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  • Barrell Craft Spirits



Bourbon and rye have a lot in common. But they’re not identical. Let’s recap the differences between the two. Bourbon has to be made from a mash of at least 51 percent corn. The other 49 percent can be anything. Often, a substantial amount of the remainder is rye, but wheat and malted barley are also common components.

American rye whiskey, on the other hand, must be made from a mash bill of at least 51 percent rye. The rest can be anything. Often, a substantial amount of it is corn and malted barley, with perhaps a bit of wheat.

The rest of the requirements–that it must be distilled in the United States to no higher than 160 proof, aged in new charred oak barrels at no higher than 125 proof, and bottled at no lower than 80 proof or 40 percent ABV–are the same. In other words, you could make a bourbon that’s 51% corn and 49% rye. Adjust those percentages just a tiny bit to 51% rye and 49% corn but keep everything else the same, and you’ll have made an American rye whiskey.

That fundamental similarity is part of the reason bourbon and rye flavor profiles can be so alike. Both have the classic flavors of charred American oak wooden casks like vanilla, toffee, baking spices, and coconut. Both types of whiskey usually have some corn-like sweetness, just as both usually show off the grassy, herbal, sometimes spicy character that comes from rye mash. Often, it’s a matter of degree, and it depends a lot on the type of bourbon or rye.

It’s important to remember that Canadian rye is quite different from American rye. Within Canada, “rye” is used as a kind of shorthand to refer to any whisky, including those that don’t contain rye at all. But it’s also used to refer to whiskies that do contain rye, with many of those same grassy and herbal characteristics. Really, it depends on the brand.

The best way to really find out what rye whiskey, bourbon, or any other spirit tastes like is to experience it for yourself. You can shop all of Barrell Craft Spirits’ bottlings on our website, including plenty of bourbon and rye as well as some of our signature blends (and the odd Irish whiskey). Some of our recent favorites? We’re so glad you asked.

The latest in our limited-edition small batch bourbon series, Barrell Bourbon Batch 032 is a blend of five, six, seven, and 10-year-old barrels of bourbon distilled and aged in Tennessee, Kentucky, and Indiana. With elements of tropical fruit, mature oak, and roasty cocoa and coffee bean, this bottling is multilayered and complex, with a rich oily texture and long, spiced finish.

Our award-winning Seagrass is a blend of American and Canadian rye whiskeys, with each ingredient finished separately in Martinique Rhum Agricole casks, apricot brandy casks, and Madeira barrels, then blended together. Tropical and orchard fruits are at the core, but they’re balanced with spicy, herbaceous and floral tones.

Our Gray Label series highlights choice casks from our warehouse. This elevated Seagrass bottling consists of two groups of Canadian whiskies, one citrus and fruit-forward and one earthy with spearmint notes. Portions were finished separately in Apricot brandy, Martinique rhum, and Malmsey Madeira barrels, then blended together to create a deeply mature yet fresh and vibrant rye whiskey.


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