Understanding Your Whisk(e)y, Bourbon and Rye with Ward III

In Food and Drinks by Max Twitty

Since our first Gents Night Out at Ward III, we’ve been back every Monday to toast, taste whiskey and catch up on what happened over the weekend. Located in Tribeca, the premiere whiskey bar is known for their broad knowledge on everything from Whisk(e)y, to Bourdon, to Rye.

We sat with Ward III’s co-proprietor Kenneth McCoy, who also helps run The Rum House (one of the best cocktail bars in Times Square), over a few drinks to pick his brain on the difference between the three American Made spirits at Ward III. As the expert, we sat back and let Mr. McCoy enlighten us.

monkey-shoulder-scotch-whiskeyThe process for making Whisk(e)y entails distilling from a malted grain: rye, corn or barley. Whisk(e)y for me is a lot like beer in that both are made from many similar ingredients – grain, water and yeast – so really beer is basically un-distilled whisk(e)y. The variation of grains, proportions and methods employed in making whisk(e)y, as well as the maturation and distilling, the type of wood, barrel and aging all play a significant role in making each product distinct. Monkey Shoulder $30 via Binnys

knobcreekBourbon is 51% corn by law and usually contains 70% to 90% corn, rye, barley or wheat in the mash bill, and must be aged in new American white oak barrels for a two-year minimum. A defining characteristic of bourbon is wood. You can taste it. Knob Creek $30 via BevMo!

templeton-rye

Rye is a mash bill of no less than 51% rye (of course), some corn, and or barley. Like bourbon, Rye also must go through a two-year minimum aging process in American new charred oak barrels. A defining characteristic for rye is spice, which can come from the char found in the barrels. Templeton Rye $40 via Drink Up NY

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A few things folks, older age statements are not always better and price isn’t necessarily an indicator of quality. Just because something costs a lot doesn’t mean it’s better. Some of the recent craze over older and rare whiskies can be a bit silly. At the end of the day for me it’s all about personal palate. I know what I like and I’m sure you’ll figure it out as well, but I will leave you with one suggestion: Black Maple Hill 23 year Old Rye, if you can get your hands on it, BUY! Black Maple Hill 23 yr Old Rye $119 via K&L Wine Merchants