Celebrate New York Rye Week
The New York State Assembly has proclaimed October 16-22 ‘New York Rye Week.’ This ancient grain has an important place in New York’s history beginning with its cultivation in the both the Dutch and English colonial eras.
Used for making rye flour, rye beer, and rye whiskey, the versatile grain thrived in New York’s glacial soil and northern climate. Hardy enough to survive cold winters, it proved both reliable and prolific. For hundreds of years it enjoyed a prominent place in New York agriculture.
In recent decades, its popularity waned. Consumer tastes shifted to lighter breads and beer. Bourbon became more fashionable than rye whiskey, and historic cocktails originally developed for rye whiskey began to be made with corn whiskey instead. New York farmers still grew rye as a winter cover crop but lacked a strong commercial market to sell into.
As consumer tastes shift once again, now toward spicier and more characterful products, rye is enjoying a renaissance. Driven in part by the resurgence of Nordic cuisine rye flour baking has not only become newly popular but is being re-imagined in wonderful ways. Rye beers, nearly forgotten for decades, have become a modern staple of artisan brewers. And rye whiskey, America’s original whiskey, has enjoyed a surging popularity that shows no sign of abating.