VinePair is ringing in the Holiday Cheers with a spotlight on the bottles we’re gifting (and hoping to receive) and a look inside some of our favorite holiday traditions and recipes — from elevated eggnog to all things bubbly. Plus, we’ll be reflecting on the past year in the beverage industry and shifting our focus to the drinks trends we expect to see in 2022.
Rich, spiced, and beloved in Manhattans, Sazeracs, and more, rye whiskey has a distinct flavor profile adored by collectors and cocktail enthusiasts alike. Its versatility on the bar cart and increasing popularity also makes rye an apt gift for anyone interested in spirits.
That’s why VinePair compiled a list of the seven best rye whiskies to give this year. While some of these bottles offer a great introduction to the category, others will impress aficionados with unique flavor profiles and high age statements.
From bottom-shelf gems to hard-to-find unicorns, read on for the ultimate list of rye whiskies to gift this season.
Best Budget Rye
Old Overholt Bonded ($25)
In 2020, Old Overholt began bottling its rye whiskies without chill filtration. The resulting liquid retains a lot more complexity than it did in the past — especially in terms of its texture, which is rich with a caramel core. It’s 100 proof, unfiltered, and 4 years old. And at just $25, it offers an incredible bang for your buck. With its spiced herbal expression, it would make a welcome gift for any host or family member.
Best Splurge Rye
Michter’s 10 Year Single Barrel ($346)
Finding this bottle might just be as hard as affording it, but if you do come across this highly sought-after rye, you’ll find it’s worth the hunt and the spend. Its bold notes of dried berries and savory spices are incredibly balanced, making it a delight to sip. As a gift, it would excite any whiskey connoisseur (but we won’t judge if you’d rather gift it to yourself).
Best Rye for Beginners
Wild Turkey 101 ($25)
A slight sweetness on the palate makes this whiskey ideal for those approaching rye’s signature spices for the first time. It’s a versatile liquid — light enough for sipping neat at a pub alongside a cold beer, but high-proof enough for mixing up in a Manhattan. At just $25, it’s truly a steal — and delicious enough to turn any bourbon lover into a rye convert.
Best Rye for Whiskey Geeks
Barrell Craft Spirits Seagrass Rye Whiskey ($90)
With a wild combination of cask finishes — including Martinique rhum agricole, apricot brandy, and Madeira barrels — this rye somehow performs wonderfully on the nose and palate. The aptly named Barrell rye maintains a classic rye profile while adopting the unique characteristics of each cask it was finished in. For the rye fan who has tried it all, this would be a pleasant surprise.
Best Rye for Cocktail Lovers
Rittenhouse Straight Rye ($27)
This bottled-in-bond Heaven Hill–produced rye is bursting with floral and botanical notes. On the palate, it’s is not lacking in bright, deep flavors and has a lengthy finish. At 50 perfect ABV, it can certainly hold its own in cocktails — from a Boulevardier to a Vieux Carré.
Best Rye for The Boss
Crown Royal Noble Collection Rye Aged 16 Years ($73)
The lengthy age statement (16 years!) on this rye will impress your boss — as might its purple velvet bag. The good news is you can get both, all for under $80. Its notes of flowers, herbs, and candied cherries make this bottle one that will please all palates.
Best Limited-Edition Rye
WhistlePig: The Boss Hog ($500)
The eighth edition of WhislePig’s Boss Hog is as splurge-worthy as previous years’, with notes of tropical fruit, vanilla, and baking spices imparted by the Philippine rum casks it was aged in. At barrel strength, this whiskey has a deep concentration of flavor that translates into a long, satisfying finish. For the collector in your life, this would be an exciting and memorable gift to display proudly on the shelf.