Rye and bourbon are two classic American styles of whiskey that are popular both neat and in a variety of cocktails. While they are both technically “whiskey” meaning that they are a spirit distilled from a mash of fermented grain, it’s the specific proportion of ingredients that make them unique:
- Bourbon must be produced in the U.S., made from a grain mixture that is at least 51% corn, and aged in charred new oak barrels. It has a slightly sweeter, full-bodied taste.
- Rye, primarily made in the U.S. (and also Canada), must be made from a grain mixture of at least 51% rye and is also aged in charred new oak barrels. It has a spicy, drier bite than bourbon.
Rye was a popular form of whiskey pre-Prohibition but largely died out after. Luckily, it’s making a comeback with the new interest in classic cocktails. If you’re a bourbon or scotch fan, grab a bottle of rye during your next trip to the store and give it a shot.