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.

Are you interested in learning more about individual distilleries? Do you need information to help you plan your own distillery visits? If so, we can help. At we have an interactive map of ALL of the Kentucky distilleries, as well as useful information for planning your visits. Check us out today!