When it comes to making an Old Fashioned, traditionally, bourbon is the preferred choice of whiskey. However, you can absolutely use other types of whiskey, such as rye, in place of bourbon to create a different flavor profile.
Bourbon is known for its rich and full-bodied characteristics. It is typically made from a mash bill that contains at least 51% corn, which gives it a slightly sweet and smooth taste. The aging process in charred oak barrels imparts additional flavors of caramel, vanilla, and oak.
On the other hand, rye whiskey is made primarily from rye grain and has a spicier and drier flavor profile compared to bourbon. It tends to be lighter and less sweet, with more prominent notes of pepper, cinnamon, and herbs.
Using rye whiskey in an Old Fashioned can bring a different dimension to the cocktail. The spiciness of rye complements the bitters and adds a refreshing kick to the drink. It can be an excellent choice for those who prefer a more bold and assertive flavor.
However, it's important to note that the choice between whiskey and bourbon ultimately comes down to personal preference. Some people might enjoy the sweeter and smoother taste of bourbon in their Old Fashioned, while others might prefer the spicier and bolder profile of rye whiskey.
In my personal experience as a sommelier and brewer, I have found that using rye whiskey in an Old Fashioned can be a delightful change of pace. The spiciness of the rye adds a unique twist to the classic cocktail and can be particularly refreshing on a hot summer day.
Ultimately, the choice of using whiskey or bourbon in an Old Fashioned is up to you. I encourage you to try both options and see which one you prefer. It's all about experimenting and finding the flavor profile that suits your taste buds.