Are Bourbon And Whiskey Same Things?

The difference between whiskey and bourbon sounds a bit like a science problem in school. All bourbon is whiskey, but not all whiskey is bourbon. It’s like saying champagne is wine. Bourbon and whiskey are both brown, but they aren’t the same thing. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered so the next time you pick up a drink, you’ll look like a bourbon aficionado. We’ve got the main differences between bourbon and whiskey.

The Lowdown On Whiskey

Whiskey is actually a drink made from the fermented grains of rye, barley, wheat, and corn. It is then poured into wooden barrels where it’s aged. The kind of grain used and the type of barrels used in production determine your type of whiskey. There are many different styles of it including Irish, American, and Scotch. Here’s where we get down to bourbon. The American style of whiskey is bourbon.

The Secret Sweet Ingredient Of Bourbon

The main difference between bourbon and whiskey is the way that it’s made. It’s manufactured and aged in a different way than whiskey. Bourbon must be at least 51 percent corn to be considered a bourbon whiskey. The boost of corn gives bourbon its sweet, unique flavor.

bourbon-whiskey

Aging Bourbon

Bourbon must be aged in new charred oak barrels. The keyword is “new” because other whiskeys can be aged in a barrel that has been previously used. In fact, whiskey can be aged in rum casks or sherry barrels, too. Bourbon must be aged in a brand new charred oak barrel for a minimum of two years. The effects of the charring give it a better smoky flavor. Charring is done to the barrel to change its overall make. This helps the wood and whiskey mold together for the best smoky taste.

ABV Marks

Bourbon has to hit a certain proof before it can be consumed. The aging mash must be distilled at 160 proof or 80 percent ABV (alcohol by volume) or less. It must be aged in the barrel until it is 125 proof or 62.5 ABV. Different whiskeys have varying degrees of ABV standards. Scotch whisky is 80 proof or 40 percent ABV, but it doesn’t have a maximum or minimum alcohol by volume content when it’s distilled in the barrel.

No Additives

Sometimes a whiskey maker will add caramel coloring or a little flavoring into their whiskey as it ages. Bourbon cannot be called bourbon if anything is added to it except for water. The only reason water is added to it is because it works to bring down its proof for production.

Bourbon Regulations

The strict regulations on bourbon date back to the 1800s. Back then, distillers worked hard to adulterate, dilute and tamper with their favorite types of whiskey. They set some tough standards when they passed the Bottle in Bond Act of 1897. Before this Act, whiskey was often made with random additives like iodine or tobacco. Distillers were able to save money by throwing in these cheap additives. This act guaranteed that bourbon whiskey would be authentic for each consumer.

All Bourbon Isn’t From Kentucky

Most people think a good whiskey bourbon has to be made in Kentucky. This isn’t the only state to make a good bourbon. If you’re going to designate your drink as a “Kentucky bourbon,” it does have to be distilled and aged in the state though. There’s even a Bourbon County, Kentucky. Balcones Texas Blue Corn Bourbon is made in Texas, Kings County Peated Bourbon is made in New York, and Woodinville Straight Bourbon Port Cask is made in Washington. You can find bourbon made from pretty much any state.

Finding The Best Bourbon For You

Now you know the distinct taste and production difference between whiskey and bourbon, you can put it to the test. Finding the best bourbon for you is all about taste preference. Some people say you must drink bourbon straight, but there aren’t any exact rules. Some people put water and/or ice in it. Some people ease into the taste by mixing it with ginger ale or cola. Drinking bourbon straight is often reserved for a whiskey connoisseur, but it’s really all about having fun with a drink you love.

No matter what kind of whiskey you prefer, the most important thing is to enjoy every sip. With its sweet, smoky flavor, bourbon is the choice for millions of people that love a drink with a rich history. As you enjoy a glass today, think about all that went into the production of such a satisfying spirit.