Difference between Whiskey and Bourbon

If you are the one who loves to have whiskey then you would have surely heard that “all bourbon is whiskey, but not all whiskey is bourbon.” But, have you ever tried to find out why it is so? Whiskey is made all across the globe and is known by different names like the one made in Scotland is scotch, and then there is Irish whiskey and American whiskey. The one made in the US and that too particularly Kentucky is called bourbon.

So, basically Bourbon got its name from Bourbon County, Kentucky, where it originated. The colour of Bourbon is amber and when it comes to other whiskies it is slightly sweeter and heavier in texture as compared to other whiskies.

Any whiskey is a spirit that is distilled from fermented grain mash and this grain can be rye, barley, wheat or corn and once distilled it is aged in wooden barrels. Scotch is normally made from malted barley, but bourbon makes use of corn. Bourbon is the most popular variety of American whiskey.

Greg Davis the Master Distiller at Maker’s Mark differentiates between whiskey and bourbon by giving the specifications that are required to prepare bourbon. He says the foremost requirement is that it should be prepared on the American soil and that too with minimum 51% corn, while whiskey can make use of any other grain like wheat, barley or rye too. The way bourbon is stored is also specific. It needs to be stored in new charred-oak barrels, while if you are storing any other whiskey the only requirement is oak barrel. There is no need for it to be new or charred.

For the bourbon, the liquid should not be distilled to more than 160 proof and when it is entering the barrel it should be at 125. For any other whiskey, except bourbon, the liquid must be distilled to no more than 190 proof. There is no ageing requirement for bourbon, but mostly four-year ageing is done to improve quality and instil smoothness. Those bourbons that are aged between 2-4 years and have no added colouring, flavouring or spirits are called straight bourbons. The bourbon mash starts with 51-79% corn base, while the remaining percentage can be barley and wheat or rye as per the distiller’s preference.

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