The 11 Best Rye Whiskeys
Under $100

If you haven’t heard of rye whiskey you may be hiding under a rock. Just as bourbon whiskey is seeing a resurgence, so too is rye whiskey.  After fading into obscurity in the late 20th century, rye whiskey has made a comeback, with steadily increasing sales since 2010.  According to Reuters, demand for rye whiskey grew 33% between 2015 and 2016 alone,

Honestly, I can’t say I’m surprised. While I like bourbon, I love rye and it’s been my go to ‘type’ of whiskey for the past few years.

While a few sips of any one of the 11 best rye whiskeys under $100, it’s easy to see why this underrated whiskey is once again turning heads.

Compared to sweet, corn-heavy bourbon, rye offers hearty spice and pepper notes. It’s the difference between eating a piece of rye bread versus a piece of white Wonder Bread.

American rye must contain at least 51% rye, is distilled to no more than 160 U.S. proof (80% abv), and aged in charred, new oak barrels.  Canadian rye whisky meanwhile may not even contain rye at all, so be careful to check the mash bill before you purchase.

Rye whiskey is versatile and can be enjoyed neat, on the rocks, or in a whiskey cocktail like a Sazerac, Whiskey Smash, or Manhattan.

The Best Rye whiskeys Under $100

Rye whiskey is an accessible spirit, and there are multiple great options that are in contention to be one of the best ryes whiskeys under $100. But the good news is that you treat yourself a little, you can find something at or under that price point that is delicious.

The below list is a starting point for anyone who’s had rye whiskey before, and is ready to ‘level up’ a bit.  They all can be enjoyed straight, with a little water, on ice, or in a cocktail (just don’t tell anyone).

When you are looking for a nice glass of rye whiskey, but don’t want to sacrifice taste, start with this list of the 11 Best Ryes Under $100.

Pikesville Rye

Distillery: Heaven Hill
ABV: 55%
Average Price: $50

First on our list of the 11 best rye whiskeys under $100 is Pikesville Rye.  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.

Pikesville rye is now distilled in Louisville, KY.  This 6 year old straight rye has root beer flavor notes with cherry, licorice, sarsaparilla, and molasses.  It received rave reviews from Jim Murray (writer of Whisky Bible) and was named Second Finest Whisky in the World.

High West Rendezvous Rye

Distillery: High West Distillery
ABV: 46%
Average Price: $99

Founded in 2006, High West Distillery is the first legal distillery in Utah since the 1870s. They make their award winning whiskies in a 1600-gallon copper pot still, which can be toured at their Wanship, UT facility. Their Rendezvous Rye makes the list of the 11 best ryes Under $100.

High West sticks to the rye whiskey heritage using an authentic high rye mash bill, with a blend of 5-19 year old rye from MGP and Barton Distillery. They also do not use chill filtration, which according to High West may leave a haze in the glass if the whiskey is chilled – a quick swirl will take care of the harmless fog.

The tasting notes are earthy spices such as fennel and dill, with licorice and cinnamon.  The finish continues with licorice, honey, and oak.

Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel
Special Release Barrel Proof

Distillery: Jack Daniel Distillery
ABV: 56%
Average Price: $65

With its first new mash bill since prohibition, Jack Daniel’s has jumped on the rye bandwagon with this offering featuring 70% rye, 12% malt, and 18% corn.  This special release earns a top place on the 11 best ryes under $100.

Jack Daniel’s launched their rye line in 2012, and this special release uses the same charcoal mellowing method that is used for their Tennessee whiskey.  Because it is a single barrel, the proofs will range from 125-140.  Sipping this rye you will notice notes of smoke, raisin, and caramel, with a signature peppery rye finish.

Wild Turkey Rare Breed Rye

Distillery: Wild Turkey
ABV: 56.1%
Average Price:  $60

Wild Turkey’s rye is unique in that it is barrel proof and non-chilled filtered, which only a few other distilleries are producing.  The combination makes Wild Turkey Rare Breed one of the 11 best ryes under $100.  The rye is a mix of 4, 6 and 8 year aged barrels.

Rare Breed Rye sits at 112.2 proof, giving intensity and a bit of a burn that some may not enjoy.  But if you can get past the initial singe, you will be rewarded with notes of lemon, caramel, and dry spices.

Knob Creek Cask Strength

Distillery: Knob Creek
ABV: 59.8
Average Price: $65

Knob Creek uses adjectives like “powerful” to describe this high proof, cask strength rye whiskey.  This whiskey comes in hot with flavors of caramelized sugar, char, and wet oak.

Despite the proof, this rye is very drinkable, either on its own or as a cocktail.  It is a solid mid-shelf rye, earning it a place on the list of the 11 best ryes under $100.

Barrell Rye – Single Barrel – Canadian Rye Whiskey

Distillery: Barrell
ABV: 66.39%
Average Price: $95

This whiskey begins life in Canada where it is distilled, and then makes its way down to Kentucky to be matured and bottled.  It is single barrel, cask strength, meaning that this whiskey is not diluted or blended.

One of the best ryes under $100, Barrell’s rye is aged 14 years, so it takes most of its flavor notes from the barrel.  Though the proof is quite high, it’s a very smooth tasting whiskey, offering sweet notes of bubble gum along with the traditional herb and rye spice.

Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel Rye

Distillery: Wild Turkey
ABV: 54%
Average Price: $65

This rye is “barely legal”, just making the cut off to be called rye with a mash bill of 51% rye, 37% corn, and 12% malted barley. If you are a fan of high rye bourbons, Russell’s reserve single barrel rye is for you, and it is one of the best ryes under $100.

All that corn lends itself to a sweeter flavor profile, which includes fruits like lemon and cherry, following up with spicy rye and citrus oil.

Bulleit 12 Year

Distillery: Bulleit
ABV: 46%
Average Price: $60

This well-priced offering from Bulleit is aged 12 years, and has a mash bill of 95% rye.  It takes its place easily on a list of 11 best ryes under $100.

Bulleit bourbons are known for a high rye mash bill, so their rye line is a natural progression.  Bulleit 12 year is very smooth and clean, tasting sweet and spicy with notes of vanilla and honey.

Michter’s Toasted Barrel Rye

Distillery: Michter’s
ABV: 55%
Average Price: $85

Michter’s toasted barrel rye is an intensely flavorful whiskey, very different from any of the other 11 best ryes under $100.

The rye looks almost red in the bottle, perhaps a result of the unique finishing process.  Rye barrels are selected, and then transferred to a second barrel, custom toasted to Michter’s specifications.  This extra step gives Michter’s a crème brûlée finish.

WhistlePig 10 Year

Distillery: WhistlePig
ABV: 50%
Average Price: $100

This 100% rye offering from WhistlePig tops the price range of the 11 Best Ryes Under $100, but after aging at least 10 years it is well worth the price tag.  This whiskey, with rye sourced in Alberta and bottled in Vermont, is the most award-winning whiskey in the world.

While tasting this whiskey you will pick out baking spices such as nutmeg, cinnamon, chocolate and vanilla.  The finish is all rye.

Sazerac Straight Rye Whiskey

Distillery: Buffalo Trace
ABV: 45%
Average Price: $35

Back in the 1800s, saloons would disguise themselves as “coffee houses”.  One such coffee house in New Orleans called Sazerac became the birthplace of the Sazerac cocktail, and forerunner for this award winning whiskey.

This is another whiskey on our list of 11 best ryes under $100 with low rye content, coming in at only 51%.  Tasting notes include sweet fruits, vanilla, spice, and citrus.  This whiskey, as the name suggests, makes a wonderful Sazerac cocktail with absinthe and bitters, however it can be enjoyed well on its own.

There you have the list of, in my opinion, the best rye whiskeys under $100.  

How many have you had? Which ones are on your bucket list? If you haven’t tried all of them yet, well, what are you waiting for?

Stay Gold (and cheers).

About Todd Smidt

Todd is a man of simple tastes: traveling, words, whiskey, & dad jokes. He enjoys first-rate banter, long walks along the coast, High West, and Vonnegut. He spends his free time traveling the world, drinking whiskey, and writing about it.

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