Shopping Cart

Whiskey 101 Primer

In a recent post, I talked about the subtle but important differences between Scotch single-malts and blends as well as Irish Whiskey. Now I’m going to share a bit of info about Rye Whiskey, Bourbon, Tennessee Whiskey and Canadian Whiskey.

Rye Whiskey most commonly uses wheat and barley as its main grains. Rye grain adds a slight bitterness and spiciness to Rye Whiskey. Bourbon is the closest cousin to Rye Whiskey except for this slight variation in the flavor profile.

Bourbon Whiskey - Don’t mess with Bourbon - it’s got the law on its side! Bourbon receives its name from Bourbon County, Kentucky and a 1964 Act of Congress mandates that it must be made from a mash containing at least 51% corn. This straight whiskey must then be distilled and aged a minimum of 2 years in new, charred oak barrels, which give it its signature, delectable flavor!

Tennessee Whiskey is most similar to Bourbon in that it too must be comprised of at least 51% of any one grain in its mash, and that grain is usually corn. Where it gets really interesting is in the filtration process used for Tennessee Whiskey. The whiskey slowly drips through 10 feet of sugar-maple charcoal and this process can take up to 2 weeks to complete for a single batch! The whiskey is then transferred to charred barrels for aging and its complexity of flavors is a distinction loved by people around the South!

Canadian Whiskey is the cocktail favorite because a good Canadian whiskey is light-bodied, versatile and very mixable. They’re made primarily of corn or wheat mash and often supplemented with rye, barley or barley malt. Canadian Whiskey is usually aged for 4-6 years and almost all Canadian Whiskey is a blend of various grain whiskeys of different ages. It’s the potpourri of Whiskey and it’s easy to drink and love.

I’ve shared this very simplified explanation of the differences in whiskeys to give the home distiller knowledge he or she can use to base their own whiskey blends on and to keep your creative and whiskey still juices flowing!

Posted by Jason Stone on

← Older Post Newer Post →


Leave a comment