Rye vs. Bourbon: What's the Difference?

Rye Whiskey and Bourbon have a lot in common: Their history goes way back to when distillation was brought to the New World from Europe and became a hit. At the end of 18th century even George Washington owned a distillery in Mount Vernon, producing Rye Whiskey. And it was no hobby: his distillery was the largest in America at the time.

How many musician do you know that made a successful comeback? 
Not many.

Photo: Facebook / BulleitSame thing happened to Rye; when the prohibition was over, Rye didn't restore its former popularity and Bourbon was the star of American bars for the decades to come.

In the past years, Rye Whiskey has been making a comeback once again and it looks like this time it's about to become big once again. Mixologists worship the complexity of Rye and every decent cocktail bar will have Rye cocktails on the menu.

It’s in the 51%
Apart from their past popularity ratings, the main difference between Rye and Bourbon is in their main ingredients.

According to the US law, Bourbon must be distilled from mash that’s at least 51% corn, while Rye Whiskey must be at least 51% Rye. The remaining 49% in both cases can be another grain. The grains used for distillation influence the flavour profile of the final drink. Corn and wheat tend to be sweet, while rye is spicy.

Almost there. There's just one more thing you should know: 

In Canada they have their own version of Rye. 
It's called either Canadian Whisky, Canadian Rye Whisky or simply Rye Whisky.

Historically, it was made from rye, but now there are no rules in place on how much rye its mash bill should contain and it can be very little. During the times that distillation in the US was held back by the prohibition, Canadian production dominated the US market and that's why for some people Rye Whiskey will still mean Canadian.

But you'll know better. And that makes you ready to join the Ryevolution. Why not start by mixing a Rye Manhattan or an Old Fashioned?


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