Difference between bourbon and whiskey

All bourbon is whiskey, but not all whiskey is bourbon

If this phrase sounds like gibberish to you and makes no sense at all, then keep reading, because if there’s one thing every man should know, it’s the difference between whiskey and bourbon and it is surprisingly very simple.

Ok, So before we start our comparison between Whiskey and Bourbon we first need to know a simple fundamental fact on the subject that the word Whiskey is simply the umbrella term used for all distilled alcohol made from grain mash. When alcohol is made from Grain mash, we are referring to ingredients like rye, corn, wheat, or whatever grain that might be around depending on where you are in the world. So when you talk about “whiskey,” you could be talking about scotch or rye whiskey or, of course, bourbon.

Now that we know what the term Whiskey refers to, let’s quickly move to Bourbon. Bourbon, on the other hand, is a more specific term used mainly when you’re talking about American brewed whiskey. Bourbon is a type of whiskey that gets its name from Bourbon County, Kentucky, where it originated. Bourbon tends to be amber-coloured, and a little sweeter and heavier in texture than other whiskeys. It’s only produced in the United States and, according to U.S. regulations, as a strict standard, it must be made from a grain mash that is at least 51% corn and aged in new, charred oak containers. There is no minimum time period in which bourbon whiskey should be aged, but any variety aged for less than four years must have the age stated on the label. That said, for a product to be called straight bourbon, it must be aged for at least two years.

In summary, these are the main differences between Whiskey and Bourbon.

Can be made anywhere in the worldMust be made in the United States
Must be produced at less than 190 proof (95% abv)Must be produced at 160 proof (80% abv) or less
Can be made with any combination of grainsGrain mixture must contain at least 51% corn
Must be stored in oak wood containersMust be stored in new charred oak containers
Must be bottled at 80 proof (40% abv) or lessMust be bottled at 80 proof (40% abv) or above

Now you’ve got the difference between bourbon and whiskey, where does Tennessee whiskey fit in? Tennessee Whiskey is very popular but why is this Whiskey that is brewed in the US not categorized as Bourbon? Well, it actually can if you go by the table above. For it to be called Tennessee whiskey, it must be produced from within Tennessee and also has to be filtered with sugar-maple charcoal. It’s this factor that gives Tennessee whiskey its famous smoothness.

If you want to look as a real connoisseur and if you are a true fan of spirit drinks, you must be able to differentiate these two drinks. With this information provided in this article, you can impress your friends with what really is the difference between whiskey and bourbon. These two spirits are close cousins but being cousins they vary incredibly through their creation, their ageing, and their character. 

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