About Kings County Straight Empire Rye Whiskey
Situated along the banks of the East River, Kings County Distillery is New York City's oldest operating whiskey distillery and the first distillery in New York City since Prohibition. Wedged between Williamsburg and Vinegar Hill, Colin Spoelman and David Haskell, the master distillers at Kings County, make hand-crafted bourbon, moonshine, and now single malt whiskey out of the 117-year old Paymaster Building at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
A typewriter the two distillers found on the sidewalk in Williamsburg is used to make the labels that adorn their clear, flask-like bottles, while a hairdryer (made by Revlon) is used to affix each bottle seal. Handwritten scrawls on a chalkboard keep track of different batches, and mesh laundry bags are used as strainers.
Part of a broader project with other New York distillers, Kings County Empire Rye whiskey is made from 80% New York grown Danko rye and 20% english barley malt and is aged 2 years in charred oak barrels. With notes of cinnamon, nutmeg, maple, mint, and cut grass with a finish of warm bread and holiday spice, this is a more flavorful rye than some of its commercial peers. Released at 102 proof, this is a potent entry into a much-loved category.
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As American as the bald eagle, rye whiskey was first brewed in the American Northeast in the 1600s. Even George Washington distilled it after leaving the Oval Office, so there’s no way of denying its origin.
It’s distinguished from bourbon for its original and unique spicy notes.
By law, rye whiskey must be made from at least 51% rye grain, aged in new and charred oak barrels for at least two years, and bottled at no more than 62,5% ABV.
Check out our impressive selection of rye whiskeys, find your new favorites in The best-reviewed rye whiskeys, and explore our treasury of Best rye bottles under $100.