What’s the difference in Whiskey & Bourbon?

Jack Daniel's is the top-selling American whiskey in the world
By Michael Maynor


You have probably heard the saying before, All bourbon is whiskey, but not all whiskey is bourbon, but what does that mean exactly? A strict set of government regulations defines what is what and it’s serious! Below are the guidelines that must be met.

What is Whiskey?

Whiskey is distilled from a fermented blend of grains, commonly corn, barley, rye, and the wheat-that blend is what distillers call a mash bill. Depending on what ratio of grains comprises the mash bill is part of how the resulting liquid is either categorized as whiskey or bourbon.

What makes a Whiskey a Bourbon?

  1. Its made in the United States of America ( Bourbon can be produced outside of Kentucky)
  2. Produced from a fermented mash of at least 51% corn
  3. Distilled at no more than 160 proof
  4. Stored at no more than 125 proof in new, charred oak barrels.
  5. Aged for a minimum of two years to be considered a straight bourbon
  6. Free of additives.

These guidelines are the reason that all bourbon is whiskey, but not all whiskey can be called bourbon. You also have Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey think Jim Beam, that must follow the above guidelines, but has to be a product of Kentucky.

So there you have it! An introduction to Whiskey and the difference between whiskey and bourbon

is a native North Carolinian with a passion for the sporting lifestyle and all things Southern. He can't stop buying books and loves collecting old duck decoys. He seems ok, but deep down inside, he wants to be back in Africa on Safari. John 3:16