Knowing the difference

Whiskey vs. Bourbon

Rye Whiskey, America’s true native spirit

What’s The Difference Between Rye & Bourbon?

Bourbon, well is Bourbon. Lets discuss the main difference between Rye and Bourbon. There are many different assortments of rye whiskeys (or “rye’s,” depending on your pallet). There is rye, rye whisky, straight 100% rye, bonded rye, and even a malted rye. With so many types, it may become confusing.

Let’s dig into this subject.

Rye Whiskey is the true native spirit of these United States. Some say with Scottish Descendant others express Dutch to be its origin. Rye Whiskey was distilled as early as the 1600s and later produced by President George Washington on his famous Mount Vernon Estate. Rye Whiskey has the most profound connection with American history and patriots.

Both aged in American Oak Barrels

All Natural, no Additives

At Iowa Legendary Rye, we are proud of our distilling heritage and our 100% natural prohibition recipe. Let us take a moment to formally educate you more on this subject. With, what separates bourbon from rye whiskey.

While all rye whiskies must include 51% rye in their mash bill, Iowa Legendary Rye didn’t pull any punches in creating our old school prohibition-era rye, bringing the mash-bill up with a complete 100% rye mash. Although it remains harder to produce in large quantity’s. While the flavor profile with each bottle is amazing and smooth.

That traditional process lends it a equally classic flavor that makes for a perfect addition to cocktails and comes at a low purchase price-point.

ILR Rye’s standout flavor profile makes it a perfect addition for cocktails since it won’t get drowned out by other flavors.

It’s the law, but not always

The difference isn’t just interpretation

What is the interpretation of rye whiskey vs. bourbon? Let’s dig into that. Bourbon is a whiskey, but not all rye whiskeys are rye. By definition and law, rye whiskey has a strict set of standards from the U.S. Government that regulates the difference.

The U.S. federal law requires that all rye produced from a fermented mash of grain of at least 51% of its primary ingredient of rye. (The other elements in the mash are usually corn, wheat, or malted barley if turned into rye whiskey) aged two years or more in new charred oak containers.

The history of bourbon

Just a pinch of French

n is a type of whiskey, a barrel-aged distilled spirit made primarily from 51% corn. The name ultimately derives from the French Bourbon Dynasty. Bourbon began distillation in the United States in the 18th century.

“Bourbon has a French name, is made from a Native American crop, is fermented like German Beer, and is distilled and aged like Scotch Whisky.”

“Bourbon” was recognized in 1964 by the United States Congress as a “distinctive product of the United States.” Bourbon sold in the United States must be produced in the U.S……. from at least 51% corn and stored in new charred oak containers for at least 2-4 years.

Let’s break it down

The Ingredients

Rye Whiskey

Made in the United States of America
A fermented mash of 51% All-Natural Rye Mash
Distilled in small batches in 26-gallon custom-built stills for an authentic historically accurate Prohibition-era taste at no more than 160 proof.
It then spends 24 months aging in new 15-gallon charred white oak barrels.
Stored at no more than 125 proof in new charred white oak barrels.
Free from additives with no artificial flavors.


Made in the United States of America with its route from France.
A fermented mash of 51% corn at least.
Distilled at no more than 160 proof in 50-100 Gallon stills
Stored at no more than 125 proof in charred oak barrels.
Aged for a minimum of two years.

Because of this, all bourbon is not whiskey, and not all rye can be called rye whiskey.

Now you know where the government sits

What does it mean?

Rye whiskey must have at least 51% rye or more by U.S. law.

A 100% Straight rye is a delicate, much more complex process in the mashing stage. Thus, making the straight rye in a small batch is preferred when not adding additives or corn to the recipe.

But what’s the Proof?

When alcohol is distilled, it always derives off the still at a more significant proof. But the method also removes everything that isn’t alcohol from the liquor, including its flavor.

Therefore, this is why our rye vodka is essentially tasteless.

By carrying a maximum proof, rye whiskey and bourbon maintain more of the flavors from the mash than would be absent with a double or triple distilling process.

Richer with deeper tones

Charred Oak Barrels

Rye whiskey and bourbon whiskey carry some unique traits. Each utilizes a pre-prohibition Era barrel charring method in creating both products instead of toasted barrels or used barrels. This style grants a richer, more flavorful color with deep tones. Both come aged with charred new American white oak barrels. 

Rye carries an aroma that brings a mixture of spice, grain, and hints of floral sweetness. With a taste of slight spice surrounded by flavors of caramel, coconut, and vanilla and a finish that’s long with mild heat from its aging process.

While bourbon carries a soft caramel with a faint sweet corn taste, oak and vanilla notes linger in their depths.

full flavor results

Aged for at least 2 years

Rye and Bourbon Aging determine the taste, flavor, and mix of a quality spirit. Overall the longer it ages in a charred oak barrel, the more flavorful it becomes. The law states that a rye whiskey ages for at least two-four years, but time is only one constant determining how rye ages.
  • Un-aged White Whiskey – Sweet undertones with fruit, spicy zest, and a hint of rye.
  • Matured Whiskey: Doesn’t advance as much as grown rye, which turns out to be more unobtrusive while as yet pressing its protected punch.
  • Whiskey flavors Are simpler to endure as a result of their visual pleasantness and consistency.
  • Rye will, in general, have more extreme tastes that create a sense of taste.
  • Most of the color and flavor in aged spirits comes from aging spent in the casks.
  • While there is no viable alternative, many producers still try to get around this method to procure these spirits faster.
Rye Remains best for cocktails

Best mixed drinks

For Neat and straight drinks, both rye whiskey and bourbon, as you expect, are great tasting. But for your mixed drink favors with rye’s contrast of sorry and spicy, it adds a beautiful balance to cocktails.

White re or un-aged whiskey or moonshine, as others call it. It has replaced vodka in various cocktails around North America. Due to its smooth, mild heat and its neutral mixing tones. With a taste that’s more natural, less commercial distillation process.

Both of these titans in American history remain excellent choices but refine it down to who is the best. I would recommend the distillation process.

Traditionally rye and whiskey are made with small pot still or small batch. Today you will find that companies have leaned more towards the commercial style column still for mass production and higher alcohol by volume (ABV).

They are losing much of the flavor in the process and leaning more towards additives and the aging process in oak to give you back that flavor.

Drink Iowa Legendary Rye Small Batch Rye

Conclusion: when in uncertainty

Iowa Legendary Rye – Rye Vodka? White Rye? Private reserved red label or aged black babel Rye aged to perfection. It’s sunshine to your lips with every sip. Please don’t take our word for it. Try a bottle and see for yourself. Contact our distillery today and learn more about our reserved barrel sales.
Mixology 101

Mixology 101

The skill of rye whiskey mixology 101 is described as the research or ability to create, making, and offering liquors or cocktails. Many of the mixologist are bar staff, although not all bar staff are mixologist. Throughout, a mixologist seems to have an ambition for...

read more
Cocktail Measurement Devices

Cocktail Measurement Devices

Cocktail Measurement Devices Oz’s uses cocktail measurement devices in Oz’s. A Part is essentially a relative measurement and works for single beverages and numerous drinks. For instance, when the cocktail recipe calls for 1 Oz of part 1, and 2 Oz’s...

read more
Rye Whisky Trending in 2020

Rye Whisky Trending in 2020

Whiskey trends in 2020 - It is that time of year again when many of us are wondering what’s in store for us in the New Year. When it comes to the whiskey industry, it is not easy to tell. Will there be new trends, releases, and changes this year? Who knows? It is...

read more
Are you Brand Ambassador Material?

Are you Brand Ambassador Material?

Do you have what it takes to hang with some of the best of the Iowa Legendary Rye crew? Do you have a big network of people that love to have a good time? Like being the life of the party? You might be a great fit!Sign up to be a brand ambassador today! What is a...

read more
Top 10 Favorite Whiskey’s by Stanahans

Top 10 Favorite Whiskey’s by Stanahans

America’s whiskey game is still going strong. Despite the rise of Canadian whiskey, flavored whiskey, and Irish whiskey, U.S whiskey sales are continuously rising every year.With an increasing Historical Accurate Sales for the All-Natural Rye Spirits that used to be...

read more
Five ways to enjoy Iowa Legendary Rye

Five ways to enjoy Iowa Legendary Rye

This is an excerp from the Des Moines Register Rich Eggers allegedly has been making moonshine for years. Rumor has it, he learned the closely guarded recipe from his older brother, who was trained by a now-deceased, bootlegging neighbor who had been cooking whiskey...

read more