Understanding the Differences Between Bourbon and Rye

Bourbon and rye are popular staples in most bars, and there is a good chance your bartender has experience mixing up a variety of cocktails with each. These two spirits are similar and are both extremely popular in North America. However, they do have differences and generally shouldn’t be used interchangeably. Here is what you need to know.

Bourbon and rye are both forms of whiskey.

Whiskey is made from mixing fermented grains, called a mash bill, to water, which is then heated to create sugars that ultimately create alcohol. The mash is then separated from the liquid, and the liquid is aged in wood casks. Within this process, there are several variations, from the types of grains that are used to the type of casks and length of the aging process. Scotch, Irish whiskey, bourbon, and rye all fall into this category, but all have different flavors.

Bourbon and rye have different mash bills.

To be bourbon, the mash bill has to be made up of at least 51% corn, while the mash bill for rye has to be 51% rye. Within those characteristics, the mash bill can vary greatly, from just making the cut to being almost completely corn or rye. In both cases, the whiskey must be aged for at least two years to be considered to be “straight.” In the case of bourbon, it must be made in the US to be called bourbon.

Different tastes appeal to different drinkers.

Bourbon is generally considered to be easier to drink than rye, because it has a sweeter flavor. Many classic cocktails that are now made with bourbon, such as a Manhattan, were originally created to be made with rye but have evolved for easier drinking.

At Professional Bartenders Unlimited, our experienced team of bartenders can help you stock the bar for your party with the perfect drinks for your guests. Talk to us today about your needs for a professional bartender in Tucson by calling (520) 721-1571.