3 Bourbon Mash Recipes Explained (2023 Updated)

Last Updated on August 22, 2023 by Lydia Martin

There are different recipes for bourbon mash, but all of them have the same basic ingredients. 

We’ll discuss the common grains used and some of the different variations you can try. If you are interested in making your bourbon, this is the perfect place to start!

3 Different Bourbon Mash Recipes 

4 Different Bourbon Mash Recipes 

1. Traditional Mash Bill Recipe

Elmer T. Lee Bourbon

A traditional mash bill recipe contains three essential ingredients: corn, rye, and barley. The proportions of these ingredients vary depending on the style of whiskey being produced, but they must all be present for the whiskey to be considered a traditional mash bill. 

Corn is the grain that provides most of the whiskey’s sweetness, while rye gives it its characteristic spicy flavor. Barley is responsible for both the whiskey’s color and its distinct maltiness.

Together, these three grains create a well-balanced whiskey that is perfect for sipping neat or enjoying a classic cocktail.

Some of the most popular bourbons with a traditional mash bill include Jim Beam, Knob Creek, Elijah Craig, and Booker’s.

2. High-Rye Mash Bill Recipe

Blue Run High-Rye

A high-rye mash bill is a whiskey recipe that uses a large proportion of rye grain. Rye is a type of grass that imparts spicy, complex flavors to whiskey. In contrast, a low-rye or rye-free mash bill will result in a smoother, sweeter spirit. 

Most Bourbons are made with a high-rye mash bill, as are many American whiskies. High-rye mash bills can vary significantly, but they typically contain at least 20 to 35% rye grain. 

The exact ratio of grains will impact the flavor of the finished whiskey. For example, a high-rye Bourbon will have bolder flavors than a low-rye Bourbon. Ultimately, it’s up to the distiller to decide how much rye to use in their mash bill.

Some of the best high-rye bourbons available today are Old Grand-Dad, Bulleit, Redemption High-Rye, and Basil Hayden’s.

3. Wheat Mash Bill Recipe

Weller Wheated Bourbon

With the wheat mash bill, wheat is used as a rye substitute or added to the mash bill recipe to make it a four-grain bourbon.  

The result is a softer, smoother, and sweeter flavor profile different from bourbon made with rye, which is spicier. 

Some examples of wheated bourbon are Maker’s Mark, Weller, Larceny, and Van Winkle.

Common Grains Used in Bourbon Mash

Common Grains Used in Bourbon Mash


Corn is the most common grain used in bourbon mash. It gives bourbon its sweetness and characteristic flavor. Most bourbons are made with a mash bill that is at least 51% corn.

Read: Top 100% Corn Bourbon Brands

Rye & Wheat


Rye and wheat are other common grains used in bourbon mash. They contribute to the flavor and body of the bourbon. Bourbons made with a high rye content tend to be spicy, while those with a high wheat content are softer and smoother.


Barley [1] is another grain sometimes used in bourbon mash. It gives the bourbon a distinct flavor and aroma. Bourbons made with a high barley content are often called “single malt” bourbons.


What percentage of corn mash makes bourbon?

According to law, a bourbon mash bill must contain at least 51% corn, leaving the other 49% to the discretion of the distiller.

Do Eagle Rare and Buffalo Trace have the same mash bill?

Yes. Eagle Rare and Buffalo Trace bourbons use the same traditional mash bill also referred to as Mashbill #1. They also have the same ABV.

Key Takeaways  

The mash gives bourbon its distinctive flavor and aroma, so it’s important to get it right. The cooking time for the mash will vary depending on the type of bourbon you’re making.

Hopefully, this article has given you a better understanding of bourbon mash and how it affects the flavor of your finished product. There is no right or wrong way to make a bourbon mash, so feel free to experiment and see what works best for you. 



Lydia Martin

Lydia Martin hails from Redmond, Washington, where you’ll find some of the best cocktail bars and distilleries that offer a great mix of local drinks. She used to work as a bar manager in Paris and is a self-taught mixologist whose passion for crafting unique cocktails led her to create Liquor Laboratory. Lydia can whip up a mean Margarita in seconds! Contact at [email protected] or learn more about us here.

One thought on “3 Bourbon Mash Recipes Explained (2023 Updated)

  • December 23, 2022 7:47 pm at 7:47 pm

    Can you send me a complete
    Recipe for making a bourbon
    Mash, please include cooking
    Time for each ingredient, I’m
    Useing corn , 2 row malted barley, rye ,&wheat if possible,
    I’m making a 5 gallon mash,so
    I’ll need proportion’s of each
    Ingredient and cooking sequence.


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