If Dry January was just not for you, or you’ve simply had enough temperance for one month take a look into the fascinating world of rye whisky.
Referred to as Bourbon’s ‘older brother’ – Rye is a spirit rich in both flavour and history first produced by the colonists in the first permanent British settlements in Virginia. Scott Harris, owner of celebrated rye distillery Catoctin Creek tells us more.
“When colonists came to America, the first permanent British settlement was Jamestown, Virginia in 1607. Immediately, during that time, colonists started making whisky from local grain, most famously (but not exclusively) by George Thorpe.
The style of distillation at this time was necessarily small scale… small home-sized pot stills using local grain and family recipes. Today, we would call this “craft” but back then, it was just one of the necessary items on the family homestead or farm, so rye is theoriginal craft spirit dating back to 1607.
Before the revolutionary war, the most common spirit consumed in the colonies was RUM. This was due to the high levels of trade between Great Britain, the Caribbean, and the colonies. (Sadly, enslaved people being part of this trade along with rum.) Everyone drank rum, and lots of it. But when the colonies rebelled against Great Britain, and won the revolution, King George III cut off his supply of sugar and rum from the Caribbean. No more rum. This led to a huge, and industrial-sized growth in the next ten years of rye whiskey. In places like Maryland and Pennsylvania, rye whiskey became big factory productions, and became the dominant spirit of the mid-Atlantic region, including Virginia.”
Rye is also the key to making the best classic whisky cocktails such as the Manhattan as well as being the origin of the name of the Old Fashioned (old fashioned whisky cocktail). Here are two cocktails you can try, one using Virginia Rye (from Catoctin Creek) and one using Baltimore Rye (from Sagamore Spirit).
Catoctin Creek’s Recommended January Cocktail: Johnny’s Snow Day Punch
- 45ml Catoctin Creek Distiller’s Edition 92 Proof Roundstone Rye
- 90ml Apple Cider
- 15ml Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice
- 1 tbsp Cranberry Maple Syrup*
- 2 dashes Black Walnut Bitters
- 2 dashes Cranberry Bitters
- Half Moon slice of apple & lemon, 3 fresh cranberries and a candied ginger slice
Instructions:Build all ingredients except ginger beer in a cocktail shaker, shake and strain over ice then top with ginger beer, garnish & serve.
Serve in a Collins Glass or Short Highball with a straw.
Top with Ginger Beer of choice.
Garnish with Fresh Apples, Cranberries, Lemons and Ginger Slices.
Sagamore Spirit’s Recommended Cocktail: Sagamore Winter Mule
- 45 ml Sagamore Spirit Signature Rye Whiskey
- 30ml Cranberry Juice
- 10ml Lemon Juice
- 10 ml Organic Maple Syrup
- 60 ml Ginger Beer
- Sage Leaf, Optional
Fill a Collins glass with ice.
Add Sagamore Spirit Signature Rye Whiskey, cranberry juice, lemon juice and maple syrup.
Top with ginger beer and give a slight stir to combine.
Garnish with a sage leaf.