Everybody knows Whiskey. Everybody knows Bourbon. However, only a small percentage know the difference between Whiskey and Bourbon. The difference is actually much simpler than you might think. However, it makes a huge difference in the finished product.
To be called “Bourbon” it has to meet a few criteria:
- Bourbon is to be made with at least 51% corn in the mashbill.
- Bourbon is aged in new charred oak barrels.
- It must be made in the United States or its territories.
- Bourbon mash must be distilled to 160 proof or lower, enter the barrel at no more than 125 proof and the bottled product must be above 80 proof. Additionally, no flavors or dyes can be added. Only water is permitted.
The last rule is a little convoluted but overall, the rules are quite simple. Let’s take a look at the criteria whiskey must meet.
Whiskey only has to follow two of the rules bourbon does:
- Whiskey is aged in new charred oak barrels.
- The mash must be distilled to 160 proof or lower, enter the barrel at no more than 125 proof and the bottled product must be above 80 proof. Additionally, no flavors or dyes can be added. Only water is permitted.
There’s a handy trick when it comes to remembering which is which. It’s like the squares and rectangles rule. All Bourbons are Whiskies but not all Whiskies are Bourbons.
Whiskey can also be made worldwide. That’s why you see Japanese or Canadian whiskies on the shelf but not bourbons.
There you go! Now you are a part of the Whiskey Wisemen. You can proudly proclaim your newfound knowledge at your next bourbon or whiskey tasting! Stay tuned for more whiskey lessons where we’ll dive a bit deeper into the classifications of whiskey around the world. Cheers!