Long before Americans started distilling from corn, rye was the most common grain for making whiskey. Since rye grows well in otherwise poor soils, and since many eastern European immigrants were already familiar with cultivating it, the natural progression was to turn it into a mash and distill it into whiskey. Ryes remained the preferred whiskey for generations until around the time of the Volstead Act which, you have to admit, kind of ruined everything. In fact, most of the whiskey-based cocktails that we still make today—like Manhattans and Old Fashioneds—were built around the distinct profile of rye whiskeys. While bourbons surged in popularity after the end of Prohibition, ryes are currently making a comeback in the US thanks to smaller distilleries like Missoula’s own Montgomery Distillery. Their Sudden Wisdom rye is a great expression of the classic American whiskey, and surprisingly well balanced for being only two years aged. While some ryes can be a little sharp and overly spicy at that age, the Sudden Wisdom retains just enough of the grassy, dry rye spice notes while softening them out with a nice amount of mellow barrel character. The result is an easy-drinking whiskey that stands up well in classic cocktails and is quite approachable when enjoyed neat.