What Is The Difference Between Bourbon and Whiskey

 In whisky

So we all know that there are some differences between the different types of whiskey we see on the store shelves…but have you ever wondered what is the difference between bourbon and whiskey?  We have and whilst we are a “little special”, we don’t think we are the only whiskey lovers who have asked this question at some point.

Is Bourbon Whiskey?

Technically speaking Bourbon is whiskey.  So to be clear, in the same way Scotch whisky is whisky made to certain rules, bourbon is also whiskey made to certain rules.  Like Scotch, geography is indeed one of the rules…bourbon whiskey should be made in the USA.  So basically, yes bourbon is whiskey made to specific rules in America.

What Makes Bourbon Different to Whiskey?

So whilst bourbon is whiskey, whiskey isn’t definitely bourbon.  Other than the geographic rule explained above, there are also rules in the method of production and ingredients used.

Key Bourbon Whiskey Ingredients

Let’s start with the main ingredient rule in bourbon.  Traditionally whiskey is made with mashed grains, and in the case of Scotch whisky, typically only malted barley.  Bourbon on the other hand must contain a minimum of 51% corn in it’s grain bill.  So whilst other whiskeys can use a variety of grains in percentages of their choice, bourbon has a minimum quantity of 51% corn.

Bourbon Whiskey Production Methods

On top of the key ingredient rule, there are certain production methods which must be strictly followed.  The first being that the bourbon whiskey must be initially distilled to no more than 80% ABV, or 160 proof.

After distilling, the bourbon must then enter new oak barrels (charred oak barrels specifically) with an ABV no more than 62.5%, or 125 proof.  Finally, bottling of the bourbon must be at no less than 40% ABV or 80 proof.

But What About Colouring and Additives?

Whilst blending is approved with bourbon whiskey, adding colour or flavour additives is not.

So there you have it…it’s as simple as the above rules.  We think the best thing do to remember the rules above, pour a whiskey and a bourbon into your favourite glasses (we’ve picked these whiskey glasses as our favourites) and see if you can taste and smell the differences the above rules make.

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