Let’s get this straight off the bat: all Bourbons are Whiskey, but not all Whiskey is Bourbon. To be called Bourbon, Whiskey must adhere to a set of strict rules. Most importantly, it must be produced in the United States and it must be made from a grain mixture that is at least 51% corn and matured in new and charred American white oak barrels. No colourings, flavors or other additives can be added to Bourbon and it must be bottled at 40% ABV or more.
There are few things that say 'Merica louder than Bourbon and there are many great choices available from the big names as well as many craft producers.
Then there's Rye. Starring in many classic cocktails, its been making a big comeback in the past years. Made from at least 51 percent rye (a grass grown as a grain), Rye Whiskey is drier and less sweet than Bourbon and has a knockout blend of fruit and spice components — often with dashes of vanilla and leather thrown in — that make any Rye-based cocktail more complex.
Today the main differences are that Bourbon has to be made in America, while Rye Whiskey can be made anywhere, and whereas Bourbon has to be made from 51% corn, Rye has to be made from 51% rye. Corn distillation produces a sweeter tasting Bourbon Whiskey while Rye presents as zestier.
An American Single Malt must be:
Made from 100% malted barley, distilled at one distillery, mashed, distilled and matured in the USA, matured in freshly charred Oak, not exceeding 700 Liters; distilled to no more than 125 - 160 proof (depending on the distiller) and bottled at 80 proof or higher.
What defines Tennessee Whiskey?
Tennessee Whiskey is born from a Bourbon, but before it’s barreled it gets filtered through charcoal in a process they call the Lincoln County method.