Bourbon - Grain Selection and Mixture (Mash Bill)

Each distillery has its own recipe for the grain mixture. The law requires a Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey to have a corn content of at least 51%. However, the corn content is usually higher (between 60% and 80%).

Wild Turkey - Grain samples
Wild Turkey - Grain samples

Further components of the mash bill are rye and malted barley, which each make up between 10% and 15%. Few distilleries add wheat to their mash bill (e.g. Bernheim or Maker's Mark). Wheat makes a whiskey milder and smoother on the tongue. If wheat is added, it makes up about 10%.

The Grain mills of Four Roses
Four Roses - Grain mills

The different grain types are ground separately and stored temporarily. In former times hammer mills were used until it was found out that they heat up the grain too much, which affects the taste. Today the grain is usually crushed in order to open the husk. The following grinding process leads to very fine flour.

Early Times - Grain Silos
Early Times - Grain Silos

Mashbills of different distilleries

DistilleryCornRyeMalted BarleyWheatSpecial
George Dickel8488
Jack Daniels80812


Heaven Hill751312Different Brands have different Mashbills
Jim Beam771310Different Brands have different Mashbills
Makers Mark701416
Four Roses75205Different Brands have different Mashbills
Wild Turkey751312
Buffalo Trace9010Different Brands have different Mashbills
Woodford Reserve721810
Koval----Secret/Single Grain Whiskey