Difference Between Bourbon and Rye Whiskey

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Once a star at the bar, Rye had lost its sheen, and for decades, became an obscure whiskey made by a few distilleries. However, just when it seemed that Rye had become a part of whiskey history, it came back with a bang and more distilleries are noticing the trend. New brands are coming in the market as more manufacturers are making this whiskey. Though the way in which both Bourbon and Rye whiskeys are made are quite similar, there are a lot of differences in the mashbill, taste, percentage alcohol and so on. Here are the differences between the two.

 

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The Mix

As the name suggests, Rye whiskey starts with at least 51% Rye grain and the rest of it is generally corn and barley. Bourbon, on the other hand, has corn as its predominant ingredient making up for at least 51% of the mashbill. However, it cannot be more than 79% of corn because then it is classified as corn whiskey and not Bourbon. The aging conditions for Bourbon and Rye whiskey is the same. They both need charred and new American Oak Barrels. They both have the same distillation standards too. They cannot be distilled to have more than 80% Alcohol by Volume. Therefore, it is the ingredients in the initial mix that make for the marked change in the taste and texture of the final product.

Geography Matters

In case of Bourbon, it does. To a whiskey, to be called a Bourbon, it has to be produced in America. Some people also think that a Bourbon has to be produced in the Bourbon County in United States, but that is just a misconception. Rye whiskey, on the other hand, has no such restriction. In fact, Canadian Rye whiskey is widely popular and the country has a long history of using Rye in their whiskeys. However, there are no set standards for the Canadian counterparts. Interestingly enough, the only 100% Rye whiskey comes only from Canada.

Taste and Texture

There is a distinctive taste of spices that Rye whiskey has. It also has a more dry feel in the mouth. Canadian version of Rye has a smoother taste and there is only a slight presence of the Rye spice. On the other hand, the higher amount of corn in the Bourbon mix, ensures that the drink feels sweeter to taste. However, given that Bourbon has corn as the main ingredient, it has a fuller body and also has the hint of spices and caramel.

Market

There is no doubt that a few years ago, it looked like Rye was taking its last breaths. However, it has slowly been resurrected. Its revival is largely due to the changing tastes of the new generation and the appreciation for craft liquors, which people are ready to pay more for. Today, it has a niche market which is slowly growing.

Alternatively, Bourbon is a popular drink that is loved by the masses. Since there is not much of a difference in the starting ingredients and the aging process, distilleries that are already into Bourbon and are curious about the growing market are branching out into making Rye and at a quick rate.

Bourbon and Rye both are great liquors. Rye is definitely spicier and less sweet than Bourbon. However, it becomes subtle with aging, but it always packs that initial kick. Bourbon on the other hand has won many hearts over the years and is an integral part of many beloved cocktails. Given the fact that many of the cocktails that use Bourbon today were originally intended to use Rye, it would not be difficult to mix it up behind the bar, now that Rye is easily available and also has a fan base that savors the taste.

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