You might ask, why do we at 12 Bottle Bar prefer Rye to Bourbon or any other Whiskey? Granted, there are myriad choices out there and we’d be happy to get into a serious discussion about another favorite of ours: Irish Whiskey.

But here’s the thing. Unlike Scotch or Irish Whiskeys, American Rye is undeniably American, being one of the country’s earliest spirits after Applejack. It's also far more old-school than Bourbon, no matter how much the Bourbon folks will try to tell you otherwise.

And then, perhaps most important, there’s the flavor. Made from at least 51 percent rye (a grass grown as a grain), Rye Whiskey is drier and less sweet than Bourbon and has a knockout blend of fruit and spice components — often with dashes of vanilla and leather thrown in — that make any Rye-based cocktail more complex. Plus, with its comeback a relatively recent occurrence, we can’t help but root for the underdog.

Photo: Flickr / Krista

So please, feel free to stock your shelves with Irish, Scotch, Tennessee, and Kentucky Whiskeys. Far be it from us to dissuade you from expanding your selection. But if we can choose only one from the Whiskey pantheon, Rye it is and will ever be.

Rye Whiskey in a Nutshell
→ Defining features: Spice and fruit.  
→ Flavor profile: Spicy, fruity, dry, and less sweet than Bourbon. Some Ryes veer toward heavier spicing; others are more subtle.
→ Why we chose it: It’s America’s first Whiskey (go red-white-and-blue!) and it adds more complexity to mixed drinks than Bourbon. Emblematic drinks: Manhattan, Whiskey Sour, Mint Julep (though Southerners will call this treason).

This blog post is an excerpt from The 12 Bottle Bar (Workman Publishing) by David Solmonson & Lesley Jacobs Solmonson Combined with the Cocktail Unveil tasting pack that's all you need to tap into the cocktail world.