The 11 Best Rye Whiskeys
Under $50

“There is no bad whiskey. There are only some whiskeys that aren’t as good as others.”
-Raymon Chandler

If you’ve only encountered rye whiskey in passing, you may still be familiar with two common descriptions of the spirit: that it’s bourbon’s spicier sibling, and that it’s crucial in the creation of a handful of classic whiskey cocktails.

While these statements ring true, they also benefit from further elaboration.

If you are just dipping your toe into the large and varied world of rye, the choices can seem endless.  There are so many options at a range of price points, and it’s easy to over pay for a rye whiskey when you’re just starting out (bottles of Redemption 18 year may go for over $800) Unlike bourbon, you can get some high quality rye whiskey at a decent price.

Buying a few different ryes will give you the opportunity to sample from several distilleries without breaking the bank.  You will also have some solid rye whiskies to try out in a new cocktail.

The inclusion of rye (the grain) in any mash bill indeed lends a spicy kick, but that characteristic can take on many forms, from savory spice, like caraway and black pepper, to sweet baking spices, such as cinnamon and cloves

Another distinguishing factor that defines many rye whiskeys is fresh, herbal notes — think dill and mint. Though not always present, these notes complement the grain’s signature spice, but it would be a stretch to define them as spicy by nature.

On the cocktail front, it’s true that rye is vital for any properly made Manhattan or Sazerac, and competently takes the place of bourbon in an Old Fashioned or Boulevardier. But were it not for the revival of those cocktails, there’s a high chance that rye would have continued down its path of dwindling popularity to reach near extinction by this point.

Rye is essential in these drinks but the drinks themselves are just as important in the whiskey’s modern history.

So rye’s is a complicated tale, and the waters are only muddied further by another point that should be raised: Given the recency of this style’s resurgence in popularity, many distilleries have been forced to source from or contract distill their rye at external facilities — the most notable of which is Indiana’s MGP.

Now this is also true in the bourbon industry, but given that even some of the major brands continue to do so with their rye expressions, it’s worth reiterating.

So, too, is the simple fact that there’s nothing inherently wrong with this practice, especially as those buying and bottling this juice are increasingly transparent about doing so.



The Best Rye whiskeys Under $50

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 $50. But the good news is that you can still find something at or under that price point that is still delicious.

The below list is a starting point for anyone interested in rye whiskey, who doesn’t want to break the bank.  They all can be enjoyed straight, with a little water, on ice, or in a cocktail.

When you are looking for a bargain, but don’t want to sacrifice taste, start with this list of the 11 Best Ryes Under $50.

Old Forester Rye

Distillery: Old Forester (Brown Forman) 
ABV: 50%
Average Price: $25

Rye Info:

Old Forester is best known for their bourbon, but they have produced one of the 11 best ryes under $50 at a very reasonable price point.  This rye is 100 proof, and has a mash bill of 65% rye, 20% malted barley, and 15% corn.

Unlike most rye, this whiskey has a high percentage of malted barley, which Old Forester claims reduces the need for artificial enzymes during the fermentation process.  This addition gives a baked bread flavor that comes through the rye, as well as some floral notes that balance against the spice of the rye.  Old Forester’s award winning rye can be used to mix a cocktail, but surprisingly at $25 a bottle it makes an excellent rye for sipping as well.

George Dickel Rye

Distillery: MGP Distillery
ABV:
45%
Average Price: $25


Rye Info:

For $25, you cannot go wrong with the George Dickel Rye.  This handcrafted whiskey is 95% rye, distilled by MGP, and chilled and filtered through charcoal made of sugar maple wood.

This gives the rye a taste of vanilla and marshmallow, with just enough spice.  This rye is definitely one of the 11 best ryes under $50.

Bulleit Rye

Distillery: Bulleit
ABV: 45%
Average Price: $35

Rye Info:

The distillers at Bulleit know how to make a great whiskey.  This rye is no exception, winning awards and accolades with this rye aged 4+ years.  They use high rye content in all of their whiskies, and this spirit has a traditional mash bill of 95% rye.

At first sip, this rye is spicy, but it calms down into a sweet and smokey finish with notes of cherry, orange zest, and cinnamon.  Bulleit is a solid option as one of the best ryes under $50, whether you want to sip it neat on the rocks, or mix it into your favorite cocktail.

 

Oak and Eden Rye & Spire

Distillery: Sanctified Spirits
ABV:
45%
Average Price: $45

Rye Info:

This is another whiskey that goes all the way to 95% rye, but they finish their whiskey in an unusual way.  The rye is first aged in charred barrels, but after bottling they add a spire of charred American Oak.

This 5” long spiral cut wood has a large surface area, and the company claims this addition adds a spicy combination of vanilla, coconut, and honey.  The tasting notes are surprisingly spot on, with lots of toasted marshmallow and oak coming through.  This is an interesting rye to have on your shelf, and definitely one of the 11 best rye whiskeys under $50.

1776 Straight Rye Whiskey – 100 Proof Rye

Distillery: James E. Pepper & Co
ABV:
50%
Average Price: $25

Rye Info:

This whiskey is severely underpriced, even for a bottom shelf rye, as long as you can take the heat from the 100 proof.  It is non-chill filtered, which gives additional body and flavor.

The tasting notes on this rye are vanilla, floral spices, and citrus, followed by dark chocolate and cinnamon.

Old Overholt Straight Rye

Distillery: Old Overholt
ABV: 40%
Average Price: $28

Rye Info:

At 3 years old and 80 proof, this rye whiskey developed from the oldest brand of whiskey is true to its heritage.  Once sold as a medicinal whiskey, it makes the list as one of the 11 best rye whiskeys under $50 because of its sweet and spicy flavor.

As you sip you will find notes of cinnamon, leather, and vanilla.

Woodford Reserve Rye

Distillery: Woodford Reserve Distillery
ABV:
45.2%
Average Price: $35

Rye Info:

This offering from Woodford Reserve is one of the 11 best rye whiskeys under $50, and even won Gold at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition in 2020.  This is what’s known as a Maryland style rye, with only 53% rye, and 33% corn.  This amount of corn gives the whiskey an incredible sweetness, which balances the smoky spice.

The flavor notes are sweet and warm, with baking spices and caramel, followed up by some minty rye and charred oak.

Woody Creek Colorado Rye

Distillery: Woody Creek Distillers
ABV: 45%
Average Price: $44

Rye Info:

Woody Creek is best known for their vodka, and their grain-to-bottle distilling practice.  Even their brewing waste gets sent back to the field for compost.  This true “craft” rye is worthy of the list of 11 best rye whiskeys under $50.

This is a 100% rye whiskey is smooth, tasting of fruits and nuts, with a nutty aroma that finishes like a loaf of rye bread.

Corsair Ryemageddon

Distillery: Corsair Artisan Distillery
ABV: 46%
Average Price: $49

Rye Info: 

This whiskey is 100% rye, but unusual in that they use 20% chocolate rye.  These chocolate rye grains are the reason Corsair Ryemageddon tops the list of 11 best ryes under $50.

The taste comes across as toasted cinnamon, with a background note of chocolate.  It’s a smooth, mild rye, perfect for sipping.

Rittenhouse Rye (Bottled In Bond)

Distillery: Heaven Hill
ABV: 50%
Average Price: $25

Rye Info:

This whiskey is exceptionally affordable for being a 4 year old, bottled in bond rye whisky.  It’s a must have for your bar, and one of the 11 best rye whiskeys under $50.

The palate is fruity, with tastes of cocoa, oranges and baking spices.  If you’re looking for a rye from Heaven Hill on the cheaper side, but still great quality, this whiskey is for you.

Minor Case Rye

Distillery: Limestone Branch
ABV: 45%
Average Price: $47

Rye Info:

This rye is barely legal, sitting at 51% rye, and 45% corn.  It’s a great transition if you’ve been enjoying bourbon, and want to give rye whiskey a try.

This rye makes the list of 11 best rye whiskeys under $50 for a reason.  About 40% of the flavor in whiskey comes from the oak barrels, so when a whiskey is finished in a cream sherry cask like Minor Case Rye, the flavor picks up Christmas spices like cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg.

If you’ve never tried a sherry cask finished rye before, start with this one.

There you have the list of, in my opinion, the best rye whiskeys under $50.  

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

Todd

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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