Different American types of whiskey unlike for example Scotch are usually made from 3 types of grain Corn, Rye and Malted Barley. Some distilleries can also use wheat and some less known other grains. This combination of grains is different for each brand and style of whiskey which gives it a specific taste. Let’s take a look what each of the grains represents in terms of the taste profile.
Corn (Maize) – As well as helping to yield the higher amount of alcohol. Corn gives a whiskey
its distinctive sweetness.
Rye – This is where whiskey obtains its powerful flavour with a peppery, spicy and dry taste profile.
Malted Barley – Helps to marry all the flavours together and contributing to the final spirit with its rich maltiness.
Wheat – It gives a whiskey additional creaminess on the palate.
Straight Whiskey – It’s a whiskey that was distilled to not more than 80% ABV. It has been aged for a minimum of two years and has not been blended with any other spirits, colourings, or additives. When whiskey meets all of the above criteria then the name “straight” is added to a type of whiskey. So for example, Straight Rye Whiskey.
Blended Whiskey – For the blended whiskey to be labelled with a particular grain type (rye, bourbon) then at least 51% of the blend must be straight whiskey of that grain type.
Bourbon is defined by high corn content and its ageing process.
It can be any whiskey which is made from at least 51% of corn and produced in the USA where the Kentucky is the county where production of Bourbon originated. In terms of ageing, it has to be aged in brand new charred oak barrels for at least two years. Almost all bourbon is blended from different casks but there are obviously exceptions to that.
Bourbon is typically fuller bodied rich and sweet taste.
Made from at least 51% of rye grain and it has typically spicier and sharper taste. Rye the same as a bourbon has to be aged in a new charred barrel for at least two years.
Rye can be mixed with another neutral spirit. It’s a heavier bodied whiskey that has spicier, bittersweet character.
Straight whiskey which is similar to Bourbon but slightly sweeter because it’s maple charcoal filtered with smooth and mild flavours containing at least 51% of single grain typically corn and aged for at least two years in oak barrels.