Base Spirit: Rye

The base spirit of a gin refers to the distillate to which botanicals were added. It’s helpful to think about the base spirit as a vodka-like spirit that the distiller used as a starting point— a blank canvas upon which the gin was designed.

But choice of base alone doesn’t mean that you’ll be able to taste it. Depending on choices the distiller makes, such as how many times the base is distilled, or to what strength it is distilled to— there might be no character at all coming from the base spirit.

Rye Base

Gin is rather unique among spirit categories. While many spirits are defined by the type of distillate— for gin this is not true. Gin can have any base spirit, and as long juniper is predominant. It’s gin.

Rye base spirits often require a bit of barley malt to get started. Once it gets going a rye base can be one of the most distinctive and characterful bases a distiller can choose.

Many people describe Rye once distilled and aged as having a slightly sour, slightly peppery character. Neutral rye base spirit can taste even more botanical. Notes of allspice, caraway, peppermint, black pepper, or even grains of paradise aren’t unheard of. It can be complex if a distiller chooses to utilize the rye character as part of the gin. Furthermore, Rye base can also have a lovely texture and rich viscosity. The mouthfeel and character are two of the primary reasons a distiller might choose to use rye spirit as a base of their gin.

Rye base for a long time was not very common, because a shortage of rye growers led to the “Great Rye-shortage of the mid-10’s.” Fortunately, increased demand led to an increase in rye growers. Now gin distillers are discovering rye more and more as a way to add unique character to their gins.

Gins with a Rye Base

Last updated May 4th, 2020 by Aaron Knoll
Tenth Ward Distilling Company Genever Style Gin
Last updated January 19th, 2020 by Aaron Knoll
Bog Gin
Last updated December 19th, 2018 by Aaron Knoll
Mythic Gin
Last updated August 28th, 2018 by Aaron Knoll
Dry Rye Gin
Last updated August 16th, 2018 by Aaron Knoll
BVD Borovicka
Last updated June 24th, 2018 by Aaron Knoll
Wiggly Bridge Gin
Last updated April 26th, 2018 by Aaron Knoll
Last updated August 8th, 2016 by Aaron Knoll