Difference Between Scotch Bourbon And Whiskey

Scotch Vs Bourbon: Full Comparison

The real difference between scotch, whiskey, and bourbon

Last Updated on August 10, 2022 by Lydia Martin

Are you stuck in your local liquor store trying to choose between Scotch and bourbon? This situation is not strange as both whiskey varieties look almost the same. However, they have completely different flavors and solid differences that even some seasoned enthusiasts are unaware of.

Read on as we unveil every difference between Scotch vs Bourbon.

Whiskey Is A Distilled Grain Spirit

According to Whiskey Advocate, whiskey is a distilled spirit that is made from grain. All other distilled liquors are made from other sources. For example, brandy, such as Armagnac or Cognac, comes from grapes. Whiskey makers use malted barley or other grains to make the spirit. They soak the grains in hot water to release the sugars and then add yeast to ferment the sugar into alcohol. Finally, they distill the liquor and age it in barrels.

Bourbon, Scotch, and rye are all types of whiskey. There are other types of whiskey as well.

It Doesnt Need To Come From Kentucky

You may have heard that in order to be a bourbon, the whiskey has to be from Kentucky. Thatâs not quite truebourbon can be made outside that state. But to be designated a âKentucky bourbon,â the spirit has to be both distilled and aged in Kentucky. The name âbourbonâ even comes from old Bourbon, what is now Bourbon County, Kentucky. Most bourbon is made in Kentucky, but not all, so it has become synonymous with the spirit, much as the Champagne region in France is synonymous with champagne, even though sparkling wine using similar methods is produced elsewhere. So next time you order a bourbon, you know that what youâll be getting in your glass isnât just a whiskey, but a specific kind of whiskey.

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Bourbon Has To Hit Certain Abv Marks

When bourbon is barreled, it also has to hit a certain proof, or alcohol content in the spirit. The mash must be distilled at 160 proof or less, and aged in barrels until it is no more than 125 proof or less. Before bottling, bourbon is filtered and diluted down to no less than 80 proof . Other whiskeys have different ABV standards for barreling and distilling. The minimum bottling strength for Scotch whiskey, for example, is also 80 proof or 40 percent ABV, but there is no maximum or minimum ABV for the distillate.

What Do American Whiskeys Taste Like

Learn the difference between Bourbon, Scotch, Irish Whisky, and Rye ...

Bourbon has a caramel like sweetness and vanilla tones. Generally the sweetest of the whisky family. A bit of smokiness from being barreled in charred oak. Tennessee whiskey tastes kinda like bourbon. Some say it is a bit mellower, slightly sweeter, and a tinge smoky or sooty due to the additional charcoal filtering. Rye a spicier flavor profile of bourbon and a touch less sweet. Bottled in Bond tend to have a little more kick since they are on the higher proof side, otherwise simply put, they are a nice bourbon.

Things to Consider: A lot of classic whiskey cocktails were originally crafted with Rye whiskeys spicier and slightly less sweet flavor profile in mind. Although today youll most likely find bars making their whiskey cocktails from bourbon over rye. Rye is great for a classic Manhattan or Old Fashioned. For the sours, Bourbons sweeter profile makes a mean Whiskey Sour. Personally, we feel they are like ones children, we love them all, but some days you love one a little more than the others.

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How Would You Describe The Taste Of Bourbon Compared To Scotch

“Although there are many different tastes within both categories, bourbon generally has a pleasant sweetness to it from the corn and a bit of smoke from the charring of the barrels,” says Polise. “Scotch is sometimes described as having a wood and fire taste, but without the traditional burn that some of the higher proof bourbons have.”

Some bourbons are aged in barrels that formerly held beer, which allows a hint of beer to subtly accentuate the flavor of the whiskey. New Holland Brewing’s Beer Barrel Bourbon is a great example. After aging in new American oak barrels, the bourbon then spends some time in the barrel the company uses to brew their Dragon Milk stout in.

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When Would You Want To Use Each Type Of Whiskey

The most well-known whiskey cocktails, the Old Fashioned and the Manhattan, can be made with either bourbon or rye whiskey, according to the drinkers preference, as can the Whiskey Sour, the Hot Toddy, and the Boulevardier and its cousin, the Old Pal.

Some cocktails call specifically for one or the other. The Mint Julep, for example, is always made with bourbon, while the Sazerac is strictly rye-based .

When considering which whiskey to use, keep in mind that rye generally makes a drier cocktail, while bourbons oily mouthfeel can enhance the drinks body. Regardless of your choice, make sure the whiskeys proof is appropriate: Too strong and it will overpower the rest of the ingredients whereas at only 40% ABV, it could get lost. Whiskeys at 43% to 46% ABV hit the middle-of-the-road mark for most cocktails.

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Scotch Vs Bourbon In Summary

Bourbon and Scotch are both types of whisky. Bourbon is produced in the United States and is mainly made from corn mash, while Scotch is produced in Scotland and is typically made from malted grains. While theyre both produced differently, have different regulations, and a wide variety of flavor profiles, theyre both excellent options for sipping at almost any occasion. Have you heard of the woman in Britain who recently celebrated her 112th birthday? When interviewed, she attributed her good health to sipping a dram of whiskey each night before bed. So lets raise our glasses to long life, good health, and excellent whisky. Cheers.

Bourbon Must Be Produced In The Us

Difference between Whiskey, Scotch & Bourbon

Another answer for the question: What is the difference between whisky and bourbon? relies on the production country, as explained on the paragraphs above. However, theres a common misconception that bourbon has to be made in Kentucky. And, thats not quite true. While its true that Kentucky accounts for around 90% of the worlds bourbon, by legal definition it only has to be produced in the US.

Most bourbon makers from Kentucky, however, would disagree with this statement, stating that Kentucky boasts the perfect climate and conditions for making the perfect bourbon.

Interested in getting to know more about Bourbons history? Check out this article:

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Is Corn Liquor And Moonshine The Same Thing

Corn whiskey is a type of alcoholic beverage produced mostly from corn in the United States. Corn whiskey differs from the conventional American moonshine, in which sugar is typically added to the mash, in that it is produced using a regular mash method and is subject to the federal tax and identification rules that apply to alcoholic beverages.

Bourbon Is Whiskey Scotch Is Whisky

The “whiskey” spelling is used for American and Irish spirits, including bourbon. Conversely, “whisky” is used by the rest of the world, including Europe, Australia, Japan and, of course, Scotland. Regardless of spelling, all whiskey or whisky must be distilled to a minimum of 40 percent and a maximum of 94.8 percent alcohol by volume .

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What Is Canadian Whisky

There are two main factors shaping Canadian Whisky, Prohibition and rye. Initially rye was one of the few crops which could survive eastern Canadas harsh winters. Eventually better farmlands discovered to the west lessened ryes importance. Still today Canadian whisky can be called rye whisky even though it is more likely to use corn than any other grain. There is much less rye used in most Canadian whisky than in American rye whiskies where the largest ingredient must be rye. And in regards to Prohibition, its chokehold on American production led to a boom in Canada. Canadian whiskies became the leading supplier to speakeasies in the States. Even today, America buys about 75% of the whisky Canada produces.

  • Most relaxed rules of the major whisky nations
  • Must be mashed, distilled and aged in Canada
  • Must be aged in small wood for not less than three years
  • May contain caramel and flavouring.
  • Must possess the aroma, taste and character generally attributed to Canadian whisky I know, vague right? But thats what their FDA stipulates.
  • Similar to Scotch, each Canadian Whisky is generally the product of a single distillery .
  • Regardless of grain, Canadian distillers usually create two whiskies and then combine them together to create the final product.
  • Can be called Canadian Whisky, Canadian Rye Whisky or Rye Whisky.
  • There Are A Lot Of Traditions Techniques And Culture Shared Between Bourbon Scotch And Whisky But What Are Their Characteristic Differences


    You may have heard the phrase, âAll bourbon and Scotch are whiskies but not all whiskies are bourbon or Scotch.â But what does that mean? And is it âWhiskeyâ or âWhiskyâ?

    If you donât know the answers to these questions, youâre not alone. Many people struggle to understand the difference between these three distinct distilled grain spirits. And while they are related, there is a wealth of history, geography and processes that make them quite different.

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    What Does Scotch Taste Like

    Its going to vary, especially depending on where in Scotland they come from . Whiskies from Islay, like Lagavulin and Laphroaig, often tend to have a strong smoky peat flavor unless they are described as un-peated, while those coming from Speyside tend to be lighter and sweeter. Lowland Scotch also tend to be relatively sweet and lighter. How long a Scotch was aged as well as what type of barrels it was aged in also heavily influence the taste.

    Scotch is a beverage with strong character and even the sweeter styles dont have the same sweetness of bourbon to mellow that out. Yet as ones palate gets more experienced, the flavors being to open up and there is the discovery of flavors ranging from honey, almond, grassy, leather, nectarine, vanilla, dried fruit alongside the vary levels of smokiness ranging from barely discernible to like bonfire-esque.

    Differences Between Scotch Whiskey And Bourbon

    Karen is a wine, cocktails, and food enthusiast. She holds a California Wine Appellation Specialist certificate from the San Francisco wine school and a Bar Smarts mixology certificate and bartends for charitable events.

    Learn about our Editorial Policy.

    When considering spirits, some people struggle to understand the difference between whiskey, bourbon, and scotch. While there are basic similarities in scotch, bourbon, and whiskey, each has characteristics and manufacturing practices that make them unique.

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    How Do Bourbon And Rye Differ

    Bourbon can only be made in the United States, whereas rye whiskey can, and does, come from all over: Canada, the Netherlands, Germany, the U.K., and even Australia.

    Nothing, other than water, can be added to bourbon, whether or not it is labeled straight. For rye whiskey, the rules are a little different. Straight rye cannot have any additives, but if the rye isnt labeled as straight, or if its a blend of straight ryes, up to 2.5% of the volume can be harmless coloring/flavoring/blending materials. Since these additives do not have to be disclosed, its impossible to tell which ryes might include them, although Templeton Rye is a well-known example.

    Flavor-wise, bourbon tends to be sweeter and has a more oily mouthfeel than rye due to its high corn content. Common flavor notes in bourbon include vanilla, caramel, nuts, oak, dark fruit, chocolate, and mild spice.

    Rye whiskeys flavor profile can vary considerably depending on its overall rye content. A minimum-51% rye, like those traditionally made by the big Kentucky distilleries, will taste quite similar to bourbon. But 100% ryea style that often comes from Canadatypically has rich spice and herbal notes, enhanced by flavors derived from barrel aging such as vanilla and oak.

    How To Enjoy Whiskey

    The difference between rye, bourbon, and scotch

    Whiskey is a versatile beverage that can be enjoyed in many ways.

    Most people drink whiskey straight or neat, which means by itself. Its typically recommended to drink whiskey this way at first to get a better idea of its flavor and aroma.

    That said, adding a splash of water can help bring out its more subtle flavours. Additionally, you can drink whiskey with ice, commonly known as on the rocks.

    If you dont like whiskeys taste by itself, you can try it in a cocktail.

    Here are some popular whiskey cocktails:

    • Old Fashioned. This cocktail is made from a combination of whiskey, bitters, sugar, and water.
    • Manhattan. Made from a combination of rye or bourbon whiskey, bitters, and sweet vermouth , a Manhattan is typically served with cherries.
    • Classic highball. This drink is made from any style of whiskey, ice cubes, and ginger ale.
    • Mint julep. Typically served at derbies, a mint julep is made from a combination of bourbon whiskey, sugar , mint leaves, and crushed ice.
    • Whiskey sour. This cocktail is made from a combination of bourbon whiskey, lemon juice, and simple syrup. Its commonly served with ice and cherries.
    • John Collins. Made similarly to a whiskey sour, this drink also contains club soda.

    Keep in mind that many of these drinks contain added sugars and can pack a lot of calories. Like any alcoholic or sweetened beverage, its best to enjoy these drinks sparingly.

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    What Is American Whiskey

    In the beginning Europeans first arrived to the US and they found an abundance of rye, giving birth to rye whiskey in the US. Later after settling into present day Kentucky, corn grew very well and Americas treasure, bourbon came to be. There are many kinds of whiskeys made in the US ranging from unregulated moonshine to white whiskey to the highly regulated Bottled in Bond Bourbon. Bourbon, Tennessee Whiskey, and Rye are the primary types well take a look at.

    Some Whiskey Scotch And Bourbon Definitions

    A spirit is defined as a liquor that contains no added sugar and is at least 20% alcohol . Liquor with added sugar is known as a liqueur. Examples of liqueurs are Grand Marnier, Frangelico and schnapps. Liquors generally have an alcoholic content higher than 30% ABV.

    A vapor is a substance in its gaseous state as distinguished from its liquid or solid state. To vaporize means to convert into vapor. It means to convert a solid or a liquid into a diffused matter, suspended in the air.

    To distill means to purify a liquid by vaporizing it and then to condense it into a vapor by cooling the vapor and finally to collect the resulting liquid. Liquid to gas and then to liquid again, this time purified liquid.

    The product of distilling a liquid is called . The process of creating a distillation is also called a distillation .

    In brewing, mashing is the term given to the start of the brewing process. Crushed grains are mixed into a porridge-like mixture called mash .Malt and other starches are transformed into sugars and proteins.

    To mash means to mix powdered malt with hot water and then strain it.

    Mash is a uniform mass made by crushing a substance into a soft pulp, sometimes with the addition of a liquid.

    For example: the barley is dried out over peat fires and is mashed with water that then flows through the peat..

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    Whiskey Scotch Bourbon And Rye

    Lots to unpack here. The basics, according to Encyclopedia Britannica:

    Whiskey can be any of a variety of distilled liquors that are made from a fermented mash of cereal grains and aged in wooden containers, which are usually constructed of oak. Commonly used grains are corn, barley malt, rye, and wheat.

    The difference between whiskey and whisky is where the stuff is made: in the United States and Ireland, its spelled whiskey in Scotland, Canada, and Japan, its whisky.

    Now, for the differences between Scotch, bourbon, and rye. Back to Encyclopedia Britannica:

    Scotch is a whisky that gets its distinctive smoky flavor from the process in which it is made: the grain, primarily barley, is malted and then heated over a peat fire. A whisky cannot be called Scotch unless it is entirely produced and bottled in Scotland.

    Bourbon, a whiskey that was first produced in Kentucky, U.S., uses at least 51 percent mash from corn in its production. It also uses a sour mash process that is, the mash is fermented with yeast and includes a portion from a mash that has already been fermented. U.S. regulations specify that in order for a whiskey to be called bourbon, it must be made in the United States.

    And rye whiskey? Its a whiskey that uses a rye mash or a rye and malt mash. In the United States, regulations stipulate that the mash must be at least 51 percent rye in order for it to be called rye whiskey. In Canada, regulations do not specify a minimum percentage of rye.


    Heaven Hill Green Label

    Difference Between Scotch Whiskey And Bourbon

    Heaven Hill Green Label is a very affordable bourbon is so well known that it can actually be hard to get your hands on a bottle. This bourbon is made only to be for sale in the state of Kentucky and offers residence a cheap bourbon for drinking. The quality is significantly beyond what you would expect from the price point. It is definitely a bourbon worth traveling for.

    Watershed Bourbon comes from the Watershed distillery which quickly gained popularity after they released a bottled version of the Old Fashioned cocktail. While most bottled versions of cocktails do not compare in flavor and/or quality, this bottled cocktail will give even the best bartender a run for their money. One of the things that make their bourbon so unique is that it has a mash bill that combines corn, wheat, rye, barley, and spelt. It has a more diverse flavor than most of its competitors and is offered a reasonable price.

    The W.L. Weller 12 Year is a bourbon that is going to offer you the best most when you are looking for a true deep bourbon taste. This is one of those bourbons that rivals its high priced competitors really well. It is a smooth bourbon that is very approachable, even for those who are not fans of bourbon. It also has a complexity that you are not likely to see elsewhere.

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