Bourbon and whiskey are two popular types of spirits that share many similarities. While both are made from grain mash that has been fermented, distilled and aged in oak barrels, there are some important distinctions between the two.
From a historical perspective, bourbon originates from America and is defined as a type of corn-based whiskey that must be aged in new charred oak barrels for at least two years in order to be called “bourbon”. Bourbon is also required to have a specific flavor profile – bold, yet sweet with notes of vanilla, caramel and toasted nuts. On the other hand, whiskey (or whisky) originated in Scotland and Ireland and can be made from any type of grain mash including barley, wheat or rye – bourbon must use at least 51% corn. Unlike bourbon, whiskey does not need to be aged in new charred barrels although many producers do so to add depth of flavor. Whiskey also has a more varied flavor profile which includes earthy tones, smoky notes and hints of dried fruit.
When it comes to production methods, there are some differences between bourbon and whiskey as well. In order for whiskey to be classified as bourbon it must follow strict guidelines set by the U.S government including: having a minimum alcohol content of 40%, being aged for at least two years and not containing any additives such as coloring or flavoring agents that could alter its flavor profile. Additionally, all bourbons must come from within the United States – whiskeys can come from anywhere else in the world but still need to meet certain criteria if they are labeled “American Whiskey” or “Bourbon-Style Whiskey”.
Overall, while there may be subtle differences between these two spirits they can both be enjoyed neat or on the rocks when served correctly - but it's important to remember that each spirit has its own unique characteristics which should always be respected when drinking either one.
Bourbon vs Whiskey