Will Rock & Rye Hook Serious Whiskey Drinkers?

Considering America’s growing soft spot for whiskey—and all its esoteric iterations—rock and rye (an American rye whiskey-based liqueur), is ready for a comeback. And with Allen Katz, co-founder of New York Distilling Company, introducing “Mr. Katz’s Rock & Rye” later this week, that return seems to be on the horizon. Robert Simonson reports on the new release for The New York Times.

Once renowned for its medicinal properties, the mid-19th-century spirit was made by mixing a young rye whiskey with rock candy syrup or a chunk of rock candy. It’s thought to have been created to temper the taste of low-quality bases, and was first bottled on its own in 1884. It likely fell into obscurity when better, more complex liquors came on the scene.

Kicking off the new wave of rock and ryes was entrepreneur Robert Cooper (of Cooper Spirits) in 2012 with his iteration, Slow & Low. Improving on the original simple recipe with the addition of citrus and bitters, the brand has been gaining a small cult following since its release. But the playing field was not to remain without competition.

Katz, who will debut the new spirit at the Food Film Festival in the East Village on October 29th, is presenting the 32.5% ABV spirit as versatile—meant for both neat pours and as a cocktail ingredient. But, as the New York Times questions, is rock and rye more likely to attract craft cocktail connoisseurs or the flavored-whiskey contingent? If Katz is lucky, it’ll hook both. [The New York Times] [Photo: Flickr/H. Michael Miley]