gillmang wrote:Good news, Mike. That mashbill indeed is old, I have seen a recent reference in 1800's literature to it, but can't recall where just now. I find it interesting though that no one seems to want today to make the classic rye whiskey mashbill of 80% rye and the rest barley malt (or rye malt).
Why do you claim a "classic" rye mash bill is 80% rye? I know of no reason to believe that was ever the case. Even the mash bill they have worked out for Washington's distillery, which is based on records of the amount of each type of grain diverted to the distillery, has rye at about 60%.
The story of distillation in the New World is really the story of people learning how to distill corn effectively, because although corn can be problematic, due to the difficulty of fully liquefying the starches, its high yield makes it economically desirable. Rye was always used for its pleasing flavor, but the economics always would have pushed a New World distiller in the direction of using as much corn as possible. Ultimately, the flavor issue was solved by using a small amount of rye and getting a lot of flavor from the new, charred barrel.
Certainly there were times and places where rye was plentiful and corn relatively less so, when I'm sure whiskeys were made with a very high rye content, but those would have been anomalies.
Another aspect, as modern distillers will tell you, is that after a point more rye grain doesn't necessarily mean more rye flavor.