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Thread: Wheat vs. Rye

  1. #1
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    Question Wheat vs. Rye

    What are the differences between wheat and rye bourbon? What are some of each that you would suggest? Once and for all, I'd like to have a good explanation of this. If there's already a thread, just direct me to it.

  2. #2
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    Re: Wheat vs. Rye

    This may be a start.

    What to suggest...

    wheat:
    Weller 107 and 12yo
    Old Fitz BIB and 12yo

    Rye:
    High Rye: OGD 114, Basil Hayden
    Low Rye: Buffalo Trace, Eagle Rare SB, Stagg
    Other Rye: Elijah Craig 12, 1792, Bakers....this is a long list actually

    Also you may want to try Bernhiem, which is a wheat whiskey and a rye whiskey side by side. I'd go with Sazerac or Rittenhouse.
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  3. #3
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    Re: Wheat vs. Rye

    Consider bourbon to be liquid bread. If you have had wheat and rye bread, then you already know the difference.
    Even if every distiller used the same recipe, the bourbon would turn out differently. All are great, some better than others. So, try all the bourbons you can.....and don't worry about the particular qualities of the grains. You will figure out which are better for you in the long run.
    Jeff Mo.

  4. #4
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    Re: Wheat vs. Rye

    Quote Originally Posted by mozilla View Post
    Consider bourbon to be liquid bread. If you have had wheat and rye bread, then you already know the difference.
    Even if every distiller used the same recipe, the bourbon would turn out differently. All are great, some better than others. So, try all the bourbons you can.....and don't worry about the particular qualities of the grains. You will figure out which are better for you in the long run.
    Jeff Mo.
    Jeff's right. Sample all that you can. I personally dislike Rye bread but like some Rye Whiskey's (Saz Jr., Rittenhouse). I tend to lean toward sweeter wheated bourbons but don't limit myself to just those.

    So, in a wheat based bourbon you will typically find a sweeter palate, lighter nose

    In Rye based bourbons you will typically find spicy palate, stronger nose

    If course this is extremely simplistic but you get the idea. Proof, age, level of char all factor into the color, nose and taste.
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  5. #5
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    Re: Wheat vs. Rye

    If you taste WT 101 up against WT Rye It'll help you suss out rye's influence on ryed bourbon. Then taste a typical wheater like Weller Antique and all will be revealed.

  6. #6
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    Re: Wheat vs. Rye

    Keeping it simple: Sweet vs Spicey

    Dawn

  7. #7
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    Re: Wheat vs. Rye

    Less simple: I've noticed some wheaters (like PVW 15, or ORVW 15) that have quite a spicy character to them. Even then, though, there's a certain mellowness in wheaters that is quite different from similarly-aged rye-based bourbons.
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  8. #8
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    Re: Wheat vs. Rye

    All of the answers above are correct, but No Chaser may be looking for something even more fundamental.

    All bourbons are mostly corn and they all contain a little barley malt, to cause saccarification. The rest is what's called a flavor grain, which can be as little as 8% and as much as 30% of the mash. The most common bourbon flavor grain is rye and the most popular alternative is wheat.

    They're there for flavor and each flavors the drink a little differently.

    Rye-recipe bourbons and wheat-recipe bourbons should not be confused with straight rye whiskey or straight wheat whiskey, which have either rye or wheat as the principal grain.

  9. #9
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    Re: Wheat vs. Rye

    Chuck,
    Funny you mention this saccarification process. I have recently been reading about Irish Whiskey and Scotch production both of which seem to rely much more on Malted Barley. I went back to your book and read about the addition of Malted Barley to the mash, and you say it does not add significantly to the flavor, is that because so little is used? Can corn or wheat be malted to achieve the same chemical reaction? Are there Bourbons which use more malted barley than another to effect flavor?

    Todd

  10. #10
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    Re: Wheat vs. Rye

    I thought Chuck wouldn't mind if I give my own thoughts on this.

    Corn and wheat, and any grain, can be malted. However, the process is trickier than with barley. Experience has shown the best results are achieved by combining unmalted corn and rye (or wheat) with a small amount of malted barley whose enzymes are able to convert the starches in the hydrolized corn and wheat/rye to fermentable sugars. Enzyme can be added "chemically", and in fact under the Canadian definition of whisky, this is allowed, i.e., as an alternative to use of malted barley to provide the requited diastasic action.

    Does barley lend flavor? Without a doubt (as one can see by comparing Scots or Irish malt whiskies to grain whisky or blended whiskies).

    In the 1960's, Charlie Thomasson, an old-time practical distiller, bemoaned the tendency in modern U.S. bourbon production to stint on barley malt due to its cost.

    I think increased barley malt lends additional body and flavor to whisky.

    This can be demonstrated after a fashion by adding some non-peated malt whisky to any bourbon.

    Last night I sampled a 12 year old Tamnavulin; this would be ideal for the purpose.

    Gary

 

 

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