Rye whisky made in Scotland '˜for first time in 100 years'

A new distillery has revealed rye will be used in Scotch whisky production for the first time in over a century.

Ian Palmer at the Lomond Hill. Picture: contributed

Ryelaw, which is made with a high proportion of malted rye, the key component in American rye whiskey, and also malted barley, the key ingredient in Scotch whisky, is being distilled by InchDairnie Distillery in Fife from today.

It will be filled into casks for maturation until it is judged to be ready for bottling, at which point it will be the first release from the distillery in Glenrothes, which opened in May last year.

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The creation of Ryelaw marks what is believed to be the return of the use of rye in Scotch whisky for the first time in over 100 years, and the culmination of a meticulously developed year-long project at InchDairnie.

Ryelaw is inspired by a discovery made by InchDairnie’s managing director Ian Palmer - the unearthing of evidence in the 1908-9 Royal Commission Report on Whisky and Other Potable Spirits that shows rye was historically used often to make Scotch.

He combined this finding with his desire to fuse whisky tradition with technology and a “forward-thinking approach”.

The firm’s recipe, with its high proportion of malted rye, and the fact that it will be made and matured in Scotland, means it will meet the legal definitions of both a Scotch whisky and an American rye whiskey. In America, rye whiskey must contain at least 51 per cent rye.

Distillation will partly take place in the distillery’s bespoke Lomond Hill still, which was installed alongside two traditional pot stills to provide the capacity to experiment and the ability to have greater control over shaping flavour. As a result, Ryelaw will be the first rye whisky ever to be distilled in a Lomond Hill still.

While it can be described in general terms as a ‘rye whisky’, Ryelaw will officially be categorised as a single grain Scotch, made using malted rye.

Ryelaw will be matured in new American oak casks, with the combination of the malted rye and fresh wood designed to create a distinctive take on the full spicy flavour, which rye whisky is renowned for.

When it is released, Ryelaw will become part of the core range being created at the distillery that will include other innovative whiskies, and an InchDairnie Single Malt Scotch which is expected to be available in around 2029.

Ian Palmer said: “Our intention with the distillery right from the start was to push the boundaries of flavour in whisky using a combination of our experience and new technology while remaining true to whisky’s traditions.

“Creating this ‘rye whisky’ is one of many experimental ideas we had in mind when we built the distillery and one of the reasons we chose to install specific equipment that others do not have such as the mash filter and Lomond Hill still.

“We’ve spent a year researching and developing this and now we’re incredibly excited to be ready to start distilling. Rye whisky aficionados and malt whisky lovers will have to wait a good few years before we are ready to bottle it though.”