Verdict: Mellow, Peppery
I hesitated a little bit adding a rye whiskey to this blog since someone is going to write to tell me that it’s not a bourbon, but this what I have in the cabinet at the moment so let’s roll with it. Rye is usually associated as the drink from the pre-prohibition days, but it has seen a resurgence lately with many bourbon distillers coming out with speciality batches of rye whiskey. This seems like it would be a natural extension for a distiller since the process of making rye is similar to that of making bourbon.
For the record, American rye whiskey is made from a mash of rye (technically at least 51 percent rye), while bourbon is made primarily of corn (also at least 51 percent). The taste is similar to bourbon and could be substituted for bourbon in mixed drinks, but it does have some noticeable distinctions.
Jim Beam Rye (80 proof) is aged for 4 years in charred oak barrels and carries a lighter color than you see with bourbons. It has a more peppery bite initially than its cousin, but the flavor tends to be a more mellow and not very complex. The finish is pleasant with a very slight burst of sweetness and oak. You may also get some maple on the tongue if your really reaching. While I didn’t love the taste, I didn’t hate it either. I definitely see how this bottle would fit into any well-stocked bar.
If you typically are a bourbon drinker, you will miss the bolder flavors – but don’t let that discourage you from trying it and appreciating the differences.