Difference Between Whiskey and Bourbon


Main Difference

Either you are a bourbon drinker or whiskey drinker, you need to know the real difference between these two. There are lot of differences that exists between bourbon and whiskey. The main difference between bourbon and whiskey is that bourbon is a barrel-aged distilled spirit made mainly from corn while whiskey is a type of distilled alcoholic beverage made from fermented grain mash.

What is Whiskey?

Whiskey is a kind of distilled alcoholic beverage made that is made from fermented grain mash. Various grains are used for making different varieties that includes barley, corn, rye, and wheat. It is normally ages in wooden cask that are normally made of charred white oak. It is a strictly regulated spirit worldwide with many types and classes. The bases of different types and classes are the fermentation of grains, distillation and aging in wooden barrels. It is being said that distillation was first performed by the Babylonians in Mesopotamia in the 2nd millennium BC with perfumes and aromatics being distilled. The simple standard distillation apparatus is commonly known as pot still that consists of a single heated chamber and a vessel to collect purified alcohol. Whiskey ages are performed only in the cask. And also the whiskey that is aged in wood is better than that is matured in bottles. Whiskey are usually sold when these contains 40% of alcohol or above.


What is Bourbon?

Bourbon stands for an American whiskey that is made from corn. The name bourbon is derived from the French Bourbon dynasty. It has been distilled since 18th century. It is being made everywhere in United States but it is particularly linked with American South and Kentucky. Currently the share of bourbon is about $2.7 billion in USA and its makes about two-thirds of the $1.6 billion of United States exports of distilled spirits. Legal definite of bourbon varies from countries to countries but the trade agreements require this name to be associated for products made in the U.S. According to The Federal Standards of Identity for Distilled Spirits, a bourbon needs to follow the legal requirements in order to be used for U.S. consumptions. These requirements are: it is produced in U.S., made from a grain mixture that contains at least 51% corn, aged in new charred oak barrels, 805 alcohol by volume, entered into the barrel for aging not more than 62.5% alcohol by volume, and bottled when more than 40% alcohol by volume.


Key Differences

  1. Bourbon is a type of distilled alcohol that is only made in U.S while whiskey is made in other parts of the world.
  2. At least 51% corn is required to be in bourbon however, barley, rye and wheat are also included in it for balancing. Whiskey is made of barely, malted barley, wheat, corn, rye, and malted rye.
  3. For aging purpose, new, charred oak containers, typically white oak barrels are used for bourbon while for whiskey charred white oak is required.
  4. Bourbon must be distilled to no more than 160 proof while whiskey must be distilled no more than 190 proof.
  5. Barrel entry proof of bourbon must not be more than 125 and of whiskey it is not more than 80 proof.
  6. Bourbon is a barrel-aged distilled spirit made mainly from corn while whiskey is a type of distilled alcoholic beverage made from fermented grain mash.
Aimie Carlson

Aimie Carlson is an English language enthusiast who loves writing and has a master degree in English literature. Follow her on Twitter at @AimieCarlson