Buffalo Trace Kosher Rye Review [In Depth]

Buffalo Trace Kosher Rye Whiskey

Alex author
Founder, writer
buffalo trace kosher rye whiskey header

Buffalo Trace Kosher Rye Details

Distillery: Buffalo Trace

Type & Region: Rye, Kentucky, USA

Alcohol: 47%

Composition: Unknown

Aged: 7 years

Color: 1.3/2.0 on the color scale (russet, muscat)

Price: $40 MSRP

From the company website:

In partnership with the Chicago Rabbinical Council (cRc), Buffalo Trace Distillery produced this Rye Recipe Bourbon Whiskey. Made with the same high quality grains as Buffalo Trace Bourbon Whiskey, this Kosher spirit was aged in specifically designated Kosher barrels. Although not kosher for Passover, in order to avoid issues of Jewish ownership over Passover, these barrels were sold to a non-Jewish executive in a ceremony witnessed by a representative from the cRc. After aging for seven years, this Rye Recipe Bourbon was bottled at 94 proof after ensuring the bottling lines were cleaned beforehand and that no contact was made by non-Kosher spirits. Released after Passover each year, this Rye Recipe Bourbon is bold and independent, celebrating its heritage from America’s oldest continually-operating distillery.

Buffalo Trace Kosher Rye overview

Every year after Passover, Buffalo Trace releases 3 whiskeys: Kosher Rye Bourbon (which is weirdly labeled in a way that occasionally makes people think that it’s the rye whiskey), Kosher Wheated Bourbon, and Kosher Rye whiskey.
I reviewed the Kosher Rye Bourbon and Kosher Wheated bourbon years ago. Between moving to Japan and working on other stuff, I didn’t get around to getting a bottle of this to review for a few more years.
I guess finding a bottle was a major roadblock, as it’s either hard to find or marked up to prices I’m not willing to pay. This time around, I had a stroke of luck as I found this bottle sitting on a shelf right before Thanksgiving, months after Passover (usually in April). I don’t know how it happened…maybe someone found it in the back and put it out.
Bear with me in this part, or skip over it to the heart of the actual tasting notes, because I want to write about the Kosher part.
The decision to prominently call out Kosher on the label is an interesting decision because I haven’t seen anyone else call it out like that before. To be clear, I am not Jewish and not an expert on Judaism, but I’ve learned a lot over the years being with my Jewish fiance (depending on when you read this, could be wife).
I got the opportunity to meet Chaim Litvin, aka the Bourbon Rabbi, and he mentioned that whiskey (and the process to make it) isn’t inherently not kosher (double negative intended). My other experiences confirm that it is true for some, but not all, people because it ultimately depends on what you believe.
I’ve been to multiple Chabad’s where the Rabbi happily drank a bourbon that I brought, as long as it wasn’t finished in wine. And yes, I had a very informative discussion about why the wine part was important (it’s inherently not kosher unless done a certain way). Who does the certification matters for some as well. Kosher is a complex topic that I’m obviously not fully equipped to explain, but can appreciate.
Now to the part about a non-Kosher person drinking this whiskey. In the past, I’ve seen comments (some directed at me and some to others) asking / criticizing why a person, who doesn’t need Kosher whiskey, would take it away from someone else who does. They would be partially right because I don’t need my whiskey to be explicitly Kosher. And you know what, some people may only drink whiskey that is clearly labeled as kosher, either on the front label or with a hechsher mark somewhere on the back label.
At the same time, how many whiskey reviewers out there are religious enough to only drink whiskey like this? I don’t think there are many, so if you want a second opinion on how the whiskey drinks, it’s going to inevitably come from someone who isn’t Kosher. Take it for what it is, I’m getting off my soapbox on the topic.
If you want to know how Buffalo Trace goes the extra mile to ensure that this whiskey is kosher, refer back to their description. Later in this review, you’ll see an image of the back label, which contains the same information.
Let’s find out if this annual release brings something special in this Buffalo Trace Kosher Rye Whiskey review.
buffalo trace kosher rye whiskey back

As an FYI, I bought and use these Glencairn glasses for everything (they’re the best): Glencairn Crystal Whiskey Glass Set of 6, Set of 4Set of 2, or just one. Full transparency, this is an affiliate link, so I may earn a commission if you buy this or something else from Amazon.

Buffalo Trace Kosher Rye smell

I smell honey, candied licorice and orange peel, maraschino cherry, toasted oak, lychee clove, nutmeg, rose water, and a little earthy caraway seed. Buffalo Trace Kosher Rye is bright, herbal, fruity, and candy-y (meaning a lot of candied qualities) with much lighter earthiness. This is very rye-y in a pleasant way.
Buffalo Trace Kosher Rye smells great with well developed scents, and better density and body than the 47% ABV might suggest.
After swirling and 12 minutes of rest, I get dark honey, candied licorice and orange peel, rose water, apricot, candied pineapple, toasted oak, clove, nutmeg, cinnamon, and mint. Buffalo Trace Kosher Rye still smells great, with pleasing sweetness, fruitiness, and life, and surprisingly good body.
The layers and complexity are there too with a mix of everything I just mentioned. It’s not mind blowing by any means, but it’s still really good. The scents do it for me.
buffalo trace kosher rye whiskey front

Buffalo Trace Kosher Rye taste and aftertaste

I taste honey, candied licorice and pineapple, lychee, cherry, roasted oak, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, rose water, and some earthy caraway seed. The flavors still have a lot of sweet herbalness and fruitiness, but there’s also more roastiness and earthiness that I don’t get in the scents. It pushes to the front and makes this seel not as delicate and fruity as the scents are, although it’s still very pleasant
For better or worse, the flavors are more telling of the 47% ABV. They don’t have quite as much fullness and richness as the scents do, although it’s not at all thin. The silver lining is that there’s also very little bite.
With hard “chewing” I taste honeycomb, cherry, lychee, fennel, candied lemon peel, vanilla, toasted oak, clove, nutmeg, mint, lemon, and a little earthiness. “Chewing” transforms the flavors into something more interesting and lively. There’s bolder brightness, sweetness, and herbalness that pop with vibrance, and toned-down earthiness and dryness. The balance is much improved.
The finish starts with honey, candied pineapple, licorice, lychee, roasted oak, and caraway seed with lingering toasty and herbal sweetness, lychee, oak, cinnamon, nutmeg, and dry oak. After “chewing” it leaves honey, candied licorice and lemon, pineapple, lychee, roasted oak, vanilla, clove, and mint.
There’s still enough licorice-y herbalness that might turn off some people who don’t necessarily like rye, but this is a well made rye.
Buffalo Trace Kosher Rye tastes great and is a step up from Sazerac rye.
I’ve unfortunately lost some Glencairn’s while in transit, and that made me very sad. So, I wised up and bought this Glencairn Travel Case that comes also comes with 2 glasses so I don’t need to worry so much about them breaking. I think it’s great, and I think you’ll love it too. Seriously, if you already have glasses, protect them.

Buffalo Trace Kosher Rye Whiskey Rating

Top Shelf
First off, I’m glad that I could buy Buffalo Trace Kosher Rye for MSRP ($40-50ish), because it over-delivers at that price. That said, I went back and forth on whether this is a “Top Shelf” rye, and I ultimately landed on the “Top Shelf” side.
I ended up this way because of the flavors with vigorous “chewing”. Without that, this could be a strong “Mid Shelf+” bourbon. The fragrant and interesting scents were already worthy of being “Top Shelf”, but my first few sips didn’t have enough oomph or character to get to the next level. The balance was a little off too, as it was a bit too earthy and dry for me. It’s not particularly unique either, but it delivers a strong rye experience nonetheless.
The extra “push” released its potential.
“Chewing” shifts the balance, and pulls out the extra sweet, herbal, and fruity pop that gets the balance to the right place and adds more richness and complexity. The body and viscosity open up too so the 47% ABV doesn’t feel like a detractor. Sure, 55% ABV would probably be much better, but it being this good at 47% is a compliment from me.
I’ll write it again as I always do – if you like rye whiskey then I think you’ll most likely enjoy this a lot too. I can’t guarantee it, but I think that it’s highly likely.
Buffalo Trace Kosher Rye isn’t super allocated, but it’s not that easy to find either and often marked up. Finding one that’s not marked up a lot is probably the toughest part. It’s definitely worth it at or around MSRP.
Alex author
Meet the Author: Alex

I have far too much fun writing about whiskey and singlehandedly running The Whiskey Shelf to bring you independent, honest, and useful reviews, comparisons, and more. I’m proudly Asian American and can speak Cantonese, Mandarin, and some Japanese.

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Shattered glass really sucks, so if you’re on the move, this Glencairn-like stainless steel snifter glass should survive your travels. Full transparency, this is an Amazon affiliate link, so I may earn a commission if you buy this or something else from Amazon.

BrüMate NOS’R, Double-Wall Stainless Steel Whiskey Nosing Glass – 7oz (Matte Black)