40% alcohol by volume.)
- Bourbon that meets the above requirements and has been aged for a minimum of two years may (but is not required to) be called Straight Bourbon.[2]
- Straight Bourbon aged for a period less than four years must be labeled with the duration of its aging.
- If an age is stated on the label, it must be the age of the youngest whiskey in the bottle.
- Only whiskey produced in the United States can be called bourbon.[3]

In practice, almost all bourbons marketed today are made from more than two-thirds corn, have been aged at least four years, and do qualify as "straight bourbon"-with or without the "straight bourbon" label. The exceptions are inexpensive commodity brands of bourbon aged only three years and pre-mixed cocktails made with straight bourbon aged the minimum two years. However, a few small distilleries market bourbons aged for as little as three months.
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