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Rye Whiskey

Overview

Published: 03/07/2011

by Whiskey.com

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Rye Whiskey

Not all rye whiskey is the same. There are two different types of rye whiskey, American rye whiskey and Canadian rye whiskey. Although they share a common name, the requirements and process of development of each product are unique.

American Rye Whiskey

American rye whiskey used to be the signature whiskey of the United States prior to prohibition. Today, rye whiskey is being appreciated within the U.S. for flavor and reliability in comeback numbers. American rye whiskey is regulated by standards set by the U.S. government. These current standards require that rye whiskey must be made of a mash that is comprised of no less than 51 percent rye grain. Corn and malted barley are generally used to make up the rest of this rye mash. By these same requirements, rye whiskey can be distilled to no more than 160 alcohol proof. Rye whiskey must then be aged for no less than two years in oak barrels that are new and charred. The mandates are particular and must be followed to every detail in order for the results of the process to qualify as rye whiskey in the United States.

An interesting fact about American rye whiskey is that only a select percentage of the rye whiskey produced is bottled and sold straight. The vast majority of American rye whiskey produced is used in industry production for blending into other whiskeys. This is because the spicy flavor of rye whiskey gives additional character and structure to other spirits.

Canadian Rye Whiskey

In contrast, Canadian rye whiskey has a totally different function in the beverage industry. Under Canadian law, there are no requirements for the content of rye whiskey or that rye grain be involved in the development of the end product whatsoever. Historically, Canadian whiskey has kept the title of rye whiskey for much of the whiskey industry. However, Canadian rye whiskey has evolved into different forms of grain and development that does not necessarily match the wording. There are a few different Canadian whiskeys that use 100 percent rye mash, but these are unique and hard to find. Also in contrast to the American rye whiskey, Canadian rye whiskey is required to be aged for a minimum of three years in wooden barrels to be labeled as such, but the barrels do not have to be new oak, nor even charred.

When people refer to rye whiskey, they are probably referring to the American counterpart because of the dedication to the actual rye grain. The Canadian rye whiskey name is more commonly used for nostalgic appeal to an original spirit ingredient. Rye whiskey is often identified as having a similar taste to bourbon, but is typically understood to be spicier. The rye grain also tends to release a more bitter taste then corn or wheat grains. Rye whiskey characterizes a lighter body, which gives it diversity of use as a straight whiskey or as a blended one. Although most often used in blends, the straight whiskey is also gaining popularity.

Types of Irish Whiskey

There are a few different types of native Irish whiskey that are most well known. These are Single Malt and Single Grain as well as the aforementioned Blended Irish whiskey. The Irish Whiskey Act does not define these distinctions clearly, so there can sometimes be some confusion as to what qualifies as a Single Malt or Single Grain, and what comprises each usually varies from distiller to distiller.

Irish Whiskey Distilleries

Ireland has four main distilleries that are the best places to see this whiskey being manufactured. These are the New Midleton Distillery (which produces one of the most famous Irish whiskey, Jamesons), Old Bushmills Distillery, Cooley Distillery and Kilbeggan Distillery. There are also several independent Irish whiskey companies, including the well-known Tullamore Dew.

Irish whiskey's smooth taste and incredible history make it wildly popular with drinkers all over the world. Whether at the source in the picturesque hills of Ireland or at a local liquor or specialty store, sampling the different types of Irish whiskey is the best way to determine favorite malts and ages to complement any drinking experience.