Rye whiskey is often confused with Canadian whisky. At one time Canadian whisky was mostly rye whisky, however nowadays, Canadian whisky is blended with neutral spirits. American rye is straight rye whiskey. By law, it is made from mash that contains at least 51% rye, with corn and barley usually making up the rest.

Rye whiskey used to be quite popular in the United States. However, prohibition hit pretty hard. People began drinking Canadian whisky, which accounted for $40 million worth of alcohol being smuggled across the border at the height. People acquired a taste for the smoother Canadian whisky, and people began to associate, mostly incorrectly, rye whiskey with Canadian whisky. Once prohibition was repealed in 1933, most of the former rye whiskey distilleries didn’t start up again, and not many new ones set up shop. Americans were unused to the harsher taste of rye whiskey, lighter spirits such as rum and gin had captured a large percentage of the market share. Those who had a taste for the more potent whiskey opted almost exclusively for Bourbon.

However, rye seems to be making a comeback. The number of commercial brands of rye whiskey seem to be on the rise. Some of the more common brands include:


Cocktails that can be made with rye whiskey:

  • Algonquin
  • Manhattan
  • The ever popular Rye and Coke
  • Saratoga
  • Sazerac
  • Scofflaw
  • He knows now why writers drink as he paces back-and-forth in the neglected back garden. Drink frees the lips. And he talks, mutters to himself as he plods between paving stones in the dark, waving the cheap cigarette back and forth. Before characters, before plot, before themes and symbols and style, come the words. And nothing, nothing, makes the words spill forth quite like drink.

    Flush with new ideas he rushes upstairs to the keyboard, struggling to get keys in lock. Lock opened he rushes to the machine and records his half forgotten words.

    Later he will vomit in the neglected back garden, his fingers forced into the back of his throat. He will light another cigarette and drink a much too strong drink from a ten-year-old yellowing plastic glass. And he will feel a certain kind of numb satisfaction as he sniffs on his fingers the faint scent of recently washed-off puke.

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