Rye Not? How to Compare High and Low Rye Bourbon Mash Bills

It is often necessary to substitute bourbon when mixing a drink. But as even the most casual whiskey drinker knows, you can’t just grab a bottle and expect the drink you’re mixing to taste like the original. It is important to know the bourbon mash bills you’re replacing, so that you can find a similar replacement.

As you may know, Bulleit Bourbon is my go-to for mixing up my own creations. Bulleit has a distinctive mash bill consisting of 68% corn, 28% rye, and 4% malted barley1. This high rye content gives Bulleit a spicier profile compared to many bourbons on the market.

Higher Rye Content Bourbon Mash Bills

For those interested in exploring bourbons with higher rye content, beyond the spicy profile of Bulleit Bourbon, several options stand out for their unique flavor profiles and mash bills:

  • Four Roses Single Barrel: Offers a mash bill of 60% corn and 35% rye, increasing the spiciness relative to Bulleit.2
  • Old Grandad Bottled in Bond: Known for its higher rye content of 27%, it sits on the higher end of the rye spectrum and offers a spicier profile.3
  • Redemption High Rye Bourbon: Known for its significant rye content of 36%, offering a balance of sweet and spicy rye spice flavors.4
  • Hirsch The Horizon Bourbon: Blends traditional bourbon and high-rye bourbon for a spicy, warming whiskey with notes of cinnamon, brown sugar, and oak.5
  • Rabbit Hole Heigold: With a mash bill of 70% corn, 25% rye, and 5% malted barley, this bourbon delivers sweet toffee and candied orange peel flavors, with a hint of warming, peppery rye spice.6

Lower Rye Content Mash Bills

However, for those preferring bourbons with a lower rye content, looking for a sweeter and more mellow experience, consider these options:

  • Wild Turkey: It has a mash bill of 75% corn, 13% rye, and 12% barley, making it a bit sweeter with less rye spiciness.7
  • Jim Beam: Features a mash bill of 75% corn, 13% rye, and 12% barley, similar to Wild Turkey, but with its own unique profile due to differences in production and aging processes.8
  • Old Forester 100 Bourbon: Offers a balance of caramel apples, cinnamon, baking spices, and a right amount of peppery spice.9
  • Four Roses Small Batch Bourbon: A mellow, sweet sipper matured in new, charred American oak cask for between six and seven years, resulting in a smooth whiskey with dried fruits and a slight peppery spice.10
  • Bulleit 10-Year Bourbon: An aged variant of Bulleit, known for pronounced flavors of toasted vanilla beans, dried cherries, caramel, and a slight peppery rye finish.11

When selecting a bourbon, the rye content can significantly influence the flavor profile, with higher rye content bourbons offering more spice and heat, while lower rye content provides a sweeter, more mellow taste. Your preference for spice versus sweetness will guide which of these bourbons might best suit your palate.

These selections cover a range of flavors and intensities, providing options for bourbon enthusiasts to explore different profiles within the high and lower rye content categories. Whether you’re drawn to the boldness and spice of high rye bourbons or prefer the sweeter, more mellow flavors of lower rye options, there’s a bourbon out there to suit your taste.

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bulleit_Bourbon ↩︎
  2. https://modernthirst.com/home/bourbon-whiskey-mash-bills/ ↩︎
  3. https://www.whiskeyraw.com/blog/mash-bill-cheat-sheets ↩︎
  4. https://liquorlaboratory.com/best-high-rye-bourbon/, https://gearmoose.com/best-high-rye-bourbons/ ↩︎
  5. https://gearmoose.com/best-high-rye-bourbons/ ↩︎
  6. https://gearmoose.com/best-high-rye-bourbons/ ↩︎
  7. https://www.whiskeyraw.com/blog/mash-bill-cheat-sheets ↩︎
  8. https://www.whiskeyraw.com/blog/mash-bill-cheat-sheets ↩︎
  9. https://gearmoose.com/best-high-rye-bourbons/ ↩︎
  10. https://gearmoose.com/best-high-rye-bourbons/ ↩︎
  11. https://gearmoose.com/best-high-rye-bourbons/ ↩︎
Bob Sawyer


Hi! I’m Bob!

If it’s got bourbon in it, I’m drinking it. And if it’s really good, I’m gonna figure out how to make it, and share it with you. Because I’m good like that.


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