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Issue 72 - Two Rs of education

Whisky Magazine Issue 72
June 2008


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Two Rs of education

In the latest in our series looking at whisky terms we look at the letters Q and R,and in particular rye whiskey and reflux.

RYE WHISKEY If there is any confusion as to exactly what rye whiskey is, it is probably because it's a term used to describe two very different products.

Canadian whisky, which still enjoys a high level of popularity across the world even though it hasn't been considered fashionable for some years,was traditionally referred to by the generic term ‘rye' as in ‘rye and ginger' and the like. Once upon a time rye was a prominent ingredient in Canadian whisky but in the modern era the country has been known for its blends,and while several (and sometimes many) different rye whiskies feature in their make up, rye is not a dominant flavour component.

Indeed,Canadian blended whisky is often noted for its smooth and rounded characteristics.

American rye whiskey, on the other hand, is at the other end of the flavour scale.

Once the dominant whiskey style in some parts of the United States,American rye fell out of favour and almost disappeared altogether.But the renewed interest in whisky styles has seen rye enjoy a renaissance.

Rye is a grain related to both barley and wheat.An American rye whiskey must by law contain at least 51 per cent rye but like corn in bourbon, the percentage is normally considerably higher.The rest of the mashbill is normally made up of corn and malted barley, and the production of the whiskey is pretty much bound by the same sort of stringent regulations that apply to bourbon.

Rye whiskey has a distinctive full, spicy and intense flavour.


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