Father’s Day is here. Never mind that it’s a manufactured holiday, the dad-bods of the world deserve a little hoopla. But along with the festive streamers, skywriting and midlife-crisis psychotherapy, why not give ol’ dad a bottle of rye?
Rye is bourbon’s rougher-around-the-edges brother. The basic difference is simple: Bourbon has to be made in the U.S. and calls for a mash bill (the percentages of corn, wheat and rye used to make the spirit) that is at least 51 percent corn. In the U.S., rye must be at least 51 percent rye (in Canada it’s a different story, but the short version is that products labeled Canada Rye or Canada Rye Whiskey don’t require a minimum percentage of rye; odd but true).
The real difference for drinkers, though, is in the taste. Rye tends to be somewhat spicier, occasionally with a slightly fruity, citrus note; bourbon, to generalize, is somewhat sweeter and more rounded. But if you set a rye whiskey that’s made from 51 percent rye, 39 percent corn and 10 percent wheat next to a bourbon made from 51 percent corn, 39 percent rye and 10 percent wheat, they’re going to be pretty similar. So it really comes down to the decisions made by individual distillers.