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Bourbon Vs Whiskey – What’s The Difference?

What’s a bourbon? And what’s a whiskey? Join us as we explore the difference between these great spirits.

Bourbon v Whiskey

Americans love their bourbon, and at First Choice Liquor we do too. But you might have seen bourbon called ‘bourbon whiskey’, ‘Kentucky whiskey’, or ‘Tennessee whiskey’. To add to the confusion, there’s Irish whiskey and Scotch whisky. So, what’s the difference? Is bourbon a whiskey? And where does Kentucky come into it? We investigate the difference so you can drink all the wiser!

Bourbon vs Whiskey - Geography

So what’s a bourbon anyway? Well it starts with where it’s made. Bourbons must be created in the USA, and 95% of these come from Kentucky, USA. For example, Markers Mark Bourbon is made in Loretto, Kentucky, while an hour drive away in Lawrenceburg, the Wild Turkey Distillery produce their range. Whiskey on the other hand is made in Ireland, and in Scotland they call it Scotch Whisky, leaving the ‘e’ out. The difference in spelling goes back to differences in the Scottish and Irish Gaelic languages.


Bourbon Vs Whiskey – Ingredients

The main difference between a bourbon and a whiskey is in the fermentation process. Whiskey is distilled from fermented grain such as barley, corn, rye, and wheat, and is generally matured in wooden containers. This gives the whiskey a distinctive brown colour and taste. Then what is a bourbon? On the other hand, a bourbon, or American Whiskey, must have at least 51% corn in its makeup. Why corn? Because Kentucky has historically always grown lots of it, so it was readily available! While both are aged in charred oak barrels, bourbon uses new barrels. A great example is our ever popular Wild Turkey Bourbon.

Bourbon Vs Whiskey – Flavour

Taste a bourbon, and then a whiskey, and you’ll notice that a bourbon is generally sweeter. That’s due to the high concentrate of corn, Kentucky’s most popular crop. This makes sense for those that have eaten corn off the cob – it’s sweet, right? Southern Comfort and Wild Turkey 86 proof are just two of the many bourbons in our range, known for their sweetness.


Because bourbon is sweeter, it’s a great spirit to mix with. Take a look at our Top 5 Bourbon Mixes article to see how well it can go with cola, coffee, beer or Cointreau. It’s also a top ingredient in recipes such as hearty slow-cooked stews or sweet and sticky glazes for fried foods, such as ribs or chicken wings.


So there you have it. Bourbon Vs Whiskey! Similar but with three main differences. Why not discover both styles today and see what works for you!

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