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Bourbon vs. Whiskey: What’s the Difference?

Alcohol was first invented around 7,000 BC, and ever since then, it has remained an important part of our lives. Today, there are all sorts of alcohol, such as wine, beer, spirits, and more. Whiskey is one of the most popular types of alcohol around, and it is quite versatile. 

But when it comes to bourbon vs whiskey, you might be wondering if there is really any difference between these two drinks. After all, they are both very similar, so how different are they when it comes down to the details? Keep reading and learn more about the difference between these two drinks and how they’re made below. 

What You Need To Know About Bourbon

Many people often believe that bourbon is a completely separate drink from whiskey, but this is not true. Instead, all bourbon drinks are nothing more than a type of whiskey. Specifically, bourbon is a type of American whiskey. 

This is different from types of whiskey that come specifically from certain countries. For example, scotch is a type of whiskey that is only made in Scotland. The classification of bourbon whiskey is quite strict, and it needs to conform to certain legal classifications so that it is really bourbon. 

The first regulation is that bourbon whiskey needs to come from a mix of grain that is at least 51% corn. Using corn to make this drink is essential to the overall color, flavor, and aroma of bourbon. The other classification for the creation of bourbon is that the drink needs to age for a certain period of time in oak barrels that are both charred and new. 

Of course, there are many more regulations that bourbon needs to follow in order to be legally regarded, labeled, and sold as bourbon. Most of these factors have to do with how long the drink ages in barrels, the alcohol by volume, the bottling process, and so on. However, the use of corn and charred oak barrels are two of the most important factors in the creation of bourbon. 

The Details

While bourbon needs to come from the United States, it does not need to come from a specific state to still be bourbon. For that reason, you can get unique bourbon from all different parts of the country. However, you may already know that the state of Kentucky is particularly famous for its unique bourbon whiskey. 

Bourbon is famous for its delicious flavors as well as its versatility. Due to the fact that bourbon has to age in oak barrels that have been charred, the woody flavors of the barrels will seep into the bourbon. The oak flavor is usually quite noticeable, especially if the bourbon has been aged for several years. 

The wood may also provide the drink with unique hints of caramel, black pepper, vanilla, and dried fruit. You may also be surprised by how smooth bourbon is. While it is certainly a strong drink, it will not give your taste buds too serious of a kick. 

But what is whisky, and how does it compare to bourbon?

What You Need To Know About Whiskey

While drinking bourbon is a very smooth experience, you will find that whiskey can be quite a lot stronger. The first thing you should know about whiskey is that there are many different types of whiskey. As mentioned before, bourbon is a type of whiskey, as is scotch and many other drinks. 

So, it would be incorrect to refer to whiskey as a drink within itself. Rather, whiskey is a type of alcoholic drink. Whiskey can be very different depending on where it is made, what it is made from, how it’s aged, and so on. Depending on what kind of whiskey you’re dealing with, it can come from all sorts of different grains, which, of course, will affect the flavor, aroma, and color of the resulting drink. 

Some whiskeys may come from barley, wheat, rye, or corn as with bourbon. Whiskey comes from many different countries around the world besides the United States and Scotland, such as Japan, Canada, and Ireland. The majority of whiskey, no matter where it comes from, is aged. 

Whiskey Variants

This is because unaged whiskey (also known as moonshine) is very strong and usually not pleasant to drink since it tastes and smells very closely to grain alcohol or rubbing alcohol. The aging process allows the drink to mature, so it loses these unpleasant alcoholic notes. Instead, these notes are replaced with the much warmer and more delicate notes of oak, caramel, vanilla, and more. 

Whiskey is usually aged in wooden oak barrels, but on occasion, the drink may also age in steel barrels or barrels made of other wood types. The flavor of whiskey will vary drastically depending on what kind of whiskey it is. 

In general, whiskey is quite strong. However, some types may have sweet notes of vanilla and fruit while others may be very strong and dark with flavors of black pepper, oak, and smoke. 

All About Bourbon vs. Whiskey

When considering bourbon vs. whiskey, some people tend to get confused because bourbon is a type of whiskey. Whiskey in itself, on the other hand, can vary depending on where it comes from and what it’s made of. In general, these drinks are quite similar. 

Bourbon is quite smooth and warm, and it always comes from the United States. Whiskey, on the other hand, can come from many different countries, and it may be sweet and mild or harsh and strong. If you want to get involved with tasting whiskey, click here.

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