Difference Between Rye and Bourbon (With Table)

Whisky is a distilled alcohol that is created from grains and matured in oak barrels. Although rye whiskey and Bourbon are both popular whiskies, there are technical distinctions between them. Bourbon is a mellow-flavored American whiskey with a distinct physical appearance.

Whisky is a distilled alcohol that is created from grains and matured in oak barrels. Although rye whiskey and Bourbon are both popular whiskies, there are major technical distinctions between them. Bourbon is a mellow-flavored American whiskey with a distinct physical appearance.

Rye vs Bourbon

The difference between rye and bourbon is that the Rye whisky has a grassy, peppery flavor with a spicy aftertaste. Bourbon, on the other hand, has a sweeter, mellower caramel flavor. Rye whiskey is made from 51% distilled rye. Bourbon, on the other hand, is made out of at least 51% maize.

Rye whiskey comes in two varieties: American and Canadian. The taste of American Rye Whisky is similar to that of Bourbon whiskey. A rye mash is used to make rye whiskey. Various components, such as malted barley and maize, are also utilized. Typically, it is matured in charred oak barrels. This sort of whisky is spicier than other types of whisky, and it gives the drinks a dry taste.

Bourbon must contain at least 51% corn. Bourbon is mainly made from corn, but it also contains other fermented grains. Sweet corn, vanilla, caramel, honey, and other tastes can be found in bourbon. Bourbons are typically created in the United States, and when placed inside barrels to mature, they should have less than 62.5 percent alcohol. The whiskey is a brownish hue.

Comparison Table Between Rye and Bourbon

Parameters of Comparison  Rye Bourbon  
Flavor  The taste is spicy, robust, and smoky.The taste is sweeter and softer.
Main Ingredient  Rye  Corn  
Production  Made with a 51 percent rye mash bill.A 51 percent corn mash bill was used in the distillation process. 
Popular cocktails     Manhattan, Sazarac.   Old fashioned, mint julep.  
Aging process  Three years is the minimum requirement. Two years is the minimum requirement.
Colour  Lighter in ColorDarker in color
LocationManhattan, Sazarac.   Canada, U.S.A U.S.A  

What is Rye?

Rye whiskey is a strong spirit, mainly made from rye grains, with a pungent, full-bodied flavor. The main ingredient of this whisky, which has been produced since the colonial period, is rye. A minimum of 51 percent rye mash is used in the production of American Rye whiskey. Canadian whiskey, on the other hand, may or may not contain rye. It is not essential to blend rye with Canadian whiskey, according to Canadian rules.

Rye is a kind of grass that is linked to barley and wheat. Rye whiskey has a spicier, more assertive flavor. Vanilla and caramel notes will also be present in the rye. Depending on the mixing and mastering procedure, it can also give a variety of tastes. The declaration must be included on the label of a straight Rye. Depending on the brand, rye whiskey can also have a smoky or fruity flavor.

The primary identity of Rye whiskey is a peppery, spicy touch with every sip. Rye whiskey is always spicier than Bourbon whiskey. Rye whiskey has a smoky flavor from the burned oak barrels. Rye whiskey, drinks like the Manhattan and Sazarac are well-known. It gives the drinks a dry finish. The whiskey is filtered to a high degree before being stored in barrels.

What is Bourbon?

The term “bourbon” refers to a kind of American whiskey produced in the United States. Corn mash makes up 51% of the recipe. Bourbon is sweet in general, and it may have a range of flavors like caramel, vanilla, and others. The use of wheat in the grain blend gives the whiskey a smoother, softer texture.

Bourbon’s flowery flavor has made it popular outside of the southern United States. The mixture of raw components must be kept in the charred oak container during the whiskey-making process. There are usually no extra additives in it. The whiskey also derives its delicious smokey flavor from the maturing process in charred oak barrels.

Because it is made from corn, bourbon has a caramel-like taste. Whiskey Bourbon gets its name from the bourbon rural area of Kentucky, where it was born. Kentucky produces nearly all of the world’s Bourbon whiskey. Bourbon is without a doubt the most popular type of American whiskey, and it has been produced in the United States since the late 18th century.

Main Differences Between Rye and Bourbon

  1. Rye is the primary component of Rye whiskey. Bourbon, on the other hand, has maize as its primary component.
  2. Rye whiskey is manufactured with a minimum of 51 percent rye in the mash bill. Bourbon whiskey, on the other hand, is manufactured from 51 percent distilled maize mash.
  3. The taste of rye whiskey is peppery and dry. Bourbon, on the other hand, has a sweet and smooth caramel flavor.
  4. The Manhattan and the Sazarac are two well-known Rye whiskey drinks. Bourbon drinks include the Old Fashioned, the Mint Julep, and the Whiskey Sour.
  5. Oak, fruity, and smoky flavors are all present in rye whiskey. Butterscotch, toffee, vanilla, and other notes can be found in Bourbon.
  6. The hue of rye whiskey is a little lighter than that of bourbon.


The raw ingredients used to make the two varieties of whiskey are, for the most part, distinct. All whiskeys are made from a blend of fermented grains, such as rye, corn, wheat, and barley. We must not overlook the fact that water is one of the primary elements of whiskey. Both of the whiskey’s fermented mash bills are crushed and blended with water. Bourbon’s sweetness and suppleness complement any whiskey sour or summery cocktail.

If you want to make your cocktail a little sweeter, you can add some bourbon to make it suitable for any occasion. Rye has a flowery and aromatic flavor that can grow into a strong flavor on the palate. The flavor of whiskey is determined by the grain used and the method of distillation. The whiskey’s flavor can be influenced by the type of barrel used and the maturing method.


  1. https://www.academia.edu/download/55076939/The_Alcohol_Textbook-_4_Ed.pdf#page=278
  2. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/1750-3841.13301
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