PDA

View Full Version : Bourbon versus rye question



Ghoste
10-12-2004, 10:38
I'm sure it's on here somewhere else but if you'll indulge a newbie. I'm curious as to the differences between bourbon and rye whiskey. Not taste, I'm well aware of those. I mean the actual difference in the way each is made?

bobbyc
10-12-2004, 10:57
Bourbon is primarily 51% or more of corn with the balance of small grains, and Rye is 51% or more of rye. And now looking at that I'm wondering if or why hasn't someone distilled a mash of 51% or more of wheat.

Ghoste
10-12-2004, 11:17
Well, this is why I asked. My father is a rye drinker and on the weekend as we each enjoyed our respective cordials, my mother asked the difference. I said basically what you said and my insisted that in spite of the names and common held conception, that rye actually had more corn than bourbon and bourbon was distilled mainly from rye and other grains.

Gillman
10-12-2004, 11:53
No, as Bobby said, bourbon is distilled from at least 51% corn and other grains.

Canadian "rye whisky" is made mainly from corn. There are exceptions, e.g., Alberta Distillers whisky is made from rye plus barley malt. U.S. straight rye whiskey is always made mostly from rye (at least 51% of the mash must be rye).

Canadian vs. American ryes are two different animals. Even Alberta Distillers' rye is not like American rye in material respects. There are many threads which explain this difference.

Gary

boone
10-12-2004, 12:49
I went to my records to look at Uncle Everett's mashbill for Rye Whiskey...

He wrote" For RYE...31% CORN, 57% RYE and 12% MALT http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif

http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif Bettye Jo http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif

cowdery
10-12-2004, 12:52
I'm sure Uncle Everett would do nothing to run afoul of the law, but federal law requires rye whiskey to be at least 51 percent rye. One difference, though, is that unlike bourbon, where corn is typically 70-75 percent of the mash, the share of rye in a rye whiskey mash is typically 60 percent or less.

clayton
10-12-2004, 12:56
I think Betty Jo meant (added line breaks for clarity):

For RYE...
31% CORN
57% RYE
12% MALT

cowdery
10-12-2004, 13:01
Thanks. I really should open my eyes when I read.

Even better, it supports my point that a bourbon recipe and a rye recipe usually are not parallel, with proportions of corn and rye simply reversed. A typical bourbon recipe is mostly corn with a dollup of rye, while a rye recipe stays pretty close to the legal minimum.

boone
10-12-2004, 13:02
You are right http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif I should have broke it apart http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif

I will leave my post "as is" so folks can see what I did http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/lol.gif

http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif Bettye Jo http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif

Ghoste
10-12-2004, 14:31
Thanks. That helps and I should have also mentioned that it was Canadian whiskey Pops was talking about.
As an afterthought, what would be a better quality American rye to try for comparison's sake?

clayton
10-12-2004, 15:24
My favorite rye is the Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye, 13 Years Old. It's got an incredibly rich palate, and the nose I get is primarily one of black cherries. Delicious. However, some people feel this isn't really representative of a typical "rye" flavor profile. It's very bourbon-like in character.

I've also enjoyed Wild Turkey Rye, which is evidently more traditional. On the other hand, I could not stand the Jim Beam Rye. If you lived nearby, I'd give you my bottle.

Sazerac will no doubt be recommended, but I haven't had the privilege to try that as yet.

wrbriggs
10-12-2004, 15:43
You're lucky to have access to that many. I can get one rye here, and it's the Beam yellow label rye.

Might be going to Canada soon - are there any ryes in duty-free that I should keep an eye out for?

cowdery
10-12-2004, 15:46
He's right about Canadian whiskey. As Gary says. More rye taste because of the way it's made, but less rye grain used.

For straight rye, I recommend Rittenhouse Bottled-in-Bond if you can find it.

cowdery
10-12-2004, 15:49
Everyone should try the Rittenhouse Rye Bottled-in-Bond, a Heaven Hill product. It's terrific and cheap. Demand that your liquor merchant get you some.

dgonano
10-12-2004, 15:52
I'm wondering if or why hasn't someone distilled a mash of 51% or more of wheat.






Bobby,
I believe it was done years ago and unless I'm mistaken, the federal laws that define bourbon and rye also define wheat whiskey as being at least 51% wheat.

Perhaps someone knows for sure but the time and effort needed to change production for a different mashing process probably isn't cost effective. Then you would have to market your product. One could call it "corned wheat".

cowdery
10-12-2004, 16:22
Apparently there was such a thing as straight wheat whiskey at one time, because why else would it be defined in the federal regulations? They do not, for example, include a definition for straight oat whiskey or straight rice whiskey. It isn't that difficult to change mash formulas, because distilleries do it all the time. Buffalo Trace makes five different formulas, Jim Beam makes three, so does Heaven Hill. Four Roses uses two different mash bills but five different yeasts, so effectively ten different formulas.

The only thing I know about straight wheat that would be different than straight rye is that wheat, for some reason, cannot be cooked under pressure. This is also true of wheated bourbons, so plenty of distilleries have non-pressurized cookers.

All of the distilleries have three grain hoppers feeding into their cookers. Distilleries like Buffalo Trace and Heaven Hill, that make both rye-flavored and wheat-flavored bourbons switch between rye and wheat in that hopper. Changing the proportions is no problem, since most distilleries (Beam, BT, Four Roses, Barton, Heaven Hill, Wild Turkey) make straight rye. They could just as easily make straight wheat.

I think it's purely a marketing question. Will we ever see it? I'll bet some of BT's experiments are straight wheat whiskey.

Ghoste
10-15-2004, 10:30
Might be going to Canada soon - are there any ryes in duty-free that I should keep an eye out for?



Well, the old standards are Crown Royal or Canadian Club.

wrbriggs
10-15-2004, 10:52
Well, the old standards are Crown Royal or Canadian Club.


Ah, perhaps I should clarify - I am hoping to find some American-style rye whiskies, made with greater than 51% of the mash bill being rye (at least, I believe that is the definition). I live in a control state, which sucks, but duty-free usually has a better selection (although I haven't been through since gaining an interest in whiskey), and I am only 1.5 hours from the Canadian border.

Ghoste
10-15-2004, 16:19
Ah, my mistake. It's quite possible that the duty free near your state will have different offerings than here anyway. I am about 50 miles from Detroit so it may have a more mid-west flavor here.