The Next Big Thing in Whiskey: Rye Posted by: Aaron Stearns | 0 Comments
In a classic old-is-new-again twist of cyclical fate, rye whiskey is making a comeback. For those who don’t know, whiskey is typically made with corn, and to call something “bourbon” means following even more stringent rules.
But it’s perfectly acceptable for something made with rye and fermented, distilled and aged in a barrel for a set amount of time, to be called “whiskey.” Furthermore, rye whiskey is what George Washington used to brew, and who can argue with that venerable old figurehead? According to an NPR story, rye whiskey has a different flavor profile.
Rye lovers say the whiskey is spicier, edgier and less sweet than bourbon, which is made of corn. But few studies have actually looked at what makes American whiskeys unique — how fermenting rye versus corn changes the taste, aroma and mouth feel of the spirit.
Though rye whiskey must be made with at least 51 percent rye — and bourbon with at least 51 percent corn — other grains may round out the mixture. As you might expect, whiskeys made with 100 percent rye don’t tend to be as sweet as those with 100 percent corn.
“When I taste 100 percent corn bourbon, it tastes like Halloween candy corn. It’s super sweet, with almost a caramel-type flavor,” says Scott Harris of Catoctin Creek Distillery in Purcellville, Va. “With a whiskey that’s 100 percent rye, there’s not as much upfront sweetness. And there’s a white pepper note at the end that really distinguishes rye from corn.”
So, in essence, what’s old is new again, and in the end, our taste buds benefit. We’ll raise a glass to that.
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