Watch yourself here with your rye whiskey purchases. Though rye whiskey is similar to bourbon (at least 51% rye -instead of 51% corn as bourbon must be- aged in new,charred oak barrels, distilled at no more than 160 proof, at least 80 proof in the bottle and entered into barrels at 125proof), it does NOT hold the same restrictions about adding caramel coloring or additives. Bourbon is “America’s spirit” (In 1964, Congress declared bourbon an official product of the U.S.), but rye, sadly, does not hold that distinction. It can be made elsewhere and with much less attention to its integrity.
Though rules about rye can be more lax than those on bourbon, if the product is a STRAIGHT RYE WHISKEY, than all the rules apply. No colorings or flavorings are allowed and it must be aged for at least 2 years in new, charred oak barrels. Look for the straight ryes. Or do your research. Not every rye is equal.