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What Makes Bourbon Different From Whiskey

Whats The Difference Between Scotch Whiskey And Bourbon

What Makes Bourbon Different From Whisky?

This might be common knowledge for some, but it’s worth a refresher before you go out and buy a bottle. Let’s start with a burning question we answered back in 2008: what makes a whiskey bourbon?

The law. While knocking back a dram of bourbon is a decidedly carefree exercise, making it is exceedingly technical and requires that the whiskey meet a rigid set of criteria. The Federal Standards of Identity for Bourbon stipulate what is and what isnt bourbon. For a whiskey to call itself bourbon, its mash, the mixture of grains from which the product is distilled, must contain at least 51% corn. The mash must be distilled at 160 proof or less, put into the barrel at 125 proof or less, and it must not contain any additives. The distillate must be aged in a new charred oak barrel. If you distill a whiskey in your kitchen that meets all of these standards, congrats, youve made bourbon. Also, youve broken the law the ATF is probably outside your house right now.

The main difference between scotch and whiskey is geographic, but also ingredients and spellings. Scotch is whisky made in Scotland, while bourbon is whiskey made in the U.S.A, generally Kentucky. Scotch is made mostly from malted barley, while bourbon is distilled from corn. If youre in England and ask for a whisky, youll get Scotch. But in Ireland, youll get Irish whiskey .

So What Is The Difference Between Bourbon Scotch And Whiskey

In order for whiskey to be called scotch, it must be made in Scotland. Similar to how bourbon has to be made in the United States or it is considered whiskey. The ingredients of scotch differ from bourbon. Scotch has to be mainly made from malted barley.

All bourbon is whiskey but not all whiskey is bourbon.

Bourbon is a wonderful American spirit that is an elite class of whiskey. Now you should be able to answer with confidence the difference between bourbon and whiskey.

It Doesn’t Need To Come From Kentucky

You may have heard that in order to be a bourbon, the whiskey has to be from Kentucky. That’s not quite truebourbon can be made outside that state. But to be designated a “Kentucky bourbon,” the spirit has to be both distilled and aged in Kentucky. The name “bourbon” even comes from old Bourbon, what is now Bourbon County, Kentucky. Most bourbon is made in Kentucky, but not all, so it has become synonymous with the spirit, much as the Champagne region in France is synonymous with champagne, even though sparkling wine using similar methods is produced elsewhere. So next time you order a bourbon, you know that what you’ll be getting in your glass isn’t just a whiskey, but a specific kind of whiskey.

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How To Be Considered A Bourbon

For a whiskey to be called a bourbon, it first by law has to have a mash bill with at least 51 percent corn. Depending on how much of the remaining bill is wheat or rye is the reason why we have wheated bourbon and rye bourbon . The mash must also be distilled at 160 proof or less, put into the barrel at 125 proof or less. After the mash bill criteria is met, next is the the barrel aging process. Additionally by law, bourbon has to be aged in a charred white oak barrell, and a new one at that. This stipulation caused problems for many major distillers during the bourbon boom of the past 10 years when there was a massive shortage of new barrels for the unexpected increased demand. The last criteria for bourbon: it has to be made in the U.S.A. Much of the bourbon we buy comes from Kentucky, which is where the name originated from in a certain area called Old Bourbon, now known as Bourbon County.

What Does Bourbon Taste Like

Bourbon Vs. Scotch Whisky: What

So after all this history, all this work and all these rules, what’s the end result? Well… A damn good whiskey! Bourbon is a broad church, with different mashbills, distilleries, barrel types, char levels and ages all producing radically different final products.

Generally though, it is a sweeter style of whiskey compared to single malt or Rye whiskey, and notes of caramel, apples, baking spice, cornbread, oak and vanilla are common.

The best way to work out what Bourbon tastes like is to get out there and try some! We recommend perusing Whisky Loots range of American drams, where you are bound to find a Bourbon for you.

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Bourbon Must Meet Distillation Entry And Fill Proof Requirements

What does proof mean with bourbon?

The proof is a measure of the alcohol content in a beverage. In the United States proof is the % of alcohol by volume also known as ABV. The proof is twice the percentage of the ABV. So for instance Wild Turkey 101 Proof is 50.5% ABV. With bourbon, the law is very particular about the proofs in the different stages of the alcohol making process.

What is the distillation proof required for bourbon?

The first stage of the bourbon process is creating a liquid called white dog which is what is put into the bourbon barrel. At the time of distillation, the liquid produced cant be higher than 160 proof to be considered bourbon.

What is the barrel entry proof required for bourbon?

When the white dog liquid is put into the barrel that is what is called the entry proof. Limestone water can be added to the liquid but cant be less than 125 proof to be called bourbon when it is put into the barrel for the aging process.

What is the fill proof required for bourbon?

When bourbon is bottled it cant be less than 80 proof to be called bourbon. Bourbon doesnt have a minimum aging period but there are different classifications of bourbon-based on how long it aged and where it is aged. For example, to earn the name of Kentucky Strait Bourbon it must be aged at least 1 year in the state of Kentucky.

But First Is It Whiskey Or Whisky

All whiskeys start out the same in how theyre made. Grain is fermented and then distilled and has to be at least 40 percent alcohol by volume once it makes its way to the bottle. Variations in barrel type, aging time, and distillation techniques are what contribute to the many different types of whiskey. The spelling, however, depends on where its made. The Irish use the e and then American-made whiskeys followed suit. Whisky spirits are ones made in Scotland, Canada, Japan or anywhere else in the world.

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The Basics Of Whiskey

Whiskey is more of a term for a general category of distilled spirits. Bourbon and scotch are both types of whiskeys. Youll also see Canadian whiskey, Irish whiskey, and so on.

The general definition of whiskey is a distilled spirit thats made from grain. The grains used could include barley, corn, rye, malt, and more.

Each whiskey has a similar basic formula , but the grains they use and the way the whiskey is made create huge differences in taste, aroma, color, and more, Thats why you see so many types of whiskeys. Two varieties in particular, though, are particularly regulated: bourbon and scotch.

What Is A Whiskey

What Makes American Single Malt Whiskey Different From Scotch?

Whiskey is an alcoholic drink that is made from fermented grains, usually including corn, wheat, barley, or rye. These grains may be present in any percentage in the mash used for fermenting whiskey. Whiskey is an umbrella term that includes many different specific types of whiskey, which we will get into a little bit more later on in this article. Most of the time, whiskey is aged in charred oak barrels, but there are some exceptions to this rule .

Whiskey is sometimes also known as whisky, without the e. This is because whiskey refers to the alcoholic beverage made in the United States, while whisky is the same drink made anywhere else in the world. If you glance at a bottle and it says whiskey, with an e, then you know youre getting something made in the United States.

Most types of whiskey have a dark brown color, but some may be lighter than others. They almost always have a smoky flavor, but again, some may have stronger smoky flavors than others too. Whiskey is usually enjoyed by itself or on the rocks, but it can also be put in some cocktails. This is largely dependent on the type of whiskey youre drinking and the company youre in you probably shouldnt drink Scotch whisky in a cocktail when youre in a very prestigious group of people, for example, but you can put rye whiskey in a cocktail in almost any situation.

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What’s The Difference Between Whiskey And Bourbon

By: Patty Rasmussen | Updated: Apr 9, 2021

Whiskey drinking has been popular in the United States since colonial times. Even George Washington had a rye whiskey distillery. But bourbon often called “America’s native spirit” has enjoyed a resurgence in the past decade. According to the Distilled Spirits Council, in 2018, more than 24 million 9-liter cases of American whiskey was sold in the U.S., which includes both bourbon and whiskey.

But what’s the difference between the two? If you think you can use the terms interchangeably you’d be wrong. Chris Fletcher is the assistant master distiller at the Jack Daniel Distillery in Lynchburg, Tennessee, the oldest registered distillery in the United States. He gave us the lowdown on the differences and similarities between the two spirits.

What Is A Bourbon

The unaware person may see a bottle labeled Bourbon right next to a bottle labeled Whiskey and assume they are different.

They are different, but on a ground level, they are both whiskeys.

To understand why bourbon is different from other whiskeys, the first part is actually the legal side of things.

The simple answer to what makes Bourbon a Bourbon and thereby different from traditional whiskey is actually the law.

  • The mash also has to be distilled at 160 proof or less and in the barrel at 125 or less. After this is upheld there are also rules regarding the aging process.
  • Bourbon must be aged in a charred white oak barrel that has not been in use previously.
  • The barrel used for aging a whiskey considered a bourbon must be a charred white oak barrel by law, and a completely new one too.
  • On top of this, there is bad news for international bourbon makers, because for a whiskey to be considered a bourbon, it has to be made in the US.

Bourbon is considered by many a man’s drink, and vodka a ladies drink. Is that even a thing? Take a look at this article where we discuss about the topic and other interesting facts.

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All Natural No Additives

At Iowa Legendary Rye, we are proud of our distilling heritage and our 100% natural prohibition recipe. Let us take a moment to formally educate you more on this subject. With, what separates bourbon from rye whiskey.

While all rye whiskies must include 51% rye in their mash bill, Iowa Legendary Rye didnt pull any punches in creating our old school prohibition-era rye, bringing the mash-bill up with a complete 100% rye mash. Although it remains harder to produce in large quantitys. While the flavor profile with each bottle is amazing and smooth.

That traditional process lends it a equally classic flavor that makes for a perfect addition to cocktails and comes at a low purchase price-point.

ILR Ryes standout flavor profile makes it a perfect addition for cocktails since it wont get drowned out by other flavors.

Its the law, but not always

Whiskey Vs Bourbon Vs Scotch: More Than A Different Name


No one is born as a spirit aficionado. Theres a lot to learn about the world of distilled spirits, and until you dig into the details, your local liquor store probably looks like a wall of two categories: brown liquors and clear liquors.

Lets start by getting into the specifics of three common terms you see often: whiskey, bourbon, and scotch. To a new palate, they taste similar, so whats the difference?

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Bourbon Vs Whiskey What Is It

Whiskey is a spirit distilled from fermented grain mash, including various grains like wheat, rye, barley, and corn. Its then aged in wooden barrels or casks. Whiskey can be made worldwide, and there are many popular styles, including American Whiskey, Bourbon Whiskey, Scotch Whisky, and Irish Whiskey. Scotland is the original home of whisky, and its been produced there for hundreds of years- though youll find various tales of who produced it for the first time. We may never know the true story, but its fun to hear all the legends that have evolved over time. If youre curious about the details on how to make whiskey, check out our blog on the techniques, ingredients, and process that goes into producing it.Bourbon, made of grain, yeast, and water, is the namesake of its birthplace- Bourbon County, Kentucky, in the 1700s. It was produced in Kentucky and shipped down the Mississippi River to Louisiana, making its way to Bourbon Street. By tradition, true bourbon comes from distilleries in Old Bourbon County, but new laws allow the bourbon to be made anywhere in the US. However, the limestone water in Kentucky and the climate are two primary factors in determining the flavors. In honor of the tradition of real bourbon, most distilleries outside of Kentucky wont use the term bourbon in their whiskeys. If youre looking for a premium sipping bourbon, weve got you covered in our Bourbon of the Month Club.

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What Is Bourbon And How Is It Different From Other Types Of Whisky

Bourbon is a type of American whiskey, distilled from a mash made primarily of corn. Despite its popularity, the spirit remains a mystery to many. So how is it defined, and what else does the beginner need to know? Here are 10 bourbon FAQs to get you started on Americas Native Spirit.

  • Is it good for cocktails?
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    Bourbon Has To Be 51% Corn

    What are the ingredients in bourbon?

    Bourbon is known for its corn flavor. Typically, distillers will use more than 51% percent to give bourbon its desired flavor.

    The other main ingredients in bourbon are typically what is called a mash build. Typically wheat, barley, rye, and other grains are what creates a mash build. Most distillers go way over the corn requirement of 51% to give their signature flavor.

    Below is a picture from a demonstration of the mash build at the Buffalo Trace Distillery in Kentucky.

    Whiskey Vs Bourbon Vs Scotch Country Of Origin

    What Makes Whiskey, Bourbon?

    Even though they are both categorized as whiskeys, theres an ocean-sized difference between whiskey and bourbon. According to the Scotch Whisky Act of 1988, an alcoholic beverage can only be termed Scotch if it has been wholly produced in Scotland. It also states that the whiskey must be matured in wooden Oak barrels for three or more years and bottled in Scotland .

    Bourbon is governed by similar laws laid out in the Federal Standards of Identity for Distilled Spirits, a set of rules designed to maintain the distinct taste of bourbon. Since it is considered Americas native spirit, one of the guidelines for earning the bourbon label requires the whiskey to be produced in the USA. Although 95% of the worlds bourbon supply originates from Kentucky, it can be made anywhere in America. However, the limestone content in Kentuckys water filters out metallic impurities, making it an ideal place for bourbon distilleries.

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    Bourbon Has To Hit Certain Abv Marks

    When bourbon is barreled, it also has to hit a certain proof, or alcohol content in the spirit. The mash must be distilled at 160 proof or less, and aged in barrels until it is no more than 125 proof or less. Before bottling, bourbon is filtered and diluted down to no less than 80 proof . Other whiskeys have different ABV standards for barreling and distilling. The minimum bottling strength for Scotch whiskey, for example, is also 80 proof or 40 percent ABV, but there is no maximum or minimum ABV for the distillate.

    Bourbon Is Always Aged In New Charred Oak Barrels

    Bourbon also must be aged in new charred oak barrels, and cannot include any additives or colorings. Other whiskeys can be aged in barrels previously used to age other spirits, and they don’t necessarily need to be whiskey barrelsport, sherry, and rum casks are used in the aging process for non-bourbon whiskeys. To be designated “straight bourbon whiskey,” bourbon has to have been aged in new charred oak barrels for a minimum of two years.

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    No Additives Are Allowed Bourbon Has To Be Genuine

    Can you add flavors to bourbon?

    No additives are allowed in bourbon. Bourbon has to be natural. If flavors are added, it is not bourbon, it is whiskey. You will see many flavor-added bourbons in the bourbon aisle at the liquor store, but they are not bourbon by definition, they are whiskey.

    Below is a product I found in the bourbon aisle at my local liquor store that looks like bourbon but is a whiskey cocktail. It can be tricky because retail chains may put items like this in the bourbon section or aisle of the store that looks like bourbon but they are not. If they are putting additives in the beverage it is not bourbon.

    How can you add flavor to bourbon?

    The mash build of the corn, wheat, barley, and other grain ingredients add to the flavor. The wood used for the barrel also significantly affects the flavor and aroma of bourbon.

    The aging process and the storing locations of bourbon are the secret sauce of bourbon. Bourbon aged in different parts of the warehouse can significantly change the flavor.

    Many distillers will rotate their barrels around the warehouse and have found the sweet spots of the warehouses that produce the best-flavored bourbon.

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