Catch this Rye

Welcome to a new series where we feature craft spirits — talk about what’s new in the industry and, most importantly, taste products too!

This month, we travel to Bostic, N.C., in Rutherford County to feature Defiant Rye Whiskey, distilled and bottled by Blue Ridge Distilling Company.

Defiant Rye was launched last year, and it already has won awards that include a silver medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition and a bronze medal at the North American Bourbon & Whiskey Competition.

Building on its signature product of Defiant Single Malt Whiskey, Blue Ridge ages its Defiant Rye Whiskey using a unique dual-aging technique. Unaged whiskey is placed into white oak barrels to which spiral cuts of white oak are then added. The theory is these spirals add more surface area of wood, imparting a deeper flavor to the spirit, faster.

On to the liquid itself. Let’s get to the tasting!

Breathing in, there is the desired combination on the nose we expect from a rye. The aroma teases the spirit’s spiciness and then balances out with a bit of vanilla and burnt sugar. At first sip, it’s clear this is a 100 percent rye. There’s bold spice here, but what is really impressive is how it carries through into a creamy caramel smoothness.

I highly recommend it if you’re a whiskey drinker who is venturing into rye. The finish on this whiskey is reminiscent of bourbon, so there is a lot here to make bourbon aficionados happy, too.

It’s a wonderful rye whiskey for sipping neat, and it is delicious in a modern take on the Old Fashioned cocktail (see below). Cheers!

Modern Old-Fashioned Cocktail

1½ ounces Defiant Rye Whiskey
1-2 teaspoons Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur*
1 dash angostura bitters
1 dash orange bitters
Garnish: wide orange peel

In an Old Fashioned glass, add the Defiant Rye Whiskey, Luxardo and bitters. Stir. Add ice (I recommend one colossal cube if available). Stir three or four times to chill liquid. For garnish, cut wide peel of an orange and twist it over the drink to release oils. Swirl orange peel around the rim of the glass and then place in cocktail. Enjoy!

*Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur is available in most area ABC stores. Made from sour Marasca cherries, these are delicious cocktail cherries with absolutely no relation to overly sweet florescent maraschino cherries. This simple switch from the traditional Old Fashioned recipe layers more flavor of orange and cherry into the cocktail while removing the need for a sugar cube or simple syrup.


  • Jackie Weidner says:

    Read this article & thought it would be nice to get the ingredients for our anniversary because my husband likes to drink Old Fashioneds.
    I have been having some problems locating the ingredients. So far I only have the orange bitters & the angostura bitters.
    Would someone please let me know where I might be able to purchase the Luxardo cherry liqueur & the Defiant Rye Whiskey? I tried my local ABC store (the one next to Fresh Market on Cary Parkway) with no luck. I would be willing to purchase online if necessary, but haven’t found a good website.

    • Amber Keister says:

      Thanks for the note. The Luxardo liqueur used in the recipe is actually the Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur. (The recipe has been updated to reflect that correction.) It can be found at area ABC stores. The Defiant Rye is a new product, and may not be in all Wake County ABC stores yet. Ask your local ABC store about the availability of Defiant Rye.

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