Two Old Fashioned Cocktails - one made with Bourbon and one made with Rye Whiskey

Bourbon Vs Rye Whiskey: Which One Is Better For An Old Fashioned?

Whether to use Bourbon Whiskey or Rye Whiskey in an Old Fashioned cocktail has been a subject of debate for a long time. While both whiskeys can be used to make an Old Fashioned, the choice between bourbon and rye whiskey can significantly affect the flavor profile of the drink. So, which one is better for making an Old Fashioned?

Bourbon, with its sweeter, smoother profile, is ideal for a mellow and sweet Old Fashioned. This sweetness comes from the high corn content in bourbon’s mash bill. On the other hand, if you prefer a cocktail with a drier, spicier edge, rye whiskey is your go-to. Rye’s distinct spiciness adds a boldness to the Old Fashioned, complementing the bitters and sugar in the cocktail. Ultimately, the best choice depends on whether you want your drink to lean towards sweet and smooth or spicy and robust.

How To Make An Old Fashioned

To make an Old Fashioned, take an Old Fashioned glass and fill it with large ice. Pour in 0.5 ounces of simple syrup , 2-3 dashes of Angostura Bitters, and 2 ounces of bourbon or rye whiskey. Stir with a bar spoon for 15-20 seconds until chilled and well mixed. Next, express the oils from an orange twist over the drink and then drop it in the drink. Garnish with a maraschino cherry and serve. See Full Old Fashioned Recipe.

Bourbon Old Fashioned

If you prefer your Old Fashioned to be a mellow, sweet cocktail, then bourbon is the best whiskey to use. Bourbon whiskey is known for its smooth, rich profile, derived from the corn-heavy mash it’s made from. This corn content, which must be at least 51% by regulation, imparts a natural sweetness to bourbon, making it an ideal choice for those who enjoy a softer, more caramel-like flavor in their cocktails. The aging process in charred new oak barrels also contributes to bourbon’s vanilla and toasty notes, further enhancing its inherent sweetness.

Rye Whiskey Old Fashioned

Rye whiskey, characterized by its bold, spicy flavor, owes its distinctive taste to the rye grain, which must constitute at least 51% of its mash bill. This grain imparts a peppery and somewhat fruity profile, making it a great option for those who enjoy a cocktail with a bit more bite. The spiciness of rye whiskey complements the bitters and sugar used in the cocktail, creating a balanced and complex drink that’s both invigorating and warming.