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

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

Gustaf Navy Strength Gin

Last updated August 8th, 2016 by Aaron Knoll


Last updated November 20th, 2015 by Aaron Knoll


Last updated September 28th, 2015 by Aaron Knoll

Ivy City Gin

Last updated September 1st, 2015 by Aaron Knoll

Dillon’s Cherry Gin

Last updated June 24th, 2015 by Aaron Knoll

Blaum Bros. Gin

Last updated April 22nd, 2015 by Aaron Knoll

Wigle Ginever

Last updated April 14th, 2013 by Aaron Knoll