Pikesville Rye Whiskey bottle

Pikesville Rye Whiskey made the list of best rye whiskeys. (Credit: Heaven Hill Distillery)

Step aside, bourbon! Rye whiskey is stepping into the spotlight, with its spicy kick and unique flavor profile captivating palates worldwide. Whether you’re a seasoned whiskey aficionado or simply curious to explore beyond the bourbon aisle, rye’s bold character is worth a sip (or several). But with so many options on the shelves, navigating the world of rye whiskey can be daunting. Fear not, intrepid explorer! This guide cuts through the rye-valry to unveil the top contenders, from smooth sippers to cocktail powerhouses. Get ready to discover hidden gems, explore classic favorites, and find the perfect rye to tantalize your taste buds. So, raise a glass and prepare to embark on a delicious journey into the world of the best rye whiskey!

We at StudyFinds have researched across 11 expert sources to bring you today’s list of the top seven best rye whiskey bottles you can find. Don’t agree with our list or feel we missed out on your favorite? No worries, we would love to hear from you in the comments down below. 

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Bourbon whiskey being poured into glasses
Rye whiskey being poured into glasses (Photo by Dylan de Jonge on Unsplash)

The List: Best Rye Whiskey, According to Experts

1. Old Overholt Straight Rye Whiskey

Old Overholt Straight Rye Whiskey is a timeless classic that has been enjoyed by whiskey connoisseurs for over two centuries. With its rich history and smooth flavor profile, “Old Overholt is proof that you don’t have to shell out a lot of cash for a dependable rye whiskey. This brand, produced at the James B. Beam Distilling Co. in Kentucky, is an affordable rye that will make any cocktail sing. The brand has been upgraded in recent years—it now has a four-year-old age statement. There is a bottled-in-bond version available as well, but this bottle is readily available and always reliable,” writes Robb Report.

Old Overholt Straight Rye Whiskey
Old Overholt Straight Rye Whiskey (beamdistilling.com)

“Now produced in Kentucky by the James B. Beam Distilling Co., Old Overholt began its life more than two centuries ago in Pennsylvania. The 4-year-old straight rye, bottled at 86 proof, balances caramel and peppercorns with a hit of toasted cereal. It’s got everything you want in a bottle of rye — spicy, balanced, and easy to mix into cocktails, though excellent on its own, too,” says Food and Wine.

“A favorite of bartenders and budget-conscious whiskey drinkers, Old Overholt has stood the test of time. Case in point: the brand boasts that it was the most popular spirit in the country after Prohibition was lifted. And while you’ll often see it as the stiffer half of a Boilermaker, this rye can also be stirred into a fine Manhattan or a spicy Old Fashioned,” states Liquor.

2. Wild Turkey 101 Straight Rye Whiskey

Wild Turkey 101 Straight Rye Whiskey is a bold and robust spirit that embodies the rich heritage and craftsmanship of the Wild Turkey brand. Known for its high rye content, “Pronounced spice, vanilla notes, and a lingering smokiness on the palate define the distinctive character of this overproof rye from Wild Turkey,” notes Food and Wine.

“The 101 Rye has a tawny appearance. The nose was very light with caramel, vanilla, and honey notes. There was also a little leather, which carried over to the light palate. The taste had a pleasant smoke, oak, and fruity notes. The extended finish had a warm spiciness. This rye works well on its own or in a cocktail,” explains Insider.

“This rye ticks all the boxes that a bartender (home or professional) should seek from a well pour. It’s balanced, with an overall sweet profile accented by fresh herbs and faint savory spices. The ABV content and decent concentration of flavor mean it’s ready for action at cocktail hour, while a fairly lengthy finish ensures it can be enjoyed neat alongside a cold beer,” describes Vine Pair.

3. Sazerac Straight Rye Whiskey

Sazerac Straight Rye Whiskey is a true classic in the world of spirits. Known for its rich history and impeccable quality, this whiskey has been delighting connoisseurs for generations. “Produced at the Sazerac-owned Buffalo Trace distillery in Kentucky, this whiskey brand endured when so many others in the rye field fell by the wayside, keeping its signature, eponymous cocktail alive (especially in New Orleans). It has a well-rounded profile and culminates with a heavy dose of spice, offering the ideal option for mixing that namesake drink,” reports Vine Pair.

Sazerac Straight Rye Whiskey
Sazerac Straight Rye Whiskey (sazerac.com)

“Sazerac Rye Whiskey is made by the legendary Buffalo Trace Distillery, makers of Pappy Van Winkle, and my favorite bourbon, Weller Special Reserve. Raymond recommended Sazerac because it’s approachable. He liked that all the flavors are laid before you, unlike the layers in pricier whiskeys. This makes Sazerac ideal for beginners,” comments Insider.

“Sazerac Rye succeeds in offering a sweet, fruit-forward flavor profile complemented by a rye spice pop that develops in the finish. While others do the same, there is certainly enough variation among brands to leave room to allow Sazerac Rye’s subtle attributes to shine through. ‘Baby Saz,’ as fans lovingly refer to it, is an essential rye whiskey that has stood the test of time,” says Breaking Bourbon.

4. Michter’s US-1 Straight Rye Whiskey

Michter’s US-1 Straight Rye Whiskey is a true testament to the rich history and tradition of American whiskey-making. Crafted with meticulous attention to detail and a commitment to quality, “Michter’s US-1 Straight Kentucky Rye is a single-barrel whiskey that, while not disclosing its exact age, always has at least three years on it. The rye has a classic fruit-spice character with orange and butterscotch notes and a balanced peppery tingle,” states Food and Wine.

Michter's US-1 Straight Rye Whiskey
Michter’s US-1 Straight Rye Whiskey (michters.com)

“Michter’s is renowned for rye and takes the production of its US-1 Kentucky Straight Rye extremely seriously. The spirit is made from select American rye grain, sheared to maximize the extraction of flavor. On the nose, you’ll get aromas of cherry, green apple, caramel, spice, and oak. You’ll taste similar flavors, along with cinnamon, baking, and citrus, followed by a slow, dry finish,” raves Taster’s Club.

“Michter’s has mostly transitioned to bottling whiskey distilled at its Shively, Kentucky distillery for its core lineup, but over the years, it has contracted distilled and sourced bourbon and rye, and most of it has been very good. The flagship rye whiskey is a single-barrel release that is bottled at 84.8 proof and happens to be a superb cocktail component. The flavor will vary a bit depending on which barrel it came from, but expect notes of toffee, apple, and baking spice on the palate, which is bold enough to stand out in any classic or new-school whiskey drink you can think of,” adds Robb Report.

5. Knob Creek Straight Rye Whiskey

Knob Creek Straight Rye Whiskey is a remarkable addition to the world of American rye whiskies. “This rye whiskey from Knob Creek, part of the Jim Beam Small Batch Collection, just got a new seven-year-old age statement. But that’s not the real reason this is the best rye whiskey out there. At 100 proof, it’s sturdy enough to use in a cocktail or sip on its own, and the Kentucky-style mashbill of somewhere just above the legally required 51 percent rye grain means there’s a bit of spice but also loads of sweet vanilla, tannic oak, and butter caramel notes on the palate,” says Robb Report.

“Even Knob Creek’s bourbon contains a strong dose of rye, so it’s no surprise their rye whiskey excels. The tightrope of spice and sweet fruit is beautifully calibrated. If you can find it, the Twice Barreled Rye is a fantastic, concentrated whiskey with sweet toasted vanilla and cafe mocha notes at its core,” writes Food and Wine.

“Knob Creek Straight Rye Whiskey is a flavorful whiskey that holds no punches. Aged patiently in charred oak barrels and bottled at 100 proof, it offers a complex and rich flavor profile. Each sip reveals a captivating blend of sweet vanilla, caramel, and a touch of toasted nuts, resulting in an exquisite drinking experience. If you’re a bourbon enthusiast looking to add a rye whiskey to your liquor cabinet, Knob Creek Straight Rye Whiskey will make the perfect addition to your collection because of its relatively low rye mash bill and high corn content,” notes Nestor Liquor.

6. Rittenhouse Straight Rye Whiskey

Rittenhouse Straight Rye Whiskey is a classic that has been cherished by whiskey enthusiasts for decades. “Produced in Kentucky by the Heaven Hill distillery, Rittenhouse is made from the minimum of 51% rye, but since it’s bottled at 100 proof — and bottled-in-bond, no less — there’s still a defined, pleasant spice to it,” comments Food and Wine.

“The $30 Rittenhouse Rye is tawny-auburn in color. The nose features honey, toffee, and pumpkin spice aromas. The flavors struck me as basic and lacking in depth. The honey and spices come through on the tongue along with woodiness. I liked the medium-long finish, which featured a good balance of sweetness and spice,” reports Insider.

“Born in Pennsylvania and now owned and produced in Kentucky by Heaven Hill, this rye opens with a remarkably floral nose that tiptoes into botanical territory. With full flavor, 50 percent ABV, and a lengthy finish, the palate confirms why this brand (and expression) is beloved among bartenders,” adds Vine Pair.

7. Pikesville Straight Rye Whiskey

Pikesville Straight Rye Whiskey is a highly regarded spirit that has gained a loyal following among whiskey enthusiasts. With its rich history and exceptional quality, Pikesville has become a staple in the world of rye whiskey. “This whiskey is a 6-year-old straight rye combining 51% rye, 39% corn, and 10% malted barley. Originally a Maryland Rye, the mark has been brought back to life by Heaven Hill distilleries,” explains Of Whiskey and Words.

“A 110-proof example of the best rye whiskey from Maryland, Pikesville Straight Rye, has been in production since the 1890s. Though production ceased during prohibition, the makers started providing this aged spirit again when it ended. A spicy and dry rye whiskey, Pikesville Straight Rye showcases flavors of honey and cloves,” adds My Bartender.

“Heaven Hill Distillery keeps the hits coming with Pikesville 6-Year-Old Straight Rye Whiskey, a label with over 120 years of history behind it. Since 1982, this popular spirit has been distilled on-site in Kentucky, and in 2015, it received a qualitative upgrade by way of longer aging and higher proof. Nowadays, this top rye whiskey is stronger, tastier, and more acclaimed than ever before, though still quite affordable,” concludes Man of Many.


Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations. This article may contain affiliate links in which we receive a commission if you make a purchase.

About Jilly Hite

Janelle is a freelance writer from New York. Her writing focuses on parenting, tech, business, interior design, education, and telling people’s inspiring stories. Janelle has written for Mustela and Newton Baby and has bylines in Pregnant Chicken, Syracuse Woman Magazine, the Baldwinsville Messenger, and Family Times Magazine. She holds a master’s degree in literacy from the State University of New York at Oswego.

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  1. Nicola says:

    Is there a reason no Canadian rye whiskies make the “best of” lists I find online? Or are only US ryes even considered when creating these lists? Are the top Canadian ryes just not as good as all of America’s best rye whiskies?

    1. Archie1954 says:

      Actually the problem is that Canadian rye whiskey is in a class of its own far surpassing any distilled in other nations including the US. For instance have you ever tried Crown Royal Northern Harvest?

      1. Archie1954 says:

        Yes I have tried it and it is now my go to. Even the nose is evocative of flowery Summer days.

  2. Michael Kirkby says:

    In my drinking days, now long gone I always preferred the original 40 Barrel Creek: dark, full body and when you removed the cork all you smelled were cherries. Drink it neat or with an ice cube.
    Prior to that it was Wiser’s 18 year old Special DeLuxe or Crown Royal 12 year old Gold Label.