Woodford Reserve joins the rye resurgence - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Woodford Reserve joins the rye resurgence

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- With bourbon's surging popularity nationwide -- and the budding art of mixology -- rye whiskey is making a comeback.

It's been a fast growing sector of the whiskey industry in the last several years and many distilleries have added rye to their portfolios with great success.

Woodford Reserve has joined the resurgence, releasing its first permanent rye variety. This is only the second addition Woodford has made to its core lineup, with Double Oaked being the first.

"It looks a bit lighter, and the aroma is spicier than Woodford," said Chris Morris as he described the flavor profile.

Morris will tell you his taste is in bourbon, but he recognized the need for a rye variety in the Woodford lineup years ago.

"We started making rye before rye was popular."

Morris mixed up his first batch of Woodford Rye ten years ago, unaware of the resurgence it would make years later.

"At about the fourth year of our production process, rye had its resurgence. It started to grow and gain a new audience," said Morris. "Thank goodness we had rye in barrels. But it wasn't mature yet, and we weren't going to rush this rye."

In its first year, Woodford Reserve is releasing nearly 7,000 cases. It will only be available in a few states, including Kentucky.

"It's a permanent member of the family," said Morris. "But its not going to always be available these first few years."

Woodford Reserve's expansion into rye comes on the heels of bourbon's rise to fame.

"Rye is really taken off kind of like bourbon," said Jason Brauner, owner of Bourbon's Bistro in Louisville. "Rye's really popular here."

Brauner said he carries around 12 rye varieties.

"It's a lot more spicy, so its a better platform for the sweet things we've got in there," he said referencing the Old Fashioned he was mixing up.

Brittany Allison of the Kentucky Distillers Association said the popularity of mixologists is also lending itself to ryes growing popularity. Allison said mixologists work with flavors in spirits, rather than trying to mask them. Rye is great for cocktails, she said.

"This is what people want and so this is what they're making," she said. "We saw it fall off the map. In the early 90s there were hardly any Rye brands, and now, most of our Kentucky distilleries are making some kind of rye expression."

Woodford Rye is now available in liquor stores and restaurants across Kentucky, Chicago, New York City, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. It will not be available in Indianapolis until next year.

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