All Rise for Rye Whiskey!
By Mary Rose DeMarco, Director of Marketing Communications
The verdict is in. Rye whiskey is experiencing a bold comeback to which I say: Please don’t leave us again!
An American original with roots back to George Washington who distilled it in his native Virginia, rye enjoyed widespread popularity in the United States right up through the mid-20th century.
But in the 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s, American liquor tastes turned to vodka, gin and the three-martini lunch. Brown spirits faded from the scene. In more recent days, wine and craft beers each saw their popularity rise as well when consumers sought out new and unique takes on traditional alcoholic drinks.
That all began to change around the mid-2000s, however, as a new generation of imbibers took their place at bar stools ordering up old-school cocktails like the Manhattan, and once again introduced people to the taste and versatility of rye. Then the popularity of celebrity bartenders and hot spots in major metro areas serving cocktails that included rye jump-started rye’s revival.
Since 2009, rye whiskey volumes in the U.S have increased by 778% from 88,000 cases to almost 775,000 cases in 2016, according to the Distilled Spirits Council. And according to the Council, and yours truly, rye growth shows no sign of a slow turn.
We saw the rye revolution coming when we set out to create Cask & Crew Rye Whiskey Blend, a unique blend of rye and whiskey. The percentage of rye in our blend was taste tested many times before we landed on an almost half-to-half ratio. It can be intimidating sitting in a room with whiskey connoisseurs and make your mark. But I held my own and even scored some cool points.
Both the straight and flavored Cask & Crew whiskeys are a 51% – 49% blend of fine three-year-old Canadian rye and classic barrel aged American corn whiskey respectively.
So, what’s the best rye whiskey? We’ll throw our hat in the ring. Cask & Crew Rye Whiskey Blend won a double gold medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. Double Gold is not only SFWSC’s highest honor, it’s awarded to only the few entries that receive a Gold rating from all members of the judging panel. There were many of us doing our happy dance that day!
Maybe after reading this you’re craving a rye whiskey cocktail? We’ve got you covered. Check out the recipe for our Rye Me A River cocktail created with rye in mind.
This recipe features our core rye whiskey blend, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention our two flavored whiskeys – Ginger Spice and Walnut Toffee – developed specifically for a target audience the crew likes to call “whiskey wannabes.” Hey, it’s these wannabes who are helping fuel whiskey’s growth in the U.S. – so way to go wannabes.
In fact, we conducted hundreds of product tastings this year and my favorite moment was watching a hesitant non-whiskey consumer sip Cask & Crew and to their surprise and delight exclaim “I really like whiskey!”
To that I say: Me, too!