Whiskey Wednesday: Here’s what golfers should know about rye whiskey

February 5, 2020

We’ve been buzzing through some of the essentials of whiskey knowledge for golfers in the past few weeks. We’ve already addressed the art of putting ice in your whiskey, how to use a flask on the golf course, and the basics of whiskey etiquette, so this week, we’re occupying ourselves with an increasingly large corner of the whiskey world: Rye whiskey. Often overshadowed by its fellow American whiskey, bourbon, there’s probably a couple of bottles of rye whiskey lurking behind the bar at your club, and ordering a dram of rye might prove a bit of a conversation starter at your local club.

So, to make sure you have a good handle on the basics, here’s a quick rundown:

What is rye whiskey?

Whiskey is made by taking a bunch of grains — usually a mixture involving barley, corn, wheat and/or rye — fermenting them and mashing them, before distilling it. If that mixture of grains is made of at least 51 percent corn, then the whiskey that’s distilled from it is called bourbon. If it’s 51 percent rye, then it’s (you guessed it!) rye whiskey.

Can you find rye anywhere else?

Yes! Lets say you have a bourbon, which we know is at least 51 percent corn. That other 49 percent of grains will often include at least some rye. The amount varies. If there’s lots of rye in it, it’s generally known as a high-rye bourbon. But that’s just a description, not a categorization.

What are the characteristics of rye whiskey?

Rye whiskey is generally spicier, peppery, and has a bit more bite than bourbon. I tend to get some darker, licorice notes, too.

Can you drink rye whiskey in cocktails?

Of course! And honestly, if you ask lots of people (myself included), rye whiskies make for the best old fashions, which double as the perfect post-round cocktail.

5 Rye Whiskies to Try The Next Time You’re On The Course

I’m not a whiskey expert, but here’s a handful of rye whiskies I’ve tried recently that I can vouch for…

Rye Whiskey

Wheel Horse Straight Rye Whiskey

Lots of baking spices and pepper, with a subtle touch of orange coming through.


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Rye Whiskey

Sazerac Rye Straight Rye Whiskey

The rye is there, of course, but so are soothing notes of clove and vanilla.


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Rye Whiskey

Bulleit 95 Rye Whiskey

A great entry point if you’re just starting to get into rye. Peppery and citrusy that goes well with Old Fashions.


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Rye Whiskey

Hudson Manhattan Straight Rye Whiskey

Strong and spicy with some darker, rich notes. Its long finish means it sticks around after each sip.


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Rye Whiskey

Sagamore Spirit Cask Strength Straight Rye Whiskey

Add a drop of two or water to take the edge off and experience the full range of tasting notes. Lots of rich dark chocolate notes with some peppery punches in between.


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Rye Whiskey

WhistlePig 10 Year Straight Rye Whiskey

A special whiskey to celebrate a special round. Oaky and caramel-y with some licorice coming through.


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