Rebel 100 Straight Rye Whiskey Review

Drink Reviews whiskey
Rebel 100 Straight Rye Whiskey Review

It’s always been somewhat more difficult to find objectively great value in the rye whiskey market, compared with the bourbon market. There are a few reasons for this–rye whiskey has always been a smaller niche, and is thus produced at somewhat smaller scale. It’s a somewhat more finicky and difficult distillation process as well. In general, whiskey fans have been conditioned at this point to expect to pay a bit more on average for rye, often with smaller age statements. Options for true workhorse rye whiskey bottles on the bottom shelf have remained limited, although there are stalwarts from the likes of Heaven Hill, Wild Turkey, Old Forester and George Dickel. And you can now add another great value to that short list, in the form of Rebel 100 Rye Whiskey. This new bottle and its frankly shocking $20 MSRP have appeared in a time when rampant inflation and price gouging have made such a thing almost unheard of.

Rebel 100 Rye Whiskey is essentially the upgraded version of the existing rye from Luxco’s Rebel, the brand once known as Rebel Yell. It’s a product of Lux Row Distillers in Bardstown, Kentucky, and its straight designation (without additional details) tells us that the contents of the bottle are at least 4 years old. Combine that with the 50% ABV (100 proof), and on paper it’s just a fantastic value any way you slice it. People are simply not launching brands like this with $20 MSRPs anymore, folks. You’ll be finding many brands with similar specs launching for $50, or $75, or even beyond. On paper, Rebel 100 feels like a flashback to a decade ago, before the massive across-the-board rise in whiskey prices. Honestly, the last time anything like this even launched on a wide scale was probably the arrival of Old Forester Straight Rye Whiskey back in 2019. That brand went on to become a mainstay at cocktail bars, so perhaps Rebel 100 Straight Rye Whiskey will as well.

This one comes from a classic Kentucky rye mash bill of 51% rye, 45% corn and 4% malted barley. So with that said, let’s get right to tasting and see what you’re getting for your $20.

On the nose, Rebel 100 is hitting up front with heavy honey, suggesting considerable sweetness. I’m getting lots of citrus and stone fruit (apricot), along with freshly cut lumber. The rye has a more grain-forward, rye bread character, and there’s something distinctly buttery here as well. The overall impression is buttered rye toast, with cinnamon sugar and a side of fruit.

On the palate, this is sweet-spicy and pretty big in stature. I’m getting heavy honey here again, which gives a distinctly candied impression to orange peel and peach ring fruitiness. There’s also tons of pepper, quite spicy and tingly, with black pepper and hints of red chile flakes. The overall sweetness puts one in mind of ream soda, and there’s really no missing that this is on the sweeter side of the rye spectrum, into genuinely sugary territory. That may turn off some drinkers, but regardless it’s still a hard to believe value for the money when taken in the context of the 2023 whiskey market.

Rebel 100 Rye Whiskey doesn’t exactly set the world on fire, but it’s a bold, assertive, sweet dram that should function just fine in a cocktail capacity. At this price point, there’s nothing more you can ask of it. Just enjoy the value while you can get it.

Distillery: Lux Row Distillers (Luxco)
City: Bardstown, KY
Style: Straight rye whiskey
ABV: 50% (100 proof)
Availability: 750 ml bottles, $20 MSRP

Jim Vorel is a Paste staff writer and resident liquor geek. You can follow him on Twitter for more drink writing.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Share Tweet Submit Pin