In the winter months, my go-to warming cocktail is a Manhattan.
While many reach for bourbon when making this straightforward cocktail at home, it was created with rye whiskey in mind. I prefer rye in a Manhattan because it isn’t as sweet, and there is an extra layer of spice you get from a predominantly rye mash — versus corn for bourbon.
Rye whiskeys are not commonly distilled in the Southeast, a fact stemming from consumer preference for bourbon. However, it’s a category of whiskey with a lot of character. If you are a fan of complex whiskeys, especially scotch or Irish whiskey, I hope you’ll seek out the U.S.-distilled, small-batch rye whiskies.
Fisher’s Rye Whiskey, distilled by Fainting Goat Spirits in Greensboro, is a straight rye whiskey. Breathing in the whiskey, there is the upfront spiciness of the rye, and it is beautifully complemented by sweet caramel. The nose on this whiskey is long and smooth, especially for a rye whiskey. On the palate, the spice of the rye grain is immediate. However, there is significant complexity here including vanilla and maple notes, which add layers of flavor. This complexity is likely achieved from the length of time that the whiskey spent in the barrel and from sweet corn in the mash.
This rye isn’t too spice forward, and there isn’t any “funkiness” or rough edges. Selfishly, I hope that there are future releases with barrels that age longer than these initial two years. Quite simply, this is a gorgeous small-batch rye. It’s lovely neat and is a treat in a Manhattan.
Classic Rye Manhattan
1 ounce Fisher’s Rye
½ ounce sweet vermouth
3 dashes Angostura bitters
Luxardo Maraschino cocktail cherries
Fill a cocktail shaker with ice cubes. Pour in the rye, vermouth and bitters. Shake until cold, and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with 1-2 cherries.
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