Thursday, November 29, 2012

Know Your Whiskey: The Difference Between Scotch and Bourbon

Both Scotch and Bourbon, two of the most popular distilled achololic beverage in the world, are merely different types of whiskey.  As whiskey is a strictly regulated spirit worldwide, both Scotch and Bourbon share unifying characteristics, such as the fermentation of grains, dstillation, and aging in wooden barrels. 

So what's the difference between Scotch and Bourbon, you may ask.  In other words, what makes Scotch Scotch and Bourbon Bourbon.  In this article, I will explain to you the major differences in a simple, easy to understand, format.

1) Location
The most obvious difference between the two acholol is the geographic location in which they are distilled.  Scotch is distilled in Scotland, while Bourbon is distilled in America, more specifically, in the state of Kentucky. 

2) Spelling
Scotch is spelled "whisky", and Bourbon is spelled "whiskey".  They are really two slightly differently spelt words for the same thing. 

Here’s a quick way to remember how some of the world’s biggest producers spell their products:
  • Countries that have E’s in their names (UnitEd StatEs and IrEland) tend to spell it whiskEy (plural whiskeys)
  • Countries without E’s in their names (Canada, Scotland, and Japan) spell it whisky (plural whiskies)
3) Distilling
Scotch whisky is made from whole barley and water, and are aged in oak casks for no less than three years.  Scotch is then bottled at no less than 40% alcohol by volume (80 proof).

Bourbon, on the other hand, may be distilled from corn, rye, or barley grains, or a two-thirds corn and other grain mixture.  It is then aged in new charred oak barrels for at least two years.  By law, the barrels cannot be reused, and are discarded or reused by Scotch producers.  Bourbon is then bottled at no more than 80% alcohol by volume (160 proof).
4) Flavor
Scotch tends to take on a smokey flavor, due to the peat-smoked oat casks during distillation.  Bourbon, on the other hand, tends to be sweeter, due to the corn grains used.  If Bourbon is distilled with rye grains instead of corn, they tend to be more dry and not as sweet.

This about sums up the major differences between Scotch and Bourbon.  Bottoms-up, my friend, and stay classy.


  1. Great post. Definitely an interesting read.
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  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Your are correct that bourbon must be aged at least 2 years in brand new charred oak barrels, but additionally in order to be called bourbon it must be at least 51% corn.

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