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Difference Between Bourbon and Whiskey

bourbon_whiskyBourbon vs Whiskey
Bourbon is a special type of distilled spirit made mainly with corn in America. It is a whiskey that is named after the Kentucky Bourbon County and is being made in America for the last three centuries. It was in 1964 that the American Congress accepted the Bourbon Whiskey as America’s ‘distinctive product’. Thereafter, the Federal Standards of Identity for Distilled Spirits stated that the Bourbon Whiskey must measure up to the following standards:

  • The mixture must include at least 51 per cent of corn
  • It should be distilled so that there is 80 per cent alcohol on the basis of volume
  • Must be left to ferment in charred and new oak barrels and should not be put in the barrel with more than 62.5% alcohol on the basis of volume.

Whiskey, on the other hand, covers a range of beverages with alcoholic content and can be distilled with barley, rye, wheat and corn. There are many types and classes of whiskey around the world but the main feature is that during distilling there must be at least 90 per cent of alcohol for grain and 80 per cent of alcohol for corn before water is added. This feature also makes whiskey different from vodka and spirits that are considered grain-neutral. Unlike Bourbon, whiskey must be fermented in old and partially used barrels.

Bourbon aged for at least two years is called Straight Bourbon. All Bourbons in the market today have been aged for at least four years if not more.

Meanwhile, types of whiskey include the single malt one that is credited to a single distillery, Pure pot still whiskey that is only made in Ireland, blended whiskey that is made from a combination of malt and grain whiskey, cask strength whiskey that is rare because it is bottled undiluted straight from the cask. Scotch whiskey is distilled twice and whiskey can have its own flavors depending on the country it comes from like Japan, India, Canada etc.

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  1. One outstanding error in this definition is the misuse of percent (%). The % alcohol numbers refered to in this article should be changed to read ‘proof’ – as in 80 proof. The actual percent of alcohol (ethenol) in any distilled product is 1/2 of the proof notation. Thus something that is 80 proof is actually 40% alcohol.

    In fact, this may be a subject for one of your ‘difference between’ entries.

  2. How is it the bourbon should be distilled so that there is 80% alcohol by volume. But, should not be put in the barrels when left to ferment with more than 62.5% alcohol on the basis of volume. What happens to the other 17.5% of alcohol? Is it diluted?

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