Their View: Methods have changed, but it's good to see
Here's good news - purely for historical reasons, mind you: Rye whiskey is making a comeback.
Rye was once America's signature whiskey. George Washington distilled it, and his distillery near Mt. Vernon has recently been rebuilt. Rye whiskey, made by Scots and Scots-Irish of Western Pennsylvania, was the proximate cause of the Whiskey Rebellion. One of those fine products had the intriguing name “Monongahela Red.”
Rye whiskey was served in the saloons of the West and in the taverns of the big industrial cities. Private eyes kept it in their desk drawers. It was the workingman's whiskey.
But Prohibition, changing tastes that favor lighter drinks, and competition from bourbon caused rye to fall out of favor. Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia has been known to take out his fiddle and play the old folk song “Rye Whiskey” but Byrd is 89 and his younger colleagues may not know what he's singing about.
Now, however, The New York Times reports rye is undergoing a revival and in a way that would dumbfound an old steelworker enjoying a shot and a beer after a grueling shift in the mills.
Rye is coming back as a high-end boutique whiskey selling for prices ranging from $30 to $140 a fifth. Aged rye, rhapsodizes the Times, is “complex and subtle, weaving spice and caramel flavors over and through the grassiness.” To go with your snifter of boutique rye, the Times recommends ginger-pecan biscotti. Hard to say what those ornery, flinty Western Pennsylvania farmers would have made of that.
Still, it's good to see rye restored to its rightful place in the American liquor cabinet. The father of our country would have been pleased.
- Dale McFeatters,
Scripps Howard News Service