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What is Kentucky Rye?

What is Kentucky Rye?

Kentucky style rye whiskey typically has a mashbill of close to the 51% Rye required to achieve American rye designation.

Much of the Maryland and Pennsylvania rye industry moved to Kentucky when prohibition closed the northern distilleries and some Kentucky distilleries were legally permitted to continue to make whiskey for ‘medicinal purposes’. The popular and respected Maryland and Pennsylvania rye brands were sold to Kentucky distilleries, meanwhile during the 13 years of prohibition many Maryland and Pennsylvania distilleries were sold off as their urban land was valuable. In the hands of the Kentucky distillers, the popularity of bourbon and the cheaper price of corn over rye influenced a shift in mashbill to ‘barely legal’ 51% rye mash bill and the term ‘Kentucky style Rye’.

Rye whiskey is a distilled spirit that meets the following criteria:

  • Produced in the United States
  • Made from a grain mixture that is at least 51% Rye 
  • Aged in new, charred oak barrels
  • Distilled to no more than 160 proof 80% ABV
  • Entered into the barrel for aging at no more than 125 proof 62.5% ABV
  • Bottled at more than 80 proof / 40% ABV
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