Rye Isn't All That Spicy, Experts Say

Immediately, I thought of Heaven Hill’s bourbons, which have only 10 percent rye in the mashbill but come off as nicely spicy in the glass. Then Veach cited Old Fitzgerald, a wheated bourbon that has terrific spice notes despite having no rye.

Rye Isn't All That Spicy, Experts Say

I know it’s shocking, but something cool happened on Facebook the other day—something helpful, educational, mind-opening and brilliantly collaborative. 

Whiskey historian Michael Veach’s post on Facebook (once in it, you’ll need to scroll down a bit) linked to a blog he wrote and titled, “What is Rye Spice?” which centered on whether rye is the source of “spice” in bourbon and rye whiskeys.

Veach teed it up this way:

I frequently hear about rye grain giving Bourbon a spicy flavor, but I am not sure the spiciness of a whiskey necessarily comes from the rye grain. After all, if rye is the source of spice then why isn’t the 95% rye whiskey made at MGP, which is the source of many of the rye whiskeys on the market, not dominated by spicy flavors? These whiskeys should be very spicy due to the high amount of rye, but I don’t find them any spicier than many Bourbons with a third of the amount of rye.”