Best Rye For Manhattan 2021: Top Brands Review


Are you looking for the best rye for Manhattan in 2021? We have all the information you need on the top rye for Manhattan Brands. But first, know this: The Manhattan demands respect.

Of all the whiskey-based cocktails, the Manhattan is probably the most classic and timeless. Simple yet stylish, this cocktail has endured the test of time and made its way from stylish 19th century American drinking parlors to foreign lands. In America, this exquisite drink took a back seat to the Martini for several decades, but that’s not to stay it disappeared from the scene entirely. Even while other once-cherished whiskey-based cocktails slowly dwindled from bars and cocktail menus across the country, the Manhattan lived on, relished by those who discerned its quint but very distinctive taste. Today, Manhattan is back in vogue.  While it’s simple enough to make a Manhattan, your core ingredients will determine its authenticity and quality. One of the vital components of a Manhattan is rye whiskey or rye. Here’s a look at all you need to know about the best rye for Manhattans.

Rye is a type of grain used to make many kinds of whiskies. Rye provides a spicy and peppery flavor that is quite noticeable at the back of your palate as you swallow every sip. That offers a dryer style – the type required for cocktails like Old Fashioneds and Manhattans.  There are two types of rye whiskeys – American rye whiskey and Canadian whiskey (that might or might not contain rye). Several other countries make world-class rye whiskies as well. You can recognize all rye whiskies by their labels. Rye whiskies are either made of 100% rye or a mix of rye (at least 51%), wheat, corn, and malted barley. The whiskey is matured for at least two years and contains not more than 80% alcohol.

What's a Manhattan beverage

What’s a Manhattan Beverage?

A Manhattan is a classic, boozy, pre-dinner cocktail that whiskey-lovers have adored for hundreds of years. As with many other cocktails, its origins are unknown, although there are stories about its origins going around. Some say that Dr. Iain Marshall invented it for a specific party held by Lady Randolph Churchill, mother of Winston Churchill, in a Manhattan Club in New York. Others say a man who went by the name, Black, who had a drinking house on Broadway, invented it in the 1880s. None of those claims are conclusive, but that adds to the drink’s appeal.

The Manhattan is a cocktail made of rye whiskey, sweet vermouth, and bitters. However, traditionally, Manhattans are made with rye whiskey for its distinct spicy notes and savory taste. Sometimes bourbon whiskey is used.

There are a couple of variants of the Manhattan cocktail. One of the earliest detailed recipes printed in O.H. Byron’s “The Modern Bartenders’ Guide” made use of French vermouth, whiskey, Angostura bitters, and gum syrup. Over the years, the recipe has undergone several changes, but the core ingredients remain the same – 2 parts whiskey, 1-part sweet vermouth, and a dash of bitters.  Another critical thing to remember about the Manhattan – it’s never shaken – always stirred. Why? Stirring ensures a delicate weighty, silky texture of the spirit and wine and gorgeous amber color.

Read also: Best Whiskey For The Money Review 2021

Top Rated Best Rye Whiskey For Manhattan 2021

Top Rated Rye Whiskey For Manhattan

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Knob Creek Straight Rye is aged in deeply charred barrels and bottled at 100 proof to ensure you get full flavor with every sip. It is made with the highest quality rye (a bit over the minimum 51%), which gives it a uniquely smooth taste. As well as the hard-to-miss spiciness of rye, you will notice the delicate undertones of vanilla and oak.

Knob Creek Straight Rye is a significantly underestimated whiskey that provides great whiskey experience value. As well as being readily available, it is also affordably priced. Knob Creek Straight Rye is a bold and yet very palatable rye whiskey, making it a definite add to our list of best ryes for Manhattans 2021.


If you are looking for a bold and full-flavored whiskey with lively, palate-cleansing properties, this is it. The Rittenhouse Straight Rye Whisky Bottled-in-Bond by Heaven Hill distillery is a 100-proof rye whiskey with earthy and oaky, sugary, and citrusy flavors that play on the palate. There are two characteristic spices – a vegetable spice and a woody spice – all perfect for a multi-layered Manhattan.

Rittenhouse Straight Rye Whisky is lovely tasting rye. It might not be as smooth as Irish whiskey, but it still has its charm. There is a dash of heat and a distinct spicy flavor that is hard to miss, but it is not too spicy to handle.


The WhistlePig is a Canadian rye whiskey first aged in new American oak and then finished in bourbon barrels. It is available as a 10-year-old whiskey bottled at 100 proof. A 100% rye whiskey, this one boasts of being both distinctive and robust. You would expect this whiskey to be exceptionally aggressive and dry, but it is surprisingly velvety and smooth.

Spread over 500 acres of beautiful hills, WhistlePig Farm lies in Vermont. Today, WhistlePig Rye Whiskey is known to be the USA’s premier aged rye whiskey. It is also one of the most awarded Rye Whiskeys globally – winning even the ‘Best in Show Whiskey’ title at the most prestigious San Francisco World Spirits Competition in 2017.

As for its agreeability in Manhattans, WhistlePig Straight Rye is one of the best ryes. It is delicate and yet one of the more complex rye whiskies available in the market today. What makes it especially good for Manhattans is its dry heat that also reminds you of its relatively high ABV. All in all, WhistlePig is a fantastic brand of straight rye whiskey that smells more like scotch.

See also: Best Bourbon For Manhattan 2021


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Established in 1810, Old Overholt is known to be one of the country’s oldest whiskey brands and presents one of the rare rye whiskeys that continues to be in existence post the pre-prohibition era. The company has stood the test of time and survived wars and prohibitions.

If you are looking for the best ryes for Manhattans under $25, you will be pleased with this straight rye whiskey aged 3 years and 80 proof. With a pretty recent recipe twist that gains it six more proof points and minus the chill-filter, you now have a traditional and vintage liquor that retains more of its complexity.


Angel’s Envy Finished Rye spends as long as 18 months finishing in hand-selected Caribbean rum barrels. The result – immensely complex, rich, reddish amber whiskey that gives your taste buds a treat of raw, earthy, and spicy rye and a mellow sweetness from the rum, making it both sweet and dry. The malty, citrusy, spicy, and vanilla notes give your olfactory system a treat. At 100 proof, this is still a smooth and drinkable whiskey.


Ridiculously popular and a great whiskey, the George Dickel Rye is made of 95% rye and 5% malted barley and undergoes a unique Dickel charcoal filtering process. It has an inviting nose made up of hints of marshmallow, fallen leaves, lightly charred wood, marshmallow, and even a hint of grilled peaches. With this whiskey, you can expect a sharp flood of creamy spiced rye on your taste buds, followed by a gentler and subtler taste of marshmallow and sweet vanilla. Its smooth finish and spicy flavor make it perfect for classic cocktails and is on our list of ‘best ryes for Manhattans.’

According to the manufacturers, George Dickel Rye whiskeys are chilled before the filtration process. That mellows the whiskey, and removes the harsh flavors. So, if you are looking for a gentler rye whiskey, the George Dickel Rye is your best bet.


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A very respectable, middle-of-the-road rye, the Bulleit Rye is an exceptionally smooth whiskey with a hint of honey, vanilla, cherries, and spice, and subtler notes of tobacco and leather. It is made of 95% rye and 5% malted barley. Your taste buds are first hit with the somewhat medium-peppery spices followed by a pleasant fruity and citrusy after taste. This MGP 95/5 mash bill is one of the best ryes for Manhattan.

Bulleit Rye is expensive, but it is definitely worth the money you pay for it. Although not too complicated, it adds an exciting taste to cocktails and is perfect to be drunk straight and used as a mixer.


Redemption Rye makes our list of best rye for Manhattans because this particular whiskey is especially carefully crafted to bring back the classic American Rye cocktails. With 95% rye content, this whiskey can be enjoyed neat, on the rocks, and even serves as an excellent base for all types of modern and classic cocktails. The spicy flavor is balanced with citrusy and floral notes. It is 92 proof and aged for an average of 2.5 years in charred oak barrels.

Redemption Rye is more appealing because it is from MGP Distillery, which has caught on and treasured over the last few years.


Made from select grain, Michter’s US*1 Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey is bold, crisp, and has an exceptionally remarkable finish and flavor. It is light and does not lack flavor, and it has a peppery/spicy finish that is just right. It has balanced savory and marmalade notes and is ideally enjoyed neat or in a cocktail – like a Manhattan. Every grain that goes into making this whiskey is sheared to ensure extraction of maximum flavor. Every bottle of the Michter’s US*1 Kentucky Straight Rye comes from a single barrel, is 84.8 proof, with an ABV of 42.4%. The tasting notes include citrus and peppery notes and the subtle taste of butterscotch and oak.

Michter’s US*1 Kentucky Straight Rye whiskey is not expensive when you consider several other inferior quality rye whiskeys are equally priced or more expensive.

Related: 7 Single Barrel Ryes You Need to Try


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If you like the combination of honey and spice, you will love the Sazerac Rye. Sazerac Rye is mature, straight rye that boasts 51% rye that gives it a very mellow spiciness and dry sweetness that plays on your tongue. Tasting notes include leather molasses, oak, and all-spice, well as minty, cinnamon, eucalyptus, vanilla, and a hint of pepper that finally ends in a warm and smooth finish. That is a genuinely excellent, well-balanced whiskey –  another ideal rye for a Manhattan.

Sazerac rye is aged for four to six years. Sazerac 18 is one of the best rye whiskeys you can lay your hands on. However, it is released just once a year with a limited supply making it extremely difficult to find.

Read more: Best Bitters For Old Fashioned Review 2021

The Dos and Don't of Creating a Manhattan

The Dos and Don’t of Making a Manhattan

DO: Have the Proper tools.

You require more than just the right liquor to create the perfect cocktail. The tools needed to create a Manhattan are:

  • Jigger to measure the liquor
  • Mixing glass to combine all the ingredients
  • Bar spoon to stir your Manhattan
  • Drink strainer to strain all the ingredients
  • Chilled cocktail glass.

DON’T: Overthink your own whiskey choice

Traditionally, rye whiskey is used in a Manhattan. However, there is a wide variety of rye whiskeys available, and each has its distinct characteristics. If you have a rye whiskey that you like, you can use it to make your Manhattan – even if it’s not the best rye for Manhattan. If you prefer a sweeter version, you can substitute rye with bourbon.

DO: Invest in Fantastic stuff.

The quality of your Manhattan will depend on the quality of the ingredients you use. While you don’t have to invest in the highest quality ingredients, we suggest you stay away from bottom shelf liquors and cheaper ingredients to improve the taste of your Manhattans.

DON’T: Purchase the Incorrect vermouth

The right vermouth for Classic Manhattans is sweet (also known as red vermouth). This vermouth is sweeter and has a deeper color than dry vermouth. Perfect Manhattans call for an equal split of sweet and dry vermouth.

The ratio of vermouth is as vital as the right vermouth. If you reverse the whiskey-to-vermouth ratio, you get a Reverse Manhattan.

DO: Choose Angostura bitters

Adding bitters to your Manhattan does not mean that your cocktail will have a strong bitter taste. Bitters are designed to add complexity to cocktails while giving them a depth of flavor. Angostura is the best bitters for a classic Manhattan. Its iconic flavor is derived from over 40 types of herbs and botanicals, and it has woody and spicy notes that complement the best ryes for Manhattans.

DON’T: Stick to the ratio

The ratio of the Manhattan’s ingredients has fluctuated over time and often differs from one person to another. The good news is you don’t have to stick to a ratio – there are plenty of variations. The ratio can vary depending on the strength and the flavor of the whiskey you use. For example, some people prefer to add more vermouth than specified for a less boozy tipple. You could even try increasing or decreasing the bitters.

DON’T: Shake the cocktail

We have said it before, and we will say it again: The Manhattan is never to be shaken – just stirred. Shaking causes the drink to develop a foam across the top and become cloudy. By stirring the Manhattan, you preserve the drink’s transparency – a must for a better visual and gastronomic experience.

DO: Garnish the way You Prefer

While Manhattans today are garnished with a maraschino cherry, they were decorated with a squeeze of lemon rind back in the 1800s. People used olives to embellish Manhattans back in the early 1900s. So, don’t be afraid to trim your Manhattans with whatever works for you.

DON’T: Use a processed maraschino cherry

You can garnish your Manhattans with your choice of garnishes, but we suggest you steer clear of processed maraschino cherries. Processed cherries contain chemicals like corn syrup and food coloring that could affect the quality of your otherwise superbly-crafted cocktail.

DON’T: Gulp down your Manhattan

The Manhattan is a sophisticated, stylish, and classic cocktail meant to be sipped and enjoyed at leisure. Manhattans are not to be drunk indiscriminately. Instead, please treat them with the respect they deserve.

DO: Make it your very own

The Manhattan has been around for several hundreds of years, and while its core ingredients have remained the same, bartenders across the world have played around with this classic cocktail to suit various palates. Some like it dry, while some prefer a sweeter version. Some people want to forego the garnish, while others prefer to go easy on bitters. The bottom line – to each his own. Find out what works best for your taste buds and make your Manhattan a personalized version of this very traditional and classic cocktail.