In 2015, distillers from Black Button Distilling, Coppersea Distilling, Finger Lakes Distilling, Kings County Distillery, New York Distilling, and Tuthilltown Spirits created a new whiskey designation called Empire Rye. It’s a reference to New York’s importance in rye whiskey production prior to Prohibition. These distilleries (Van Brundt joined later) all make a whiskey from start to finish in New York using at least 75 percent New York-grown rye grain. The result is a delicious class of whiskeys that can compete with the best. These distilleries are ample reason enough to start with New York on any whiskey-focused road trip.
Where to go: Hudson is a good home base to dive into Empire Rye, though city lovers may prefer to start in the Big Apple. You can find many of the distilleries in the Hudson Valley (including Tuthilltown, Hillrock, and Coppersea), as well as in New York City (New York Distilling Company, Van Brundt, and Kings County Distilling).