Craft Ryes Exposed


By Dane Feldman

Photo by Dane Feldman.

The last several years, American consumers have been more about what we put into our bodies than ever before. Of course, this doesn’t pertain to all Americans, but many are rallying against GMOs in favor of locally grown, organic, and pesticide-free produce. In my house, a fight to cut out high fructose corn syrup has taken center stage.

So why, then, are we turning a blind eye to the alcohol we put into our bodies?

A recent piece in The Daily Beast sheds some light on an issue I, for one, am embarrassed to admit I was not privy to before its publication date. The issue at hand is an alarming one: much of the craft whiskey we purchase for the sake of its individuality actually hails from an old Lawrenceburg, Indiana Seagram distillery–now a factory–once used for producing Seagram’s Seven Crown.

Now, I quite like bourbon and rye. Truthfully I’ll happily take a Canadian Club–well-known for its high rye content–over a Macallan, Glenfiddich, or Glenlivet 12-year (maybe not an 18- or 25-year, though). But, I feel shamed by the fact that I have touted Bulleit Rye for seeming so unique in flavor when in reality Bulleit, too, is part of the Indiana factory-produced MGP whiskey. I refuse to sit here and say, “how could I have been fooled?” when the fact remains that I have a lot to learn about whiskey and each bottle’s origins. It took two years for me to refine my taste to bourbon and rye and move away from scotch, so I consider myself far from an expert.

Yet, I feel an intense sense of self-doubt knowing that much of the whiskey I consumed in the recent past all came from the same factory. How, then, can I say that I have refined my tastes? How could I possibly say that I recognize such a serious difference between George Dickel Rye, Redemption Rye, and Bulleit Rye? If this isn’t a foot-in-mouth situation for a food blogger, I don’t know what is.

Even corn whiskey comes from MGP whiskey. Sure, I can admit that Bulleit Rye is no small name. In fact, it became quite the household name, regardless of its perceived craft whiskey nomenclature. But, corn whiskey? That’s based on good old moonshine. How could we ever have suspected that moonshine is mass-produced?

From now on, I’ll be doing my homework. I suggest you do the same.

For an old fashioned way to use your rye, check out today’s Dish + Drink.