Bourbon vs Whiskey: Difference and Comparison

Alcoholic beverages have attained a special part in special occasions and parties. Drinking an optimum amount of alcohol with friends is considered cheerful.

With the increasing demand for alcoholic beverages, the beverage industry has developed various varieties and flavors of Alcohol. But classical drinks always remain iconic.

The most known alcoholic beverages are Wine, Rum, Whiskey, Beer, Tequila, etc. But all these types of beverages also have some subtypes which are different.

Key Takeaways

  1. Bourbon is a whiskey made from at least 51% corn and aged in charred oak barrels.
  2. Whiskey is a distilled alcoholic beverage made from fermented grain mash.
  3. Bourbon is a specific type of whiskey mainly produced in the United States.

Bourbon vs Whiskey

Bourbon is a type of barrel-aged American whiskey that is made from corn or maize, which is mashed, germinated, dried, boiled, mashed, and then fermented. Whiskey is a spirit beverage made with malted grain like rye, barley, corn, and wheat and is aged with wooden casks made of charred white oak.

Bourbon vs Whiskey

Bourbon is a type of Whiskey that is considered a classical one. It differs from Whiskey in the type of grain used and the container used to ferment it. It is exclusively made in America.

It is a distilled alcoholic drink. It gets its unique sweet taste from the corn used to make it.

Whiskey is made by mashing and fermenting grains. Different grain varieties give different types of whiskey. It was first made and introduced in the 13 century.

Irish and Scottish people were the first to produce whiskey. Americans used Whiskey as currency during the time of the American Revolution.

Whiskey was introduced to Indians in the 19 century by the British.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonBourbonWhiskey
The grain usedCorn Rye, wheat, barley, and Corn
Aging barrel Charred white oak barrelRum casks or Sherry casks
Country Made only in the USMade in Ireland, Scotland, Japan, the USA, and many other countries of the world
TasteSweeter compared to Whiskey Normally Bitter
Flavor Smoky, Caramel, Vanilla, or OakDry fruits, Peaty, sometimes floral

What is Bourbon?

Bourbon is a whiskey so it must be made with a type of grain. Corn is used to make bourbon. The corn must be mashed.

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Initially, the corn is germinated, then it is dried, and the dried corn will be boiled and mashed. This mashed component is then subjected to fermentation.

This mash must have a minimum of 51 percent corn.

The aging of bourbon is done in wood caskets. Bourbon mash must be fermented only in white oak barrels. These barrels must be charred to give bourbon its smoky flavor.

This specialized casket gives the bourbon a nutty flavor and caramelized taste. Aging must be done for at least two years.

Bottled bourbon must have only 40 percent alcohol. Kentucky is an American state famous for making Bourbon. Kentucky Bourbons are iconic, just like French Champagne.

This type of Whiskey is named after a place in Kentucky called Bourbon County. Bourbon can be made anywhere in America, not only in Kentucky.

Additional colors and flavors cannot be added to Bourbon. Bourbon is used to make popular whiskey cocktails. Mint julep is one of the famous drinks made with bourbon.

Since Corn is the major ingredient in bourbon making, it has a slight note of vanilla.

Woodford Reserve, Hudson baby bourbon, Brother’s bond bourbon, Elijah Craig, etc., are some of the famous Bourbon brands.


What is Whiskey?

Whiskey is commonly made from barley. Barley is soaked in water and left to germinate. Then the germinated grains are dried. Then it is mashed, and the liquid obtained is called wort.

Yeast is added to this wort and fermented. Then it is distilled and allowed to mature. There are no specifications for the barrels used to age the whiskey.

Rum casks, sherry casks, or whiskey barrels can be used to age whiskey. Previously used caskets can also be used.

There are various types of Whiskey, like bourbon, Japanese, Irish, Tennessee, Canadian, etc. Some whiskeys can be expensive.

The price determines the quality of the drink. Normal-ranged whiskeys are used in cocktails and normal drinking.

Highly expensive Whiskeys are saved for special occasions. Scotch is a whiskey with a diverse taste range and is preferred for its classic touch. It is classical Scottish whiskey.

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The alcohol content of every type of whiskey differs. Scotch whisky may have 60-70 percent alcohol.

Whiskies are provided with an age statement it indicates the number of years the whiskey has been aged.

Rye, Wheat, and barley also can be used to make whiskey.

Whiskey is also gifted on special occasions. Jim Beam, Johnny Walker, Jameson Irish Whiskey, Evan Williams, Canadian Mist, and Diageo are some of the famous Whiskies.

Whisky is normally consumed neat, that is, without mixing anything else. But it is also served with ice cubes and made into cocktails.

tennessee whiskey

Main Differences Between Bourbon and Whiskey

  1. Bourbon is made using Corn as the basic ingredient the mash must contain 51 percent corn, but, Whiskey can be made with various grains like rye, barley, wheat, and corn.
  2. Bourbon is not aged for a long time the aging process takes 2 years, but, Whiskies are aged for a long time.
  3. Bourbon must be aged in White oak barrels. These barrels must be new. Whereas, Whiskey can be aged in any barrel that need not be new.
  4. Bourbons should be made in the USA. Bourbon made outside the US cannot be considered as a Bourbon. Whiskies can be made in Scotland, Ireland, Japan, and other countries.
  5. The barrels used for bourbon-making must be charred before the maturity process, but the whiskey barrels need not be charred.
Difference Between Bourbon and Whiskey

Last Updated : 27 June, 2023

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9 thoughts on “Bourbon vs Whiskey: Difference and Comparison”

  1. I don’t believe it’s accurate to state that more expensive Whiskeys are of higher quality, as many factors contribute to the pricing of alcohol.

  2. I find this article quite comprehensive, as it provides a comparison between Bourbon and Whiskey along with some additional information about both types of alcohol.

  3. I also believe the specifics on the amount of corn used and the type of barrel used for Bourbon making are particularly interesting.

  4. The comparison table is nice and all, but I’m naturally not inclined to believe that any type of alcohol is ‘better’ than another.


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