When you think of the history of Whiskey in America, you typically think of Bourbon. But Rye actually has deep roots in our country. Rye was the native spirit of early America. It was the drink of choice for George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. Rye was even used as currency during the Revolutionary War. Bourbon didn't become popular until after the Civil War. It's a sweeter, mellower whiskey that became the drink of choice for Americans in the post-war era. Today, both rye and bourbon are enjoyed by whiskey lovers all over the world. But it's important to remember that rye was here first. It's a true American original.
Rye distillation came from immigrants who had history distilling it in Europe and because rye grain grew easier in the northeast. It was believed that the early settlers brought over their stills with them and began producing rye whiskey soon after they arrived. The first commercial distillery in the United States was built in 1791 by a Scottish immigrant named John Morgan. The humble grain was once the most popular type of whiskey in America, but it fell out of favor after the Civil War.
George Washington was a big fan of rye whiskey and even distilled his own at his Mount Vernon estate. In 1791, he signed the Excise Act, which imposed a tax on all distilled spirits. This tax was highly unpopular with farmers, who were already struggling to make ends meet. In 1794, they staged a revolt known as the Whiskey Rebellion. The Whiskey Rebellion was put down by the US military, but it left a lasting mark on American history.
Some of America’s earliest distilleries were built on the East Coast, in states like Pennsylvania and Maryland. These states were well-suited for distilling due to their climate and ample supplies of rye. Rye whiskey was a popular choice for early American distillers, as it was relatively easy to produce and had a distinct flavor. Today, many of the world’s best-known whiskey brands come from the East Coast, thanks to the region’s rich distilling history.
Today, rye is making a comeback as more and more people are rediscovering its unique flavor. There's no denying that we love American whiskey here at Blind Barrels. Bourbon is still America’s whiskey of choice, but rye offers a phenomenal change of pace. Rye whiskey is known for its spicy flavor, a nice contrast from the sweeter flavors of bourbon. We've found that rye also has a bit of a floral flavor, which makes it perfect for sipping on its own or mixing into cocktails.
If you're looking for a delicious rye whiskey to try, we recommend Rittenhouse Rye and Pikesville. This whiskey has a beautiful amber color and a great balance of spice and sweetness. We also love Sazerac Rye, which has a bit more of a kick to it. We’ve tasted our fair share of amazing craft rye whiskey, including Middle West Spirits’ Dark Pumpernickel Rye, Corbin Cash’s 1917 Rye, Mammoth’s Northern Rye, RE:FIND’s Rye, and Mendocino Spirit’s Captain Fletcher’s Private Reserve Rye Malt.