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Rye vs Bourbon


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Whiskey Willie

What are the basic taste/flavor differences bewteen rye and bourbon?

I currently drink JB Black and MM. Tastewise, how do these compare to the better rye whiskeys?

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What are the basic taste/flavor differences bewteen rye and bourbon?

I currently drink JB Black and MM. Tastewise, how do these compare to the better rye whiskeys?

Most bourbon are "ryes", too, in the sense that the flavoring 'small grain' is rye -- usually 20% to 38% or so of the mashbill, with corn the 'large' grain. Rye imparts a spiciness in both the nose and taste, as well as some floral/herbal sensations. So, in a straight rye -- which would have at least (almost exactly, in fact, in most cases) 51% rye -- those senses are magnified, while the sweetness of the corn is lessened.

Wheat, on the other hand, as in your Maker's Mark (and Old Fitzgerald, Rebel Yell, the Wellers, et al) has a softer, nuttier, sweeter sense to it.

Maker's Mark is a good representative for the 'wheater' genre, but the JB Black is only middle-of-the-road as a representative of rye-flavored bourbons. Try Wild Turkey 101 as a rye-based prototype bourbon, which also allows you to set it up alongside Wild Turkey rye so you can see the effect the additional rye has.

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Hedmans Brorsa

Apart from Tim´s description, I´ve always associated a sharp citrusey fruitiness with rye but maybe that´s wrong? :confused:

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I agree with these two- Rye has slightly spicier and yet fruity flavor to it. I love the stuff, personally, and I'm not a huge fan of rye-heavy bourbons. My advice to you is to get a bottle of Rye (JB and WT both make inexpensive ryes that I like, though WT would be the consensus pick of the two on this board), and give it a shot. If you don't like it very much, you can use it for Manhattans or Sazeracs.

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Whiskey Willie

Thanks for the feedback...

So it sounds like, to use a beer analogy, that rye whiskey (herbal, fruit) is to bourbon as pale ale (herbal, fruit) is to amber lager.

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elkdoggydog
Thanks for the feedback...

So it sounds like, to use a beer analogy, that rye whiskey (herbal, fruit) is to bourbon as pale ale (herbal, fruit) is to amber lager.

That sounds pretty good to me. Maybe IPA to Pale Ale instead, to account for similarity in style and ingredients, with a stronger emphasis on hops / rye and less on malt / wheat, but you've got the point. Rye is good stuff.

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Whiskey Willie

I bought a bottle of JB rye a couple of weeks ago and finally did some taste comparisons. Bourbons in the cabinet include JB white, JB black, MM, and EWSB 93.

JB white was given to me as a gift...It ain't my favorite. It's alcohol with little flavor. MM is by far the sweetest and has the longest finish, but I have to cut it a bit. JB black is not as sweet as MM, and tasting the JB rye (not as sweet) next to the black really illustrates the influence the mashbill has on the flavor of the whiskey.

What has really thrown me a curve is that, to my inexperienced taste buds, the EWSB 93 is closer in flavor to the JB rye than to the other bourbons. Has anybody else had this experience?

Next on the purchase list: WT101, WT rye, and Knob Creek...The adventure continues.

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