Hot on the heels of the second annual ‘New York Rye Week’ (held October 15-21, 2018), we took a moment to look at one of the top distillers of this beautifully classic grain whiskey…
For hundreds of years, rye enjoyed a prominent place in New York agriculture, used to create flour, beer, and rye whiskey, thriving in New York’s glacial soil and northern climate and hardy enough to survive the cold New York winter.
Although in recent decades the popularity of Rye Whiskey has been replaced by a shift in consumer taste toward Bourbon, we have recently started to see an upward spike in trends for more complex and aromatic whiskey, with rye enjoying once again its well earned place in the spotlight, driven in part by the recent interest in Nordic baking and making.
A classic whiskey that is as versatile a cocktail ingredient as it is delicious damn dram in its own right, rye is one of our favourite spirits to experiment with, but also to enjoy as a comforting go-to when looking for a no frills deliciously straight up drink on the rocks. From the timeless Manhattan to a classy Sazerac, we’ve enjoyed it served all over the world in a variety of forms, but Ragtime Rye really changed the game for us.
Made from a mash bill of 72% rye, 16% corn and 12% malted barley with the primary grains, rye and corn, being derived from New York State, Ragtime Rye is the brainchild of The New York Distilling Company, based in Brooklyn.
The distillery’s aim is to “create products and brands of exceeding quality and originality while building on an American cocktail heritage set in its second Golden Age” (one hell of an aim in our book!). With a commitment to use the most sustainably produced ingredients in all its spirits, The New York Distilling Company also features grains grown in New York State whenever possible including the rye used to create Ragtime. This rye is 100% non-GMO and primarily organic, specifically grown for New York Distilling Company by Pedersen Family Farms in the Central Finger Lakes region of upstate New York.
With a deeply complex flavour profile which boasts nuances of caramel, earthy tobacco and spices including clove, Ragtime Rye is perfect served neat or made into a fruity old fashioned (with some killer hints of white pepper and fruit notes on the palate). It’s bottled at 90.4 proof which makes it a deliciously sippable quaff that satisfies to the very last drop.
Alongside Ragtime Rye, The New York Distilling Company has a number of classically Golden Age spirits on it’s roster including Mister Katz Rock & Rye (named after their eponymous master blender*), Dorothy Parker American Gin, Perry Tot’s Navy Strength Gin, Chief Gowanas New Netherland Gin, and an Applejack Barrel finished version of their classic Ragtime. Providing a brief overview of the range, we’ve compiled a short explanation of each below:
MISTER KATZ’S ROCK & RYE
This classic variant of Rye marries the Distilling Company’s youthful rye whiskey and rock candy sugar with sour cherries, cinnamon, and a wisp of citrus that could be enjoyed on its own or in a cocktail.
DOROTHY PARKER AMERICAN GIN
Named after the famous poet, Dorothy Parker is as unconventionally brilliant as was the frequent member of the Algonquin Round Table. New York Distilling Company seamlessly blurs the lines between tradition and innovation, fusing botanicals of juniper elderberries, citrus, hibiscus, with spices of cinnamon. Bottled at 44% and extremely palatable, this spirit blends with vermouth, grapefruit juice, and even Ramazzotti.
Perry’s Tot is bolstered on the foundation of tenacity and dexterity. Named after Matthew Calbraith Perry, Commandment of the Brooklyn Navy Yard in the nineteenth century, this spirit is as domineering as the general himself. At 57% ABV, Perry’s Tot channels the grit of nineteenth century Brooklyn. This redolent pairs well with Lillet Blanc, Vermouth, and cinnamon. The robust flavors and coupled with the delicate spices strike the perfect balance.
Distilled in the old Dutch colony of Brooklyn from grains grown in New York State, Chief Gowanus is based on an early American recipe for making a version of “Holland gin” out of American rye whiskey. The double-distilled rye whiskey, is placed back in the traditional pot still with juniper berries and a handful of Cluster hops (the variety likely to have been in use in 1809, from whence the recipe originates) and is run through a third time. After three months in an oak barrel to smooth it out a bit the end result is that of a full body and a less juniper-forward flavor than regular gin- Indicative of the Dutch style.
APPLEJACK BARREL FINISHED RAGTIME RYE WHISKEY
In tandem with the nascent trend of secondary barrel finished American whiskey, New York Distilling Company introduces Applejack Barrel Finished Ragtime Rye Whiskey, a designated Empire Rye Whiskey. This limited-edition expression is produced from the distillery’s own Ragtime Rye Whiskey aged approximately five months in barrels previously used for aging Applejack Whiskey. The result is a unique combination of legendary New York State spirits: a rich, mature, bold rye flavor with notes of cherry and vanilla, a round mouth feel and and gentle aroma and flavor of bright apple.
*One of the nation’s leading authorities on distilled spirits and cocktails, Allen Katz is also the Director of the Spirits Education and Mixology for Southern Wine and Spirits of New York and is at the forefront of industry training around the country, as well as hosting public and professional seminars and serving on the Board of Directors for the New Orleans Culinary and Culture Preservation Society and The Manhattan Cocktail Classic.