Return to site

Kenny Alan Herold of Minnesota Discusses the Differences Between Bourbon, Rye, and Scotch Whiskeys

WHITE BEAR LAKE, MN, UNITED STATES, April 23, 2021 / -- With the rise of craft cocktails and local distilleries, dark liquors like whiskey are seeing a resurgence in popularity. The Old Fashioned and the Manhattan are once again becoming household names with the rise in whiskey. 

Kenny Alan Herold of Minnesota Discusses the Differences Between Bourbon, Rye, and Scotch WhiskeysBut what type of whiskey should you be using in these born-again classics? Bourbon, rye, scotch...what are the actual differences, and can they be used interchangeably? Kenny Alan Herold of Minnesota, the whiskey enthusiast, explains.

What Is Whisk(e)y? Whiskey--with or without the “e”--refers to several types of distilled liquors made from the fermented mash of grains and aged in (usually) oak barrels or containers. The grains most commonly used to make whiskey are wheat, rye, barley malt, and corn.

The difference between “whisky” and “whiskey” is a geographical one, says Kenny Alan Herold of Minnesota. When the liquor is made in America or Ireland, it is spelled “whiskey”. If it is made in Canada, Scotland, or Japan, the spelling cuts out the “e”--“whisky”.

How to Tell Bourbon from Rye from Scotch According to Kenny Alan Herold of Minnesota While they have a very similar coloring--a sort of dark red-brown liquid-- bourbon, scotch, and rye are all very different liquors, explains Kenny Alan Herold. While they all technically fall under the category of “whiskey”, they are made with different processes and from different grains. But they also share similarities as a family of liquors. Bourbon is a whiskey that originated in an area once known as “Old Bourbon”, Kentucky. 

To be considered a true bourbon, there are several requirements that must be met. Firstly, the liquor must be made from corn. More specifically, the mash for bourbon is made with at least 51% corn. This is what gives bourbon its sweeter, caramel notes. Bourbon also must be stored in charred oak barrels (or similar charred oak containers) and may contain no additive ingredients. There are actually laws dictating the definition of bourbon, says Kenny Alan Herold of Minnesota. It must meet all of the above requirements and it has to be made in the United States. 

Contrary to popular myth, it does not have to be made in Kentucky to be called “bourbon”. Rye, on the other hand, is a whiskey made either in Canada or the United States. In the U.S. rye must be made from at least 51% rye and be aged no longer than two years to qualify as an official “rye.” Being made from rye wheat is what gives the liquor that “bite” it’s famous for.

Canadian rye, on the other hand, has no such distinction required by law, so sometimes labeled “rye” whiskey doesn’t even contain rye! Rye used to be the most popular whiskey in America. 

Then in the 1930s, our country experienced a “corn boom” and bourbon was much cheaper and easier to make and distribute. And last--but certainly not least!--we have scotch. Scotch whiskey must be made in (you guessed it!) Scotland to earn the name. It is also required that scotch is aged at least three years in its barrel or cask. 

The number you see on a bottle of scotch directly below the brand is usually how many years it’s been aged. Scotch is almost always made from malted barley, which gives it a less sweet, earthy taste. “Peaty” is how people refer to the smokey, earthy aftertaste, says Kenny Alan Herold of Minnesota.

All Posts

Almost done…

We just sent you an email. Please click the link in the email to confirm your subscription!

OKSubscriptions powered by Strikingly