Skip to content

Grist & Saw Empire Rye Review

  • by
Grist & Saw Empire Rye
Grist & Saw
Empire Rye
At least 2 Years Old
Straight Rye Whiskey
96 Proof
What is Empire Rye?

Grist & Saw Empire Rye is, well, an Empire Rye. So what is an “Empire Rye”? It’s described as “The Whisky Style of New York State” by It is a specific category of whiskey (which they apparently spell without the “e”) akin to Tennessee Whiskey. Like Tennessee Whiskey, it is not a specific designation by the TTB, and was created by a consortium of NY distilleries who wanted to establish a whiskey style for NY State.

Empire Rye Requirements

The requirements for an Empire Rye are a bit more rigid than for some of the other categories of whiskey:

🔸Must be at least 75% NY grown rye
🔸The remaining 25% can be any raw or malted grain grown anywhere
🔸Distilled to no more than 160 proof
🔸Aged for a minimum of two years in charred, new oak barrels at not more than 115 proof at time of entry
🔸Must be mashed, fermented, distilled, barreled and aged at a single New York State distillery.
🔸A blended whisky containing no less than 100% qualifying Empire Rye whiskies from multiple distilleries may be called Blended Empire Rye.

A quick look shows a few differentiating features from the bourbon and rye categories, notably the barrel entry proof of 115 or less (vs 125 for bourbon and rye) and the minimum age requirement of 2 years, in addition to the NY specifics.

This Grist & Saw Empire Rye was made by Honeoye Falls Distillery. When I tried to learn some more about the distilery, I found out it recently closed. That’s too bad, because this a good rye!

Grist & Saw Empire Rye
Grist & Saw Empire Rye
Tasting Notes

Let’s taste it anyway:

🛏 Rested for 10 minutes in a Glencairn
👉🏻Nose: Citrus, floral, simple syrup sweetness up front; rye spices, caramel in the back; hint of anise. Light alcohol.
👉🏻Taste: Rye spices, simple syrupy sweetness, light char, full mouthfeel
👉🏻Finish: the flavors continue into a long finish, with lingering char, spices and citrus; the sweetness turns to honey and lingers also. Mild burn


Have you had any Empire Ryes? What do you think of the designation? Personally, I really like seeing all these regional styles popping up. It adds some nice variety and gives more people a whiskey that they can feel is their own. Cheers!🥃

Read our article about Pikesville Rye, a “Maryland” Rye.

Buy Bourbon Obsessed Hats & Glencairns

Would you like to learn more about distilleries and bourbon? Are you planning a trip to Kentucky Distilleries? Maybe you would like to live the bourbon life vicariously through us?🙂 If any of these are true, then check out today!