Bourbon vs. Whiskey: The Difference Explained

If brown liquor is something you have just discovered and realized that you could really enjoy some of those drinks, you might be starting to get interested in learning the difference between bourbon and whiskey. This is a difference that not all people are actually aware of, but a true liquor connoisseur definitely knows about all the subtleties that make these two drinks different. Click this to get more info on the topic.

You don’t need to be a true liquor connoisseur, though, in order to learn about the differences between these two drinks. Wouldn’t you like to be perfectly aware of what it is that you are drinking, no matter how little you actually know about liquor in the first place? Plus, wouldn’t it be nice to be able to explain these dissimilarities to your friends who don’t know the first thing about these spirits?

I suppose I can guess the answers to those questions, just as I suppose that you have found your way to this page for a reason. No matter the actual purpose of learning about whiskey and bourbon, the bottom line is that you want to get your facts straight and finally understand what it is that makes these drinks different. So, let us get started one drink at a time.


Although the actual origins of whiskey are open to speculations, the Scottish and the Irish both lay claims to it. If we are to trust written accounts, whiskey first appeared during the 1400s. Sure, it probably dates way back, but the point is that first written accounts about it appeared in the late 1400s. Today, it is one of the most diverse spirits in the world.

Here’s more on the topic of these spirits:

This spirit is fermented from a mash of cereal grains, such as barley, corn, rye, wheat, and similar. There are definitely a lot of different styles of making the drink, and those styles all have their own specifications. Basically, whiskey can be made in various ways and there are now a few iconic styles such as rye, scotch and, of course, bourbon.


So, there you have it. I suppose that the difference has been made at least a little bit clearer to you with the above explanation on what whiskey actually is and how it is made. To put it simply, bourbon is actually a type of whiskey. In fact, it is one of the most prominent styles. That kind of a reputation isn’t so easily gained, though.

If you thought that manufacturers can simply attach the label “bourbon” to their spirits and then sell them that way without actually having to account for what the drink is made of, then you were certainly wrong. The truth is that this label is rather difficult to earn. In other words, there are specifications and requirements that need to be met in order for a spirit to be called bourbon.

For starters, in order to be designated as straight bourbon, this drink needs to have been kept and aged in new charred oak barrels for at least two years. Other types can be aged in barrels that have previously been used for ageing certain other spirits. Bourbon, however, has to be kept in new ones and it also mustn’t contain any colorings or additives.

In addition to that, one of the most known prerequisites is the concentration of corn in this spirit. Now we are talking about the manufacturing process. As I have mentioned above, whiskey is generally made from a mash of cereal grains. In order for it to be designated as bourbon, it has to be distilled from a mixture of grains that is at least 51% corn. This is exactly what gives the drink its recognizable, sweet taste.

The Bottom Line

When you take all of these things into consideration, there is a simple way to explain the difference between these two drinks. Essentially, bourbon is a type of whiskey that is recognizable for its distinct manufacturing and ageing process. Those two processes make it different than some other types of this particular spirit and those two processes make it recognizable and held in high regard all over the world.