October 12-20th marks the 3rd Annual Celebration of New York Rye Week and we are here to tell you where to celebrate the many forms of rye, from grain to glass, all over the city.
In 2015, a new style of whiskey was born – Empire Rye. After a hardy discussion at the 2015 Distillers Conference in Denver, a group of six leading New York distillers banded together to create this new style, to emphasize the distinctions of New York agriculture, and to honor the historical tradition of rye whiskey in cocktail culture, which was a mainstay before Prohibition.
“We had this long discussion about what makes New York different, or what could make it different. And we started to focus on rye whiskey, as a category distinct from bourbon, small, in the overall scheme of things, small, but growing,” says Tom Potter, owner of New York Distilling Company, and co-founder of Brooklyn Brewery.
So the Empire Rye Whiskey Association was born, and they agreed on certain Standards of Identity. Some (but not all) of the key standards include:
-Product that conforms to the New York Farm Distiller (Class D) requirement that 75% of the mash bill be New York grain; in this instance that 75% MUST be New York State-grown rye grain
-Product distilled to no more than 160 proof
-Product aged for a minimum of two years in charred, new oak barrels at no more than 115 proof at time of entry.
-Product must be mashed, fermented, distilled, barreled and aged at a single New York State distillery.
The Founders of Empire Rye include Black Button Distilling, Coppersea Distilling, Finger Lakes Distilling, Kings County Distillery, New York Distilling, and Tuthilltown Spirits.
Rye Week, which began in 2017, and was planned around the introduction of the Empire Rye style, is also a festival that is part of a larger revival of regional grain in the Northeast.
“It seemed to us that there was a curiosity and appetite to put a little light on rye,” adds Tom.
Among the folks at Grow NYC, who promote NY grains at Greenmarkets, it seemed the tide was turning in the culinary world. Chefs and bakers across the state were searching for grains with more character, and more sustainable ties to the farmer.
“We are an agricultural product,” says Tom. “It doesn’t just appear. We have connections with our farmers. The cycle of harvesting and planting? It’s part of the distilling life cycle.”
Thanks to the resurgence of local rye, we all can enjoy hearty, Nordic-style sourdough loaves, prickly carbonated beers, or a spice-forward base spirit for our cocktails. There’s always an opportunity to drink and eat local, but next week, make sure it’s a glass of Empire Rye.
Here are just a handful of the many events happening next week:
Friday 10/11 Empire Ryes Whiskies 2019 10AM-4PM
Get your weekend kicked off right, and sample this year’s new expressions of Empire Whiskey from multiple distilleries. Hosted at one of the locations where the expansive celebration of the grain began, sponsored by Grow NYC at Union Square Greenmarket.
Union Square Greenmarket
14th St at Union Square; New York, NY 10003
Saturday 10/12: Rye Week Launch Party featuring New York Distilling Company and Van Brunt Stillhouse, 5-8pm
Manhattanites can join New York Distilling Company and Van Brunt Stillhouse, the official first adopter of the Empire Rye designation.
Bottlerocket Wine & Spirits
5 West 19th Street; New York, NY 10011
Monday 10/14: Wild Ink’s Rye Week Industry Night Featuring Hudson Whiskey, 5–9pm
500 W 33rd St Fl 5, New York, NY 10001
Wednesday 10/16 Pastrami on Rye at Biba Williamsburg 6-9:30PM
Pastrami on Rye is about New York State’s forgotten pre-prohibition traditions: rye, bread, whiskey, craft beer, and old world cured meats! Presented by Food Karma, and hosted in part by Jimmy Carbone, New York’s Craft Beer Wizard and social entrepreneur, who is celebrating 500 episodes of Beer Sessions Radio.
Taste pastrami from East Village Meat Market, Morgan’s Brooklyn BBQ; rye whiskey from Hudson Whiskey, Finger Lakes Distilling; rye bread from She Wolf Bakery, Cornmeal Pancakes courtesy of author Amy Halloran; and Farm Beers from Empire Brewing and Two Roads, among others.
Meet special guest Lew Bryson, former managing editor of Whiskey Advocate, the author of Whiskey Master Class as well as Tasting Whiskey.
Biba of Williamsburg
110 Kent Avenue; Williamsburg Brooklyn
Thursday 10/17: Great Ryes of America at New York Distilling, 6:30-9:30PM
It’s Rye Week in New York! Celebrate and taste 25+ rye whiskies from all over the country. Hosted by New York Distilling Company, as part of The Wild Rye Rumpus. Participating distilleries include Basil Hayden, Dad’s Hat, Whistlepig, and many more.
New York Distilling Company
79 Richardson Street; Brooklyn, NY 11211
Thursday 10/17: Barrow’s Intense Tasting Room Takeover Series with Black Button Distilling, 6-8PM
Want to learn how whiskey is made? Join Black Button’s head distiller Jason Barrett as he distills a one-of-a-kind Empire Rye. Tickets are $10 and include one free specialty cocktail of your choice.
Barrow’s Intense Tasting Room
Industry City, 86 34th Street, C134; Brooklyn, NY 11232
For more information, and a full list of events during Rye Week, visit ryeweek.com. For more information on Empire Rye, visit empirerye.com
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