For American whiskey, the grain mix that creates the spirit’s recipe is known as the mash bill. This is a unique terminology to the U.S. spirit and key component in the flavor profile creation.
Mash Bill = Whiskey Recipe. Got it.
In learning a whiskey’s mash bill, it can allow you to identify if you have a taste preference for a particular grain medley. Let’s look into Bourbon and Tennessee Whiskey as an example. Each of these whiskey classes are least 51% corn. So there is 49% of the mash bill to play with.
Do you prefer a high rye bourbon? How about high wheat bourbon? High corn bourbon?
I have no idea without a recipe book! Quit with the questions!!
Boom! To help your exploration find its course, below is a mash bill cheat sheet of some popular whiskies:
Jack Daniels: 80% Corn, 8% Rye,12% Barley
Old Forester: 72% Corn, 18% Rye, 10% Barley
Woodford Reserve: 72% Corn, 18% Rye, 10% Barley
Bulleit Bourbon: 68% Corn, 28% Rye, 4% Barley
George Dickel: 84% Corn, 8% Rye, 8% Barley
Elijah Craig: 78% Corn,10% Rye, 12% Barley
Jim Beam: 75% Corn, 13% Rye, 12% Barley
Bakers: 75% Corn, 13% Rye, 12% Barley
Knob Creek: 75% Corn, 13% Rye, 12% Barley
Old Grandad Bottled in Bond: 63% Corn, 27% Rye, 10% Barley
Wild Turkey: 75% Corn, 13% Rye, 12% Barley
Makers Mark: 70% Corn 16% Wheat, 14% Barley
Four Roses Single Barrel: 60% Corn, 35% Rye, 5% Barley
Most whiskies use three grains: corn, rye, barley. When comparing the mash bills, there are a few outliers. Makers Mark uses wheat in place of Rye. Thus, if you enjoy Marker’s you may prefer for a wheated bourbon. The whiskey with a rye content above 15% could be considered a high rye bourbon. If you enjoy Bulleit and Old Grandad the higher rye is likely pleasing to the palate. The popular Tennessee Whiskies, George Dickel and Jack Daniels, are high corn mash bill. If this is your drink of preference, the sweet notes of corn are hitting the sweet spot!
Finally, did you notice Jim Beam and Knob Creek have the same mash bill? They are made at the same distillery and aged in the same rick house. If you prefer one over the other, it is due to time in the oak barrel (Knob Creek is aged longer) and location in the rick house.
Boom! Another shot of knowledge!