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whiskey and bourbon bottles side by side

Know the difference between bourbon and whiskey

Bourbon is often called American whiskey, although this is not entirely true. The recipe for these drinks is similar, but the production of bourbon is based solely on American traditions of distillation. Although they are, in fact, close relatives, the difference between the drinks is significant. What is the difference between bourbon and whiskey?

Raw materials for production

The raw material for the distillation of bourbon is corn, which should be at least 51% of the volume of raw materials. Cereals can also be used: rye, barley, wheat, but the corn content should be at least half.

Whiskey on the other hand is a purely cereal drink. Depending on the variety, rye, wheat and barley are used in different ratios for its production.

Manufacturing technology

For the preparation of classic whiskey malting is required. Malting is the germination, drying and peeling of grains. This is done to isolate enzymes and break down starch into sugar.

Classic whiskey must be filtered before bottling. The technology of bourbon production is different: the raw materials are crushed, soaked and boiled. Then it is saccharified by malt, fermented with yeast and distilled.

There is a difference in the way they are matured too. For bourbon, only new American oak barrels that are always burnt inside are used. The term of exposure of the drink is not less than two, but generally above four years.

The requirements for whiskey barrels are somewhat different: for aging, previously used oak barrels are used – it is better from sherry, cognac, madeira, calvados or even bourbon. The duration of whiskey aging depends on the variety: Scottish whisky – from 3 years, Irish – on average 5 years, Canadian – 6 years.

Place of manufacture

For traditional whiskey there are no restrictions: it is produced in Scotland, Ireland, Canada and some Asian countries. On the labels of Scotch whiskey it says “Whiskey” or “Scotch” and for Irish brands only “Whiskey”.

Drinks from other countries are labeled with the geographic location of manufacture (Canadian whiskey).

As for bourbon, everything here is much stricter. According to the law adopted in the USA in 1964, an alcohol is called bourbon only if it is produced in the country according to strictly traditional methods.

Taste, color and smell

Sophisticated manufacturing technology and the possibility of experiment provides a wide range of taste and aroma of whiskey. Irish whiskey can be recognized by the bitter notes of the drink, while Scottish whisky is characterized by a smoky aroma.

Ordinary bourbon is simpler, its taste is more saturated and has a sweetish tint. Aging in new barrels gives the drink an amber or dark golden hue. The color of bourbon is darker and more saturated than that of whiskey. Unlike whiskey, aging periods on bourbon bottles are not indicated.

How did Bourbon get its name

Bourbon appeared in the USA at the turn of the 18th and 19th centuries. According to one version, the county of southern Kentucky, where the settlers launched the production of whiskey, as well as the drink itself, were named after the famous family of French aristocrats. Another legend says that the bourbon owes its name to the street of the same name in New Orleans, where it was especially revered.

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