I like a fruit forward whiskey. I have found that rye whiskey is often the most fruit forward whiskey, even more so than Bourbon whiskey. When I say “Fruit Forward,” I want a whiskey that comes naturally by its fruit flavor. Most of this flavor comes from the yeast, but not all of it. Some of it comes from the grain and barrel. I like some finished whiskeys that have a fruitiness to them, but many of these whiskeys are too heavily influenced by the finishing process and hide the whiskey flavor. I have three rye whiskeys that have a fruit forward flavor, but retain their rye whiskey herbal, vanilla, and spice flavors making it clear I am drinking a rye whiskey. I am sure there are many other fruit forward rye whiskeys that I have tried, but these three are the ones that have stuck in my mind as really good fruity ryes. I will list them in alphabetical order and not by preference. I would say that they are all equal in preference.

  1. George Washington Rye: This 86 proof, four year old rye whiskey is a great rye whiskey. It is made at the Mount Vernon Distillery using the same methods used by George Washington’s distiller in the 18th century.  Steve Bashore, their distiller, is the first to admit that he often has help making this whiskey from well-known distillers such as Lisa Whicker, and other Master Distillers who come to Mount Vernon to make whiskey on these historically accurate pot stills. It is full of ripe peach fruitiness with a little cinnamon spice, vanilla and oak flavors. It is expensive at about $225.00 for a 375ml bottle, but I find it worth the price. I look at it as a donation to Mount Vernon and I get a great bottle of whiskey in return. It is also hard to get as it is only available in Virginia and Washington D.C. I pick up a bottle or two every time I go to Washington D.C.
  2. Leiper’s Fork Single Barrel Rye: This single barrel, cask strength rye is made by Lee Kennedy at the Leiper’s Fork Distillery in Tennessee. They are very forward with information about their whiskeys and list the mash bill. The barrel entry proof and age on every label of their products. This particular rye whiskey is almost brandy-like with lots of dried fruit flavors such as apricots, prunes and dates, but still has a nice rye grass, vanilla and nutmeg spice in the whiskey. It can be hard to get as it is only distributed in Tennessee and the surrounding states, but you can get it on line if your state is one that allows delivery of alcohol, you can get Leiper’s Fork products. That is not true for this bottle as it is a distillery exclusive bottle.
  3. Sazarac Rye: When I first tasted his rye whiskey from Buffalo Trace, it reminded me of the south with lots of ripe peaches, cinnamon and nutmeg spice, in addition to the rye grass, vanilla and oak flavors that told me I was drinking an excellent rye whiskey. It is a 90 proof rye without an age statement and costs about $30.00 a bottle and is distributed in most states. It is an excellent rye whiskey worth purchasing if you find it on the shelves.

There are many very good rye whiskeys in the market today. Many of them have fruity notes to them, but these three rye whiskeys are all fruit forward whiskeys that I like a lot. I would recommend them to anyone who, like me, loves a good, fruit forward whiskey.

Photos Courtesy of Rosemary Miller