Is Rye Whiskey Healthier Than Bourbon? Everything You Need To Know

By: Jackie Martin    Last Updated: January 23, 2023       


Is Rye Whiskey Healthier Than Bourbon

While it may still be alcoholic, whiskey is considered to be a relatively healthy alcohol.

Drinking whiskey can have a beneficial impact on the body as the plant has no sugar or fat so has little discernible effect on blood sugar levels. That may mean it is a good choice for diabetics when compared to other alcohol types.

Rye whiskey does have an intense flavor and that may be a factor when deciding between that and bourbon.

In this guide, we will look at whether rye whisker is healthier than bourbon, the health benefits of rye whiskey, and the cancer prevention link to rye whiskey.

We will also look at the similarities and differences between rye whiskey and bourbon, as well as why rye whiskey is used more in cocktails than bourbon.

Is Rye Whiskey Healthier Than Bourbon?

There is a school of thought that suggests that rye whiskey is healthier than bourbon. Part of that thinking is attributed to the higher content of ellagic acid in rye whiskey.

This component is known to be a potent antioxidant which can be linked to a reduced cancer risk and better heart health. 

Of course, when drinking any alcoholic drink it is key to drink it with moderation. Having said that, there are claims that drinking rye whiskey does have some health benefits which simply have not been linked to bourbon.

These include an improved circulation and even better digestion.

There is also a hot toddy which is a warm drink used to reduce the symptoms of cold and flu by combining honey, lemon, cinnamon, cloves, and whiskey with rye whiskey being recommended.

The Health Benefits Of Rye Whiskey

Is Rye Whiskey Healthier Than Bourbon

Rye whiskey is known for its intense flavor which has some smokey hints. There are also hints of pepper, grass, oak, and fruit, with spicy overtones.

If you enjoy the flavor of rye whiskey, you may also enjoy the health benefits too. 

These health benefits can include the promotion of weight loss as the rye fibers can help an individual feel fuller, sooner.

That can help minimize someone’s appetite, leading to less caloric intake and whiskey is a low calorie alcohol on its own too.

A standard shot of rye whiskey should have just 70 calories so it is comparably light when put against other alcoholic drinks.

Those fibers in rye whiskey can also aid an individual’s digestion as they can loosen up blockage and remove gas with the discomfort that comes with it.

As rye whiskey does not contain carbohydrates, you should not expect it to have an impact on blood sugar levels.

That’s compared to other wheat products and makes it a great choice for diabetics, even as an alcoholic drink.

Finally, by adding rye whiskey to your diet, you can reduce blood pressure which is down to a mixture of the minerals, vitamins, and fibers involved in the substance.

The Cancer Prevention Link To Rye Whiskey

Then there is the ellagic acid which can prevent DNA from getting into contact with cells that can cause cancer.

That’s quite a bold statement yet ellagic acid is known to be an antioxidant. For diabetics, or anyone cutting back on their sugar intake, they should decide on rye whiskey rather than bourbon.

Studies and research have shown that single malt whiskies, and rye whiskey, have more health benefits which do see them edge out other alcoholic beverages like bourbon. 

The Similarities Between Rye Whiskey And Bourbon

While many whiskey drinkers can, and should, be able to discern between the taste of rye whiskey and bourbon, there are some similarities.

That includes the chemistry of rye which has many of the exact same cellulose compounds that are used in the oak to age whiskey.

The fact that they share similar production methods can help to bring some of the same flavor compounds for both rye whiskey and bourbon.

Those notes of pepper and spice occur when those complex cellulosic compounds break down in both oak barrels and rye. 

The Differences Between Rye Whiskey And Bourbon

There are some definable differences between rye whiskey and bourbon, specifically in the production processes. For a start, the creation of bourbon starts with a corn mash which has a full-bodied and relatively sweet flavor profile.

However, rye whiskey is made with a rye mash which has a dry taste and a spicy tone. A lot of whiskey drinkers should be able to tell the difference in a blind taste test between rye whiskey and bourbon.

While rye whiskey may be more versatile and used in more cocktails than bourbon, rye whiskey is said to have a more intense flavor than bourbon.

That does mean that bourbon is more readily mixed, certainly in the example of a Jack Daniel’s whiskey and coke. This is down to how sweet and palatable bourbon whiskey is which lends itself to being a more tolerable taste. 

Though some of the production methods share similarities, there is a fundamental difference in the ingredients used in the two types of whiskey.

For instance, bourbon should be made with over 51% of corn yet rye whiskey has the same percentage, only it is rye and not corn though that can be 95% or even 100% rye.

What defines rye whiskey and bourbon brands is the production methods and the content of the mash which can be made from barley and/or corn.

Finally, there is the distillation and rye whiskey is distilled at a maximum of 160 proof or 80 ABV while bourbon is distilled at no more than 125 proof or 62.5 ABV.

Why Rye Whiskey Is Used More In Cocktails Than Bourbon

Is Rye Whiskey Healthier Than Bourbon

Bourbon is typically considered to be a robust and bold flavored drink, even for whiskey. That consideration is strengthened by the bold labeling and marketing of bourbon which includes some well-known brands.

While bourbon may be great for mixers, specifically coke, a lot of whiskey-based cocktails specify rye whiskey rather than bourbon.

The preference for rye whiskey is usually down to the milder flavor which works well with other spirits and liqueurs so is ideal in a cocktail.

Final Thoughts

Individuals and whiskey drinkers have their own preferences and different palates. As their tastes develop, they may prefer rye whiskey or gain a liking for bourbon whiskey.

There is some research that suggests that rye whiskey has a range of health benefits including improved digestion and circulation, as well as relief from cold or flu symptoms.

While there is little undeniable scientific evidence to confirm these health benefits, many that are suffering from a cold or flu say that they feel better after drinking a hot toddy, typically made with rye whiskey.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should Those On A Gluten-Free Diet Or People With Celiac Disease Try Rye Whiskey?

Due to the inclusion of gluten in rye, rye whiskey will not be suitable to drink for those on a gluten-free diet or with celiac disease.

Those individuals should be careful with distilled beverages as they are made from gluten grains. However, there are gluten-free alcoholic beverages that include wine, true hard cider, and some beers too. 

Which Is Worse, A Beer Or Whiskey Hangover?

Whiskey should have fewer calories than beer, especially those derived from sugar. There are some health benefits to drinking rye whiskey yet it should be drunk in moderation, like all alcoholic beverages.

However, whiskey does have a higher alcohol content than beer so the hangover should be worse.

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