Rock and Rye whiskey is simply a combination of rye whiskey and rock candy with citrus and spices. It is an old-timey recipe that was enjoyed throughout the 19th century and was said to cure whatever ails you. Rock and Rye has dipped in popularity over the years, but with the recent resurgence of rye whiskey, it has found a new following of fans. There are even a number of commercially produced Rock and Ryes available, but it's very easy to make it yourself, and you can tailor it to your own taste.
The Rock and Rye recipe below includes all of the popular elements in the traditional liquor. Most are very common ingredients, with the only exception being horehound. This herb has long been used to aid digestion and is likely one of the keys to Rock and Rye's original success as a medicinal tonic. You can follow this recipe with or without horehound; in fact, many versions of Rock and Rye leave it out.
Rock and Rye is an infusion and is ready to drink within a week. Once finished, enjoy it on its own or try it in your favorite whiskey cocktail (it makes an excellent John Collins). You can let it infuse at room temperature for over a week and, once it's strained and bottled, it keeps for up to two months in the refrigerator.
- In a large container, add whiskey, rock candy, cloves, and horehound.
- Allow the mixture to infuse in a cool, dry place for about 3 days.
- Add the remaining ingredients and steep for an additional 1 to 2 days or more, to taste.
- Once the whiskey has reached the desired flavor, strain out the fruit and spices, then bottle.
Tips for Making Your Own Rock and Rye
Using a good rye whiskey is essential, but it doesn't have to be from a special-edition batch.
Several of the well-known major brands, such as Wild Turkey, Jim Beam, and Rittenhouse rye whiskies, are all good choices. With all types of rye, the rock candy cuts the spice notes of the whiskey, creating a mellower blend of spicy and sweet.
The longer the rock candy sits in the whiskey, the more the flavors will meld. It is important to test the infusion periodically until it gets to your desired flavor intensity.
The finished Rock and Rye should be bottled under a tight seal. The original whiskey bottle works well, or you can use a mason jar with a good seal or another glass bottle that seals out air.
Commercial Rock and Rye
As mentioned above, the recent popularity of Rock and Rye has inspired a few distillers to create bottled versions. Even if you are interested in making your own infusion, it may be a good idea to give one of these a try so you have an idea for the target flavor: