What is the Difference Between Bourbon and Whiskey – With Derby season here we’re rekindling our bond with whiskey, but do we have idea what kind we’re drinking?
Possibly not, says new information from Drexel University, which can include this month’s Journal of Food Science. The learning asked research subjects to “smell test” the main difference between bourbon and rye, and, *spoiler alert* participants would not tell the difference.
Jacob Lahne, PhD, an assistant professor in the Center for Hospitality and Sport Management, wrote in the research results:
“There is certainly a tendency for bartenders to share with you how some drinks should absolutely be made with bourbon or rye, and I’m sure it’s clear now that you have more flexibility,” Lahne said. “Somehow it’s fun and exciting—it offers you a more impressive universe to try out with.” Although, since Lahne is actually a food scientist and an excellent mixologist we are able to already hear the growing rumble of bartenders taking problem with that statement.
The learning would be a blind sorting task of American ryes and bourbons. While in the research, 21 subjects ingested trays of 10 whiskeys, an unmarked mixture of ryes and bourbons in random order, and were inspired to group them, by any criteria they wanted. These people were expected to smell the whiskeys and not taste them.
The effect: People wouldn’t differentiate their whiskeys depending on whether they were bourbon or rye, but depending on age, brand, or alcohol content.
That is definitely right on target as to what we can expect for any whiskey blind sniffing, says one expert. “As an gent who has done an affordable amount of blind tasting, it should not be stressed enough that visual cues and marketing tactics weigh heavily on how you perceive spirits,” says Kevin Denton, National Mixologist for Pernod Ricard. “Together with the ever-diversifying field of American whiskeys of varying ages, wood finishes, and mashbills, I can see how this studies is inconclusive. Most people in the US are not whiskey drinkers until recently.”
Americans’relatively relocate to whiskey his or her drink usually chosen means that many palates just aren’t experienced enough to find out the differences, as outlined by Joaquin Simo, bartender and co-owner of Pouring Ribbons in New York City. “I might agree that for most those who find themselves not used to drinking neat spirits (especially in the analytic or critical manner), the distinctions between many common bourbon and rye mashbills will be lost. Most rye whiskies expressed by the large guys (Wild Turkey, Rittenhouse, Old Overholt) are at 51% rye, and so the differences are less apparent unless you know what to search for. Itrrrs this that happens as customer tastes shift over time, and also a side effects of your homogenization of mashbills as historic brands are traded in between larger conglomerates.”
So, the next occasion someone next for you on the bar is waxing rhapsodic about the bourbon into their Old Fashioned, just smile and nod. They can have no idea what they’re talking about.