Rye whiskey can refer to more than two types of whiskey, although they do quite a bit of the same thing. For example, both these types of drinks are made by distilling grain from the rye plant. The difference lies in how the alcohol is produced. Here is the breakdown.
Straight rye whiskey is a distilled version of a malt beverage. Distilled means that it has been altered a little bit. The major difference between straight and Sazerac is that Sazerac contains woodier flavoring than straight. Woody flavors like oak, cherry, or any other wood-related flavorings tend to dilute fruit flavors, which is why so many bartenders mix a fruity liqueur with their rye whiskey. They also mix it with egg white, apple juice, or lemon juice.
Blended rye whiskey is a cross of straight and Sazerac. For this cross to be called blended, one of the ingredients must be taken from each of the types of alcohol mentioned above, as well as one grain of corn per recipe. Some recipes call for half a pound of grain for each recipe. So, the result would be that you would end up with a half pound of grain for every half recipe cup. Blended rye whiskey is very popular and quite light, which is why it is often mixed with liqueurs.
Corn mash is the sweet, intense, and highly carbonated alternative to wheat that is made from reconstituted corn meal. It does not contain the identical amount of tannin as wheat. A rye mash recipe will use more than a quarter teaspoon of corn meal per cup of rye. Most bartenders blend the rye in with the corn mash and then add a little bit of the liqueur–or steep some rye into the cornmeal, which gives it a smoother taste and somewhat less fattening.
Spicy is the final flavor component that goes into making rye whiskey. Distilled whiskey is made by removing the rye grain from the equation, which leaves behind the rye, which is still a grain, but has a higher number of sugars and corn syrups. Rye whiskey is spicier than many other types of hard liquor. Many bartenders add a little soda to the glass to reduce the overall effect. One way to really enhance the spiciness of rye whiskey is to add brandy or sherry.
Regardless of which type of cocktail you are thinking of having; rye whiskey can make a great base for mixing different ingredients. However, you do have to keep in mind the fact that it is also an expensive product. There are cheaper alternatives such as cornmeal shakers, which give a very similar result but do not cost much. If you are looking to save money, you may want to look into buying a simple syrup, such as Simple syrup, instead of using the expensive jigger type of simple syrup.