15 Best Rye For Old Fashioned in 2024

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Old fashioned is a classy cocktail, perfectly fitting into any situation and occasion; whether you need a midday decompression, an after-work reward, or an evening indulgence, a glass of Old fashioned will undoubtedly get you there. 

Known to work best with bourbon, it also fits in excellent with rye whiskey. However, since Old fashioned already contains bitters, the problem arises, since rye whiskey is also more on the bitter side. 

Unless you prefer harshly bitter flavors, bitter rye whiskey is not an excellent choice for your Old fashioned. However, well-balanced rye whiskey is an excellent option for your cocktail.

So, what is the best rye for Old fashioned? Let’s find out!

Top 15 Rye for Old Fashioned

Rye whiskey is naturally spicy and bitter, but there is a whole range in which rye whiskeys vary, and not all of them fit into the singular definition.

It is important to know that rye whiskeys, and whiskey in general, are inclined to purpose. This means that some rye whiskeys work best when sipped neat, and others when mixed. 

Also check: Bourbons for Old FashionedWhiskeys for Old Fashioned 

What you mix them with also plays a massive role, as rye whiskey isn’t a unitary category that has solely one purpose. Therefore, although you may think that rye whiskey is harsh, you may be surprised at how gentle it can be when properly used. 

The Old Fashioned requires well-balanced rye whiskeys, edgy but tame. You will love the bitter and spicy side, but you will also like the way it balances with the Old fashioned ingredients. Therefore not any rye whiskey would do for Old fashioned. 

Below, I will list the 15 best rye whiskeys for the Old Fashioned cocktail, so let’s jump right in.

1. Lot 40 Canadian Rye Whiskey 


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The sheer fact that this is Canadian whiskey says a lot about this spirit. It is a high-proof whiskey, meaning that it is strong and robust, with notes of caramel and baking spice, enveloped in smokiness.

It is very smooth and velvety, and it is excellently balanced to fit the Old Fashioned flavor. 

It also exhibits notes of dried fruit as well as orange peel and a general citrus dimension. The best thing about this rye whiskey is that its flavor doesn’t fade when mixed, but it adapts to the ingredients.  

2. Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey


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Kentucky whiskey is known as one of the best in the world. This high rye whiskey is an excellent choice for Old Fashioned because it combines notes of grains but also expressive tones of sugar and sherry. 

This is an incredibly vibrant and colorful rye whiskey that will bring liveliness and amusement to your Old Fashioned cocktail. 

3. Old Forester Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey 


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Old Forester is a world-renowned rye whiskey known for its ruggedness and edge. Assertive from the beginning until the finish, it isn’t a drink everyone would enjoy straight.

Nevertheless, mixed in an Old Fashioned, it acquires an entirely different dimension. It retains its edge while allowing the sweetness and orange zest to penetrate its body. The overall result is a sweet, citrusy, and slightly spicy cocktail. 

4. Whistle Pig Rye Whiskey 


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This whiskey is known for mixing excellently in Old Fashioned. It is a small-batch whiskey with a bold flavor and colorful aroma. It greets the nose with a spicy aroma, orange peels, anise, and overall warmth. 

The palate is rich, sweet, and fresh, with expressive notes of mint as well as vanilla and caramel hints. The finish is long and smooth, leaving a pleasant warm burn and a lingering aftertaste. 

5. High West Double Rye Whiskey 


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Known as very spicy and probably the spiciest one on this list, this is your rye whiskey if you prefer your Old Fashioned on the edgier side.

This is a sharp whiskey with distinct spicy notes mixed with mint and cinnamon, perfectly balancing the honey, wildflower, cinnamon, and spicy tones. 

Add some citrus flavor to this combination, and you have an explosion of flavors your palate will definitely remember. 

6. Knob Creek Straight Whiskey 


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This is a by-the-book high rye whiskey, so if you want a classical Old Fashioned cocktail, this is the whiskey for you.

Timing the tasting notes in the standard order, i.e., vanilla, citrus, grain, and smoke, this rye whiskey is for rye whiskey lovers, as you cannot appreciate it otherwise. 

Even mixed in an Old Fashioned, it still resists the mellowing notes, insisting on its sharpness and intensity. With this whiskey, your Old Fashioned cocktail will be sharp and strong, so if you like that kind of thing, go for it.

If you like the milder side of high rye whiskey, you should go with another option from this list. 

7. Four Roses Single Barrel


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Four Roses are known as the damsel in distress in the whiskey world. Although it is a rye whiskey, Four Roses Single Barrel has managed to successfully retain its signature gentility and fragility.

It has been so designed to fit the needs of those who like whiskey but prefers a milder version. 

In an Old fashioned cocktail mixed with bitters, sugar, water, and an orange wedge, this rye whiskey acts as a buffer between the sweet and bitter flavors.

It juggles the bitter and spicy flavors well while still keeping its gentle and floral notes. It injects the cocktail with bitterness but softness too. 

8. Willett Family Estate Bottled Rye 4 Year


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This is a little mellower rye whiskey, so if you want your Old Fashioned to be more on the gentle side, this is the proper whiskey for you. With sweet honey notes, a slight peppery dimension, and vanilla and caramel notes, this whiskey will add sweetness to your cocktail as well as some edge. 

It is still a rye whiskey, so don’t expect anything too gentle, but this spirit is definitely noticeably gentler than most of the drinks listed here.  

9. Wild Turkey 101 Rye 


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Wild Turkey 101 Rye is an institution in the whiskey world. It is smoky and slightly leathery with notes of vanilla, caramel, and honey, all wrapped up in a long and smooth finish.

Rich and assertive, it has definitely made a name as the “bad boy” in the bourbon department. 

This high rye whiskey is an excellent choice for an Old Fashioned cocktail as it injects the drink with its signature smoky notes and slight honey hews. Add orange freshness to this combination, and you have a ticket to heaven. 

10. Old Overholt Straight Rye Whiskey 


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This is an excellent rye whiskey for beginners, which makes it an excellent choice for an Old fashioned cocktail.

Since it is a good fit for beginners, it is well-balanced, soft, and mildly spicy. It is still a rye whiskey, so don’t expect it to be too gentle, but it is reasonable and careful in its strength and intensity. 

It combines tones of vanilla mixed with mild sweetness and peppery notes. Mixed with the Old fashioned ingredients, it 

11. Jack Daniels Rye 


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Jack Daniels is the Harley-riding gentleman among the whiskeys, but the Jack Daniels rye is the Harley-riding gentleman driving his bike crossing the red light. Fearless and undoubtedly rugged and pungent, this is definitely a potent whiskey. 

With notes of smoke, toasted nuts, a strong grainy dimension, and a uniquely balanced softness, this is the perfect choice for your Old Fashioned cocktail if you like mixing style and brute force. You will get a sweet and sour drink with a velvety finish and an impressive body.  

12. Crown Royal Rye 


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All you need to know about this whiskey is that it is Crown Royal, and you are all set. This is a smooth Canadian whiskey produced by a world-renowned brand that introduced another kind of whiskey to the world. 

On the nose, it exhibits notes of baking spice, wood, and cereal. The palate is rich and buttery, with tones of butterscotch, oak, vanilla, and peppery spices. The finish is smooth and rich with a lingering aftertaste. 

An Old Fashioned with this whiskey is the spiritual embodiment of an old-fashioned, impeccably mannered gentleman. Assertive, strong, and classy. 

13. Sazerac Rye Whiskey 


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Tasting expressively like orange, lemon zest, vanilla, and baking spices, this is a warm bourbon whiskey and an unusually flavorful one. It isn’t every day that you find a bourbon that is that colorful.

Nevertheless, it is still a rye whiskey, so expect some degree of aggressiveness, but since you will be mixing it in an Old Fashioned, the sharpness will mellow into the rest of the cocktail ingredients. 

The sugar, in particular, is essential to make your Old Fashioned cocktail taste heavenly, so make sure you don’t skip it. 

14. Johnnie Walker Rye Cask 


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Coming from one of the titans in the whiskey world, the Johnnie Walker rye whiskey is definitely not for everyone. The Johnnie Walker brand has a signature burnt and leathery dimension engraved in each of its products. 

This whiskey will create a certain ruggedness in the otherwise elegant Old Fashioned cocktail. The recognizable leatheriness and smokiness of this whiskey, along with the grainy and nutty notes, will take your Old Fashioned to a different level, making it the bad boy in its category. 

Nevertheless, this combination takes a trained palate to be well-appreciated, so if you aren’t so keen on Johnnie Walker, you shouldn’t be having your Old Fashioned with this whiskey. However, if you are a fan of the Johnnie Walker expressions, this will be an excellently wrapped experience for you. 

15. Alberta Premium Rye Whiskey 


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Tasting like baking spices and caramel, this rye whiskey is a colorful and playful choice for your Old Fashioned cocktail.

Although high in rye content, this whiskey is surprisingly soft and gentle. The already sweet and zesty drink will become slightly chocolaty and richer thanks to this whiskey. 

It starts with a slight vanilla note, exhibiting caramel, toffee, and citrus flavors in the middle, ending with a spicy and edgy finish. Mixed in an Old Fashioned, the finish of this whiskey mellows down and softens up, so you will be getting an elegant cocktail with a smooth finish. 

What Rye Whiskey Is Good In An Old Fashioned?

Deciding which rye whiskey is good for an Old Fashioned cocktail is a highly subjective matter as not rye whiskeys appeal to all palates. As long as the rye whiskey is of good quality, it will do nicely in an Old Fashioned.

To narrow your options and ease your decision, try some of these rye whiskeys:

  • Whistle Pig Rye Whiskey
  • High West Double Rye Whiskey
  • Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey
  • Wild Turkey 101 Rye
  • Willett Family Estate Bottled Rye 4 Year
  • Sazerac Rye Whiskey
  • Knob Creek Straight Whiskey
  • Crown Royal Rye
  • Johnnie Walker Rye Cask
  • Jack Daniels Rye
  • Alberta Premium Rye Whiskey
  • Old Forester Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey

What Is The Best Spicy Rye Whiskey For Old Fashioned?

Although choosing only one rye whiskey for Old Fashioned is quite difficult, the best option would probably be Old Overholt Straight Rye Whiskey. It is a very flavorful rye whiskey explicitly known as the Old Fashioned rye whiskey. 

Its softness and playfulness make it the perfect option for beginners meaning that it balances the flavors nicely, creating a delicious cocktail. 

What Kind Of Rye Is Used For Distilling?

For a rye whiskey to be rye whiskey, it has to contain at least 51% rye. The rye used for distilling rye whiskey is usually grown by the distiller, as many brands want to ensure they are using the best quality rye possible. Rye whiskey uses malted rye for distillation. 

Is Rye Whiskey Better Than Bourbon? 

Rye whiskey and bourbon are different subcategories of whiskey, and therefore, it is impossible to compare them in terms of which is better.

If we are talking about good-quality rye or bourbon, then any comparison would be meaningless, as they are both excellent in their department. Comparing bad-quality rye whiskey or bourbon is also pointless, as they are both low-class spirits. 

Both rye whiskey and bourbon are sharp drinks and have their audiences. However, it is common for a rye whiskey enthusiast to also like bourbon and vice versa as, generally, they are both harsher and slightly more aggressive than regular whiskey. 

Chad Smith

Meet Chad Smith, a seasoned bartender with a passion for mixology. He's the founder of Tin Roof Drink Community, a blog where he shares expert tips, creative recipes, and fosters a vibrant community of cocktail enthusiasts and aspiring bartenders. Join Chad as he takes you on a flavorful journey through the world of drinks. Cheers!

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