Difference Between Bourbon and Whiskey

Bourbon vs Whiskey

Between Bourbon and Whiskey, we can identify a number of differences though the Bourbon is a type of whiskey. While whiskey, which originally comes from Scotland, is produced around the world, bourbon should be produced in America to gain the name. They both undergo somewhat similar production process. An interesting fact about bourbon is that, when it was first made, bourbon was not so famous or much in demand as today. In the earlier days, it was considered cheap, bitter, and very bad. However, with the recipe changing and years’ of work, by now, bourbon has become one of the expensive drinks that are produced under the United States government’s supervision.

What is Whiskey?

Whiskey is a form of distilled alcoholic beverage which has been manufactured from the fermented grain mash. Grains of different types are being used for different varieties of Whiskey. Some of the common types of these grains include barley, malted barley, rye, malted rye, wheat, as well as corn. Whiskey is manufactured and then left for aging in casks made of wood. The wood used for aging casks is usually white oak. However, in United States, the corn whiskey is not aged.


Whiskey is a spirit which is made available across the globe in a number of competing origins and can be found in different classes and types. The most typical characteristics of different classes and types that are available are the fermentation of grains, distillation of these fermented grains, and aging of the mixture in a wood container. The whiskey made in India is different from other types of whiskeys as Indian Whiskey does not need to undergo fermentation of grains and the most common basis of this whiskey is fermented molasses. The requirement for aging the whiskey in any type of wooden container is also not necessary and is sometimes not followed at some places.

What is Bourbon?

Bourbon is a specific and distinctive product of United States of America which contains at least 51 percent corn as its constituent. In other words, Bourbon is a kind of American Whiskey which is a barrel-aged distilled spirit usually made from corn. It is distilled to make 80 percent of alcohol on the basis of volume. This type of American Whiskey is left for fermentation in new oak barrels, which are charred. An important thing in this process is that this should not be put in such barrels with more than 62.5% of alcohol on the volume basis. This spirit derives its name from the historical association with an area known as Old Bourbon. This place is near the currently called Bourbon County in Kentucky and has been named after the French House of Bourbon royal family.

Difference Between Bourbon and Whiskey

Bourbon has been produced since the 18th century. Bourbon has been made in a number of places in United States for a very long time, but it has got a strong association with Kentucky. Bourbon is normally sold as Tennessee Whiskey and has to follow the legal definition of Bourbon under Canadian law to be able to get sold. A number of Tennessee Whiskey makers do not label their products as Bourbon and insist upon the thing that it is a different type of whiskey, when they market their product.

What is the difference between Bourbon and Whiskey?

• Bourbon is a type of whiskey.

• Bourbon is specifically made in America and is made from corn while Whiskey covers a range of beverages which contain a content of Alcohol.

• Whiskey, unlike the Bourbon, can be distilled with barley, rye, wheat, and corn and even malted barley and malted rye.

• Whiskey can be found across the globe in a number of types and classes, but the main feature of it is that it should contain at least 90 percent of alcohol and 80 percent of alcohol in cases of grain and corn respectively before the addition of water. Bourbon is made in America only. Bourbon is distilled to make 80 percent of alcohol on the basis of volume.

• Unlike Bourbon, Whiskey, of any type and origin, can be fermented in old barrels and barrels that have been used earlier. Bourbon needs to be stored in new charred oak barrels.


Images Courtesy:

  1. Whiskey by Cafeirlandais (CC BY 2.5)
  2. Bourbon by  Analogue Kid (CC BY 2.5)