As you may know, crafting the perfect cocktail is a science as much as it is an art. The same goes for the core of the entire spirit distillation process: the whiskey mash. This is where the whiskeys that you know and love derive many of their distinct notes of flavor. Whiskeys are also differenciated based on a percentage-based makeup of their mash bill.
Whether or not you have put thought behind the whiskey you are putting back, we’re here to explain the difference between bourbon, rye, wheated, single malt, and so on. What’s even better is we will let you know where you can pick up a bottle and taste-test them all along The Trail.
BOURBON MASH BILL RECIPES
All whiskeys are made from grains, but certain styles of whiskey require a particular grain percentage recipe. For example, bourbon mash bills require at least 51% corn. Most bourbon makers use a mash bill recipe made from 60-70% corn, accompanied by rye and malted barley. Rye is considered to be the flavoring grain here with malted barley playing a small supporting role.
However, if a maker decides to swap wheat for the rye in their bourbon, they’ve made a wheated-bourbon. Wheated-bourbons are typically softer and rounder, and the wheat grain brings a cracker-like taste.
If rye comprises 18% or more of the bourbon mash bill, then it’s considered to be a high-rye bourbon. Fans of high-rye bourbon appreciate its hearty and spicy profile.
Wheated-bourbon along the Trail:
Wigle Whiskey’s wheated organic Pennsylvania Bourbon is made from regional organic yellow dent corn, regional organic soft winter wheat, and organic malted barley. This Bourbon is exceptionally sweet on the nose with a pleasant brown sugar note.
RYE MASH BILL RECIPES
Now let’s take what we just learned and apply it to rye. To be classified as rye whiskey in the U.S., a mash of 51% rye is required. Many established rye brands opt for the bare minimum or just slightly more, but select brands, such as Dad’s Hat Straight Rye, are making “high-rye” rye whiskeys and use 70% or more rye.
More Rye Along the Trail:
Sagamore Spirits has a prestigious collection of Straight Rye Whiskeys including their Bottled in Bond Straight Rye. Featuring their first batch of whiskey distilled in Maryland, this 100-proof rye whiskey is a blend of two rye mash bills-a high rye and a low rye-showcasing flavors of rye spice from our grain, fruit and floral notes from our sour mash fermentation, and aged notes of toasty caramel.
OTHER MASH BILL RECIPES
Currently, malt whiskey in the U.S. requires 51% malted grain of any type. However, the American Single Malt Whiskey Commission and Alcohol and Tobacco TTB have proposed that standards be raised. This would require that in order to be classified as an American Single Malt Whiskey, the spirit must be distilled entirely at one U.S. distillery, and must be mashed, distilled, aged in the United States. 100% malted barley would also be the required mash bill used for this proposed style.
Protecting the trueness of American Single Malt Whiskey only makes sense considering the mothers of the Americanized spirit, Single Malt Scotch and Irish Single Malt Whiskey, adhere to an equivalent protocol.
American Single Malt Whiskey Along the Trail:
Old Line Spirit’s American Single Malt Whiskey is made from 100% malted barley and is aged in charred, new white oak casks, which impart essences of caramel, honey, and vanilla that complement the malt flavor. This whiskey sips very well neat and makes a great cocktail.
CHECK OUT THIS UNIQUE MASH ALONG THE TRAIL
Liberty Pole Spirit’s Roasted Malt Rye comes in at 63% rye with the other remaining 37% being a combination of malted rye and barley roasted to differing levels. The roasting process creates a darker colored malt that smells and tastes nutty, biscuity, and chocolately, with a coffee-like allusion. This one won’t be available just yet, as it will still take a couple more years to age, but you can fully expect the distinct flavors to be more than present in the final whiskey.
Keep up with @libertypolespirits on Instagram.
Now that you’ve got the mash bill recipes down, it’s time for you to go out there and start tasting! Shop our Whiskey tasting passes and save when you visit a distillery, purchase a bottle, and sip on cocktails.