How to Make Rock and Rye Whiskey

Rock and rye whiskey recipe

​The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  • Total: 10 mins
  • Prep: 10 mins
  • Cook: 0 mins
  • Infusion: 168 hrs
  • Servings: 25 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
85 Calories
0g Fat
3g Carbs
0g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 25
Amount per serving
Calories 85
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 1mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 3g 1%
Dietary Fiber 1g 3%
Protein 0g
Calcium 9mg 1%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Rock and rye whiskey is simply a combination of rye whiskey and rock candy accented with citrus and spices. It is an old-timey recipe that was enjoyed throughout the 19th century and was said to cure whatever ails you. Rock and rye has dipped in popularity over the years, but with the recent resurgence of rye whiskey, it has found a new following of fans. There are even a number of commercially produced rock and ryes available, but it's very easy to make it yourself. This allows you to tailor it to your own taste.

This rock and rye recipe includes all of the popular elements in the traditional liquor. Most are very common ingredients; the only exception is ​horehound. This herb has long been used to aid digestion and is likely one of the keys to rock and rye's original success as a medicinal tonic. You can follow this recipe with or without horehound; in fact, many versions leave it out. 

Rock and rye is an infusion and is ready to drink within a week. Once finished, enjoy it on its own or try it in your favorite whiskey cocktail (it makes an excellent John Collins).


Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients fo rock and rye whiskey
    ​The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck
  2. In a large container, add the whiskey, rock candy, clove, and horehound.

    Infuse whiskey
    ​The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck
  3. Allow the mixture to infuse in a cool, dark place for about 3 days.

    Allow mixture to infuse
    ​The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck
  4. Add the remaining ingredients and steep for an additional 1 to 2 days (or more), to taste.

    Infusing whiskey
    ​The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck
  5. Once the whiskey has reached the desired flavor, strain out the fruits and spices and bottle the whiskey.

    Strain out spices and fruits
    ​The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck
  6. Serve and enjoy!

    Rock and rye whiskey
    ​The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck


  • Using a good rye whiskey is essential, but it doesn't have to be from a special-edition batch. Several of the well-known major brands, such as Wild Turkey, Jim Beam, and Rittenhouse rye whiskeys, are all good choices. With all types of rye, the rock candy cuts the spice notes of the whiskey, creating a mellower blend of spicy and sweet. 
  • The longer the rock candy sits in the whiskey, the more the flavors will meld. It is important to test the infusion periodically until it gets to your desired flavor intensity.
  • The finished rock and rye should be bottled under a tight seal. The original whiskey bottle works well, or you can use a mason jar or another glass bottle that seals out air. 
  • Once strained and bottled, rock and rye keeps well for up to two months in the refrigerator. 

How Strong Is Rock and Rye?

The rock candy will infuse its sweetness into the whiskey and, much like a liqueur, this will cut the alcohol content down. However, it's not going to be significant and will vary from one batch to the next. Assume that your finished rock and rye is nearly identical to the bottling strength of the whiskey you use to make it.