Coke versus Pepsi. Star Trek versus Star Wars. Crunchy tacos versus soft tacos. Each one is a classic battle with throngs of people willing to die on hills on either side of the debate. The same is true of bourbon versus rye whiskey. The two American whiskeys have hardcore acolytes who love one over the other. Some prefer the sweet cherry/vanilla/winter spice vibes of a solid bourbon. Others want a little funk, dank, and wildness in their whiskey — hence rye whiskey being so beloved.
But is bourbon really better than rye or vice versa? Can’t we just enjoy what we like and go along our merry way without putting one thing over another?
But also… debate is fun! So today I’m going to pit 10 new bourbons against 10 new rye whiskeys in a massive blind taste test battle. To get things prepped, I pulled 10 bottles of both bourbon and rye whiskey from my shelf. All of these are either brand-new or new editions of standard releases. They cover everything from standard bottles to cask strength offerings, special oak finishes, small batches, single barrels, and one-off limited editions.
Our lineup today features the following bottles:
- Larceny Barrel Proof Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey Batch No. B523
- Freeland Spirits Cask Strength Straight Bourbon Whiskey Finished In Pinot Noir Casks (S1B55)
- Michter’s US*1 Limited Release Barrel Strength Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey
- Hirsch The Cask Strength Kentucky Straight Bourbon Finished In Cognac Casks
- Rare Character Single Barrel Series Straight Rye Whiskey Finished In Amburana Casks
- New Riff Silver Grove Straight Bourbon Whiskey Barrel Proof Aged 4 Years
- Woody Creek Distillers Colorado Straight Bourbon Whiskey
- Eric LeGrand Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
- 291 Small Batch Colorado Rye Whiskey Finished With Aspen Wood Staves
- World Whiskey Society Class Collection Straight Bourbon Whiskey Finished In Port Cask Aged 10 Years
- Woody Creek Distillers Colorado Straight 100% Rye Whiskey
- Knob Creek Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey Aged 7 Years
- Green River Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
- Barrell Rye Singel Barrel (S1B4)
- Blue Run Emerald Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey
- Bulleit Bourbon Barrel Strength Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
- Blackwood Small Batch Toasted Rye Whiskey Barrel Strength
- Old Potrero Single Barrel Reserve Straight Rye Whiskey (S1B45)
- Hemingway Rye, 1st Edition A Blend Of Straight Rye Whiskeys Finished In Rum Seasoned Olorosso Sherry Casks
- Doc Holliday Straight Bourbon Whiskey Aged 10 Years
The point of all of this? It’s simple. I’m looking for a great whiskey for you to enjoy. I’m not running any tricks or special methodology. This is about what tastes best, full stop. The only thing I’m truly curious about is if there will be a balance to the bourbon and ryes as I rank them after the blind tasting — balance in the force if you want to circle back to Star Wars.
Since this is a titan-level blind-tasting battle, let’s dive right in.
- The 100 Best Bourbon Whiskeys Of 2022, Ranked
- Our Head Drinks Critic Reveals The Expensive Bourbons He *Won’t* Pay Above Retail For
- The Absolute Best Bourbons Between $50-$60, Ranked
- Every Single Buffalo Trace Whiskey & Spirits Brand, Ranked
- The Absolute Best Bourbons Between $20-$30, Ranked
Part 1 — The Bourbon Vs. Rye Whiskey Blind Tasting
Nose: The nose runs deep with dark chili pepper spice next to salted caramel, cherry cake, and rich vanilla with a hint of nuttiness.
Palate: The taste is lush with a deep sense of creamy winter spices mixed into mincemeat pies and eggnog next to malted buckwheat pancakes drizzled in toffee syrup and sprinkled with roasted walnuts, pecans, and almonds with a whisper of wild sage.
Finish: Sharp cinnamon bark and cherry vanilla tobacco round out the finish with a nice balance of creaminess and sharp woody spice leading to a warm and long Kentucky hug (ABV warmth).
Well, this is a nice place to start. This is a sharp yet sweet cask-strength bourbon with a classic vibe. I like it but we have a long, long way to go.
Nose: Leathery red fruit and old vanilla cake with a hint of caramel and dry cranberry mingle with a nice mellow touch of eggnog spices and burnt orange that feels dry.
Palate: There’s a clear cherry pie vibe that leads to a hint of dank red berry and oak cellars with a dry leatheriness tied to the dark fruit and vanilla with a soft sense of dry sweetgrass in the far background.
Finish: The end starts off red and lush and then dives into a cherry apple pie vibe with a dry woody spiced edge.
This is nice. It’s a bourbon thanks to all that cherry but one that’s finished in something that held a dry alcohol (probably wine or sherry).
Nose: Dark cherry and butterscotch candies pop on the nose next to sour red wine mixed with mulled wine spices — lots of cinnamon, clove, and star anise — next to tart apple skins, apple bark, and a hint of dill pickle spices/herbs.
Palate: The palate leans into spices in a subtle way with a nutmeg/eggnog vibe next to rich vanilla ice cream and smoked cherries with a minor note of fresh pipe tobacco and singed cedar bark.
Finish: The end adds some dried red chili and sharp cinnamon to the tobacco with a pinch of freshly cracked black pepper and a supple sense of a fresh fruit bowl with a lot of red berries, singed wild sage and cedar bark braided with coriander stems.
This is just delightful. It’s a funky and fresh rye whiskey (dill pickle spices!) with a deep classic Kentucky feel (dark cherry and sweet vanilla). This is a complex and delicious rye.
Nose: The nose feels lush and oaky with a sense of Christmas cookies, mincemeat pies, and sticky toffee pudding next to stewed plums over fresh scones with a hint of brandy butter.
Palate: Old leather boots filled with cinnamon bark and a medley of dates, figs, and prunes lead to chocolate cut with red chili and vanilla and kissed with salt and dry cedar.
Finish: That cinnamon bark intensifies with dark red fruit, light chili pepperiness, and a sense of old malted cookies dipped in vanilla toffee on the very end.
This is just good. It’s clearly a bourbon (very dark fruit and plummy) but a damn tasty one.
Nose: There’s a soft and fatty nuttiness from the wood on the nose that’s part Brazil nut and part macadamia nut with a rich and sharp woody spiciness that’s full of dry ginger, big strips of cinnamon bark, and handfuls of clove and allspice berries next to soft creamed vanilla and almond paste cut with orange oils and dark cacao waxiness.
Palate: The palate pops with that woody spice and barky florals with a touch of tart red berry, burnt orange, and dry wild sage next to white chocolate and this sense of a hippy den full of incense, oils, and old throw rugs.
Finish: The end amps up the woody spice towards a sharp cinnamon bark and dry star anise with a touch of cream soda and old straw bales before a nutty spiced pipe tobacco arrives with a fleeting sense of fruit boiled down to a thick syrup.
This is wild and fun. It tastes amazingly unique while still presenting as a deep and spicy rye whiskey.
Nose: Sweet salted caramel and dusty old cinnamon sticks lead to oily vanilla pods, red chili spiced cherry syrup, and a sense of cedar planks soaked in red fruit and maple syrup.
Palate: Dried blueberries and woody huckleberries combine with rich salted caramel and ground almond with a sense of classic cherry vanilla bourbon notes adhering to a light sense of chewy tobacco.
Finish: That tobacco really leans into the caramel/cherry/vanilla on the finish as the bourbon-iness of everything peaks with a soft Kentucky hug and subtly sweet end.
Well, this was tasty. It’s classic Kentucky bourbon with a touch of berry and subtle red spice to really take it beyond average to pretty damn great.
Nose: There’s a clear sense of crafty bourbon (light sweet grains) on the nose with a soft sense of winter spice, old caramel candies, and a hint of orange honey.
Palate: The taste leans into the peppery spice with an apple/pear vibe next to red fruit, vanilla beans, and caramelized grains.
Finish: The end is short and slightly spicy with an apple/pear pie filling vibe next to wet biscuit dough.
This was a little crafty without the best balance but fine enough.
Nose: This has a nice and soft nose with classic bourbon notes of cherry, spice, vanilla, and oak with a nice hint of deeper cherry leather and vanilla cake.
Palate: The palate largely follows the nose with a stone-cold classic bourbon mix of soft cherry, lush vanilla, and mild spices tied to a slight oakiness.
Finish: The finish is light (this must be a pretty low-proof whiskey) with a short and sweet bourbon vibe.
This was nice for what it is, standard bourbon. There are no faults, it’s easy drinking, and it gets the job done.
Nose: The nose is lush and leans into rich dark chocolate over dried cherry and cranberry with a hint of raspberry in the mix next to apricot jam cut with cinnamon and clove.
Palate: The taste runs deep with salted dark chocolate kissed with orange and red chili next to gingerbread, pecan maple syrup, and winter spices next to a rush of rye bread crispiness, lightly dried dill, and a sharp sense of fresh mint.
Finish: The salted dark chocolate smooths out the finish with a deep sense of old spice barks, moist marzipan, and a funky sense of herbal rye.
This is a good rye whiskey. It’s funky and herbal yet still sweet and fruity. It’s so good.
Nose: There’s a sense of grape soda and orange zest on the nose with a hint of crafty bourbon grains, dry grass, and old oak.
Palate: The palate sort of leans into red fruit and dry grass with a light sense of orange and vanilla.
Finish: The end is short and has a touch of vanilla cake and holiday spice.
There’s really not much going on here.
Nose: The nose runs deep with a sense of dark yet sweet red cherry, leathery apricot, sourdough rye bread crusts with a hint of caraway, and this whisper of cinnamon and clove.
Palate: Bourbon cherry and dark winter spice lead on the palate before green herbal botanicals and more of that rye vibe come back with a sense of toffee and vanilla.
Finish: The end leans into the sweet side with a touch of cherry and vanilla countered by chili pepper and green savory dry herbs.
This is a pretty nice rye. It’s not mind-blowing, but it lands.
Nose: Classic Beam caramel sweetness with a vanilla underbelly drives the nose toward rye bread crusts, a hint of dried savory herbs, apple blossoms, and a whisper of soft leather gardening gloves.
Palate: The spiciness arrives after lush vanilla cream and salted caramel with a dose of freshly cracked red peppercorns, dried red chili, and sharp winter brown spices next to a spiced oak.
Finish: The creaminess, sweetness, and spiciness coalesce on the finish with a deep sense of fruit orchards full of fall leaves and apple bark.
This is next-level rye that feels very Kentucky (thanks to the underbelly of sweet notes). There’s so much going on and it’s all good.
Nose: There’s a hint of dry cornmeal on the nose with clear and rich butterscotch (which feels a little young) alongside vanilla pudding cups, wet brown sugar, and a hint of an old leather jacket.
Palate: The taste holds onto that leather note as a foundation and builds layers of sticky toffee pudding with vanilla buttercream, a handful of roasted almonds, and a thick buttery toffee sauce tying it all together.
Finish: The finish is green with a big note of fresh mint that leads back to the leather with a whisper of dark fruit leather and Red Hots.
This is pretty good bourbon. It’s classic, nutty, and full-on but still feels very approachable.
Nose: The nose opens with a sense of pain au chocolate next to cardamom pods, earthy spice barks, dark burnt orange, and a fleeting sense of cherry by way of tart black currants, cloves, and salted black licorice.
Palate: The dark chocolate from the pastry drives the taste toward a salted toffee dipped in roasted walnuts with a light sense of orange marzipan, lemony hops, and soft mossiness with a whisper of mustard seed, and maybe some coriander seed.
Finish: There’s an umami vibe that’s almost toasted cinnamon bark with dried forest moss next to sweet and spicy cherry syrup over chocolate-lemon balls with a flake of salt and a sprinkle of dried lavender next to fresh nasturtiums, old cedary tobacco, and freshly baked baguette with a pad of salted creamed butter.
This is wildly good whiskey — rye or bourbon. Well, it’s clearly rye, but still — amazing.
Nose: Woody winter spices — clove, cardamom, nutmeg, cinnamon — lead on the nose with a hint of creamy toffee and vanilla cake that’s countered by chili spices and a pinch of cumin, almost like a garam masala.
Palate: The palate has a thick buttery caramel sweetness with a sharp chili pepper fresh spiciness next to stewed apples and pears with sultanas, woody winter spice, and cut with a hint of clove brandy.
Finish: The end has a leathery vibe with a buttery apple crumble tobacco vibe with a hint of old cedar bark and spiced barks rolled up with burnt orange and dried tart cherry.
This is a very nice, very classic rye. It leans hard into the stewed fruits with a nice balance of spiciness. Classic.
Nose: The nose is full of classic bourbon notes of spiced cherry cake, vanilla pods, soft oak, and a touch of leather and nuttiness.
Palate: The taste delivers stewed peaches next to peppery spice, a hint of Christmas spices, and rich vanilla caramel cake with a twinge of cherry/ginger.
Finish: The stone fruit, cherry, woody spices, and vanilla all come together on a lush and warming end.
This is a really nice bourbon. That’s all.
Nose: The nose is a straight-up classic with a sense of cherry and cinnamon tied to fresh and chewy tobacco with a sense of old cedar bark braided with dry sweetgrass and smudging sage with a light sense of pear candy and cream soda.
Palate: The taste leans into spiced cherry tobacco and stewed pear with a hint of marmalade and peach cobbler next to a hint of black-tea-soaked dates, salted whiskey-laced toffee, and clotted cream before a red chili pepper spiciness kicks in with a sense of cinnamon and cherry bark.
Finish: The woodies of the orchard fruit and spice drive the warm finish — but never hot — toward a luxurious and creamy end full of sharp yet sweet tobacco, a whisper of dank resin, and echoes of old fruit orchards.
This is another great rye whiskey. There’s just so much going on and it’s all good.
Nose: Molasses heavy bran muffins mingle with dry cinnamon sticks, Granny Smith apple skins, and Red Hots next to rum-raisin and a twinge of an old oak stave and craft grain porridge with a caramelized edge.
Palate: The palate leans into ginger snaps with plenty of cinnamon and nutmeg next to vanilla pudding right out of the cup and a dry sense of cedar kindling.
Finish: The end holds onto the dry woodiness with a layer of salted caramel raisins, sweet porridge, and vanilla candy on the very end.
This is a nice but very crafty rye. That sweet grain crafty vibe was well balanced with the overall profile, so I’m not complaining.
Nose: Rich and old oak mingles with salted caramel, dark maple syrup, and sheets of dark fruit leather next to a soft sense of caraway rye toast with a soft creamed vanilla butter and a light touch of cherry compote.
Palate: That cherry takes on a slightly tart and salted aura on the taste as the salted caramel leads to huge sticks of cinnamon bark, clove-studded oranges, and a smudging bundle full of wild sage, sweetgrass, and cedar bark.
Finish: Those smoldering botanicals linger on the finish as a soft cinnamon cake with salted toffee drizzle and a whisper of dark chocolate-covered espresso beans counter the rye dank.
Damn, this is really good rye whiskey. I want to return to this and keep digging into that flavor profile.
Nose: Sour cherry and peach pie mix with classic oily vanilla pods, deep caramel, and soft cedar planks just touched with apricot and dates.
Palate: The sip is warm yet balanced with burnt orange, apricot jam, and soft marzipan next to black-tea-soaked dates, old figs, and brandy-stewed prunes all cut with Christmas spices and dipped in dark chocolate.
Finish: That chocolate takes on a Nutella vibe at the end with a nice mix of mincemeat pies and sticky toffee pudding.
This is just nice and sweet classic bourbon through and through. It’s lush and delicious.
Part 2 — The Bourbon Vs. Rye Whiskey Ranking
20. World Whiskey Society Class Collection Straight Bourbon Whiskey Finished In Port Cask Aged 10 Years — Taste 10
Average Price: $164
This whiskey is distilled in Oklahoma but bottled in Georgia. The whiskey in the bottle is made from a mash bill (recipe) of 51% corn, 45% wheat, and 4% malted barley. That hot juice was then aged for almost a decade before going into a huge port cask for a final rest.
This is the only whiskey that failed today. It was a little off. I’d skip.
19. Woody Creek Distillers Colorado Straight Bourbon Whiskey — Taste 7
Average Price: $56
This Colorado craft distillery is all about that Rocky Mountain vibe. The whiskey is made from a 70% corn mash with a touch of local rye and malted barley mixed with Rocky Mountain spring water. The whiskey is aged for at least four years in deeply charred new oak before batching, proofing, and bottling.
This was fine. I could see using this for mixing highballs. But if you’re not in Colorado, you don’t need to go out of your way for this one. If you are in Colorado, give it try in a cocktail.
18. Freeland Spirits Cask Strength Straight Bourbon Whiskey Finished In Pinot Noir Casks (S1B55) — Taste 2
Average Price: $56
This single barrel pick from ReserveBar is a great entry point for the Portland, Oregon-based Freeland. The whiskey in the bottle is made from a five-year-old bourbon made from a mash of 70% corn, 20% rye, and 10% malted barley. That whiskey was then loaded into an Elk Cove Pinot Noir barrel for a final one-year-long rest before bottling completely as-is.
This is where we get into the good stuff (I know, we’ve barely started). This is a really nice red wine-finished bourbon with a good depth. I could see pairing this with an easy meal with a lot of fresh herbs and game or cold-water seafood. It feels like it’d make a nice cocktail too.
17. Old Potrero Single Barrel Reserve Straight Rye Whiskey (S1B45) — Taste 18
Average Price: $86
This whiskey is a bit of a throwback with a West Coast vibe. The juice is 100 percent rye whiskey made at Hotaling & Co. in Potrero Hill, one of San Francisco’s most iconic spots for booze. As of this year, the spirit is being distilled on the waterfront in San Francisco but still carries that Anchor Brewing heritage. With that move, the bottle also got a brand new design that leans into San Francisco’s sea-faring history.
This is a nice, crafty rye whiskey. It’s well-balanced and gives you the best of the crafty and classic vibes. Overall, I could see using this for good cocktails with a hint of citrus and nuttiness.
16. Green River Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey — Taste 13
Average Price: $38
Green River Distillery has been pumping out contract-distilled whiskey for a while. In the spring of 2022, they finally released their much anticipated Green River Bourbon to much hoopla. The bourbon is a blend of five years and older barrels of bourbon made from a mash bill of 70% corn, 21% winter rye, and 9% malted two-row and six-row barley. Those barrels and batched, proofed, and bottled as-is for this new whiskey.
This is a really good standard bourbon. I can see mixing cocktails with this easily. It also would make a good table whiskey. It’s easygoing and easy to sip.
15. Woody Creek Distillers Colorado Straight 100% Rye Whiskey — Taste 11
Average Price: $42
This Colorado whiskey is made from a mash bill of 100% Colorado rye that’s grown up in the Rocky Mountains. The grain-to-glass whiskey is distilled on custom-built stills before four years of resting in new American oak.
This is a pretty good rye whiskey all things considered. It’s standard stuff but would make a killer cocktail or mid-week sipper (it’s the kind of whiskey that you don’t have to think about and can just enjoy).
14. Eric LeGrand Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey — Taste 8
Average Price: $49
This whiskey — from former college football star Eric LeGrand (whose career was cut short due to a spinal injury while playing for Rutgers) — is made from classic Kentucky bourbon. The juice is distilled in Owensboro, Kentucky, and then batched and bottled in Bardstown (via the Bardstown Bourbon Company). The whiskey is classic corn, rye, and barley mash made with that iconic Kentucky limestone water.
Perhaps more importantly, Eric LeGrand donates $5.20 of every case sold of this bourbon to the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation.
A solid whiskey that played with a lot of titans today and held its own well!
13. Larceny Barrel Proof Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey Batch No. B523 — Taste 1
Average Price: $59 (Coming in May)
The spring edition of Larceny is on its way. The whiskey is a barrel-strength version of Larceny wheated bourbon (68% corn, 20% wheat, and 12% malted barley) created for a small batch of six to eight-year-old barrels. Those barrels come together and go into the bottle 100% as-is.
This is where we get into the delicious whiskeys. This is a killer Larceny release. It’s a bit warm but still delivers a deep and satisfying bourbon vibe.
12. 291 Small Batch Colorado Rye Whiskey Finished With Aspen Wood Staves — Taste 9
Average Price: $88
This award-winning rye from Colorado’s 291 Distillery is a modern classic. The whiskey is made from malted rye in a one-of-a-kind pot still. The hot whiskey goes into new American oak with toasted aspen wood staves for a year before batching and bottling as-is.
Great! It’s kind of amazing this is only one-year-old whiskey. Still, it runs deep and delivers strong. And I would 100% say that this is worth tracking down even if you’re not in Colorado.
11. Blue Run Emerald Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey — Taste 15
Average Price: $110
The latest release from Blue Run is their second rye release, Emerald Rye. The whiskey is contract distilled at Castle & Key in Frankfort, Kentucky. The limited run yielded only 189 barrels that were expertly blended and bottled as-is.
Blue Run hit it out of the park with the build of this whiskey. It’s subtle yet familiar and comforting. Get some while you still can.
10. Bulleit Bourbon Barrel Strength Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey — Taste 16
Average Price: $92
The sourced bourbon is small-batched from hand-selected barrels and bottled at Diageo’s new Bulleit facility without any filtration or cutting down to proof. Basically, we’re talking about Bulleit dialed in to as close to bourbon excellence as it can get.
This is just good bourbon. If your local spot carries this, get two. It’s a crowd-pleasing bourbon that works wonders over some ice or in a cocktail.
9. Hirsch The Cask Strength Kentucky Straight Bourbon Finished In Cognac Casks — Taste 4
Average Price: $210
This cask-strength version of Hirsch is made from a classic bourbon mash of 72% corn, 13% rye, and 15% malted barley. That hot juice then rests for six years in new American oak. Those barrels are batched and then re-filled into 30-year-old Hine XO fine cognac casks for another year-and-a-half of resting. Finally, the whiskey is batched and bottled as-is.
This might be my favorite Hirsch release. It has a serious depth that’s perfectly accented by the subtle cognac notes. If you’re looking for a great food pairing whiskey, this is a must-have.
8. Rare Character Single Barrel Series Straight Rye Whiskey Finished In Amburana Casks — Taste 5
Average Price: $104
This is a niche whiskey company started by whiskey legend Andrew Shapira (if you know, you know) with partners Peter Nevenglosky and Pablo Moix. The whiskey is a single barrel of whiskey that was hidden away as an “experimental” cask until the Rare Character team rescued it and gave it to the world. The experiment in this case was aging classic rye in Brazilian Amburana casks to see how a non-oak wood finish would work with rye whiskey.
This is out there, wildly flavored, and bold AF, and it goddamn rules. If you’re looking for something completely new and delicious in the whiskey world (rye or not), this is it.
7. New Riff Silver Grove Straight Bourbon Whiskey Barrel Proof Aged 4 Years — Taste 6
Average Price: $55
This new and very limited release from New Riff (it’s a distillery-only release for now) is an hommage to Cincinnati’s Carthage neighborhood and the Edward Brinkmann Distillery’s 1933 bottling of “Silver Grove.” The actual whiskey in the bottle is made from a mash of 65% corn, 30% malted rye, and 5% malted barley. That whiskey was left alone for four years before batching and bottling as-is.
This is damn fine bourbon from one of the best “craft” distilleries working today. If you’re anywhere near Northern Kentucky, or Cincinnati, Ohio, get yourself over to the distillery for a bottle ASAP.
6. Knob Creek Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey Aged 7 Years — Taste 12
Average Price: $36
This new whiskey from Beam marks the big age-statement return of their iconic Knob Creek Rye. The whiskey in this case was aged seven years before batching, slight proofing, and bottling.
This is excellent rye whiskey for mixing up killer cocktails. It totally works as a nice on-the-rocks sipper too. Basically, this is a whiskey that can do anything!
5. Blackwood Small Batch Toasted Rye Whiskey Barrel Strength — Taste 17
Average Price: $150
This rye is sourced from expertly picked barrels for a very small batch offering. The mash is a classic 95/5 rye/malted barley bill. The barrels are close to seven years old before a handful came together to create this barrel-strength bottling of only 620 bottles.
This is so deep, enticing, and delicious that it almost haunts you after you taste it. This is the good stuff, folks.
4. Doc Holliday Straight Bourbon Whiskey Aged 10 Years — Taste 20
Average Price: $184
This whiskey is distilled in Georgia from a mash of 80% corn, 10% malted corn, 5% rye, and 5% malted barley. The whiskey then rests for 10 long years in Georgia before batching, a touch of proofing, and bottling.
A 90% corn bourbon is a lot of sugar. That said, this really works. It’s deep and lush and goes down like a luxurious slow sipper.
3. Hemingway Rye, 1st Edition A Blend Of Straight Rye Whiskeys Finished In Rum Seasoned Olorosso Sherry Casks — Taste 19
Average Price: $109
This whiskey is a unique one. The blend is made up of two whiskeys — 94% is a nine-year-old 95/5 (rye/malted barley) Indiana rye and 6% is a four-year-old 95/5 Kentucky rye. Those whiskeys were batched and then re-filled into a rum-season Oloroso sherry cask for a final rest before batching, proofing, and bottling.
Delicious. Great value. Get it.
2. Michter’s US*1 Limited Release Barrel Strength Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey — Taste 3
Average Price: $223
This rare Michter’s expression is pulled from single barrels that were just too good to batch or cut. Once the barrels hit the exact right flavor profile, each one is filtered with Michter’s bespoke system and then bottled as-is at the strength it came out of the barrel.
This is where we get into the stellar stuff. This makes a wonderful cocktail, thanks to the ice taking the edge off the high ABVs. That said, if you’re looking for a classic Kentucky rye with a spicy/fruity sweet edge with a nice kick, this is the pour.
1. Barrell Rye Singel Barrel (S1B4) — Taste 14
Average Price: $100
This ReserveBar barrel pick is from a single barrel of Indiana rye (95/5) that spent seven years resting before it was bottled. The whiskey when into the bottle completely as-is from the barrel.
This was also next-level stellar whiskey. The main reason that this won out is that it just goes so deep. This whiskey truly takes you on a journey that you want to never stop. It’s so good that $100 doesn’t even feel that expensive for what it is. It’s just great.
Part 3 — Final Thoughts on the Bourbon and Rye Whiskeys
I’m not really that surprised that the rye whiskeys dominated the top slots. Still, the top 10 was a 60/40 split between ryes and bourbons. Good whiskey is good whiskey, folks. Today, the ryes edged out the bourbons but tomorrow that might be flipped. It really depends on which bottles are in the test.
As for the rest of the whiskeys, I really only feel like the bottom two are skippable. The rest are pretty much as solid as it gets. Numbers 18 through 11 are good, solid whiskeys that are sure to please. Numbers 10 through four are really good whiskeys. You cannot go wrong with any of those pours.
But it’s the top three that really shine. Each one is a masterpiece in its own right. Get any one, or all three. They’re great.