What Is the Difference Between Bourbon, Scotch, and Whiskey?

Written by Peoples Bourbon Review Staff |
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Often individuals are perplexed by the distinctions between Bourbon, Scotch, and whiskey when it comes to spirits. Although there are some similarities between Scotch, Bourbon, and whiskey, each has distinct features and manufacturing techniques.

What Exactly Is Whiskey?

Whiskey is the primary category into which Scotch and Bourbon are classified. Scotches and Bourbons are both whiskeys; however, not all whiskey is Scotch or Bourbon.

Whiskey is a grain-derived distilled alcohol. Any other distilled alcoholic beverages are derived from different sources. For instance, brandy, including Cognac or Armagnac, is made from grapes.

Whiskey is created by distilling malted barley or other grains. After soaking the grains in boiling water to extract the sugars, yeast is added to brew the sugars into ethanol. Eventually, the beverage is distilled and aged in barrels.

So, What Are the Main Differences Between Bourbon and Scotch?

Ingredients Involved in the Fermentation Process

The manufacture of Scotch and Bourbon in the U.S is strictly regulated, ensuring that you only get the best quality liquor whenever you buy a Scotch or Bourbon.

An alcoholic drink must be brewed with a grain blend that contains at least 51 percent corn to be authorized as a Bourbon. Many companies make Bourbon alcoholic drinks by blending wheat, barley, and rye in a single pot to produce the perfect brew for their Scotch or Bourbon type.

To be termed a Scotch, an alcoholic beverage must be manufactured from malted barley, which is generally the principal ingredient utilized in the fermentation and manufacture of Scotch liquor types.

Scotch alcoholic drinks frequently use water and yeast to capture the entire flavors of the grain employed. Scotch alcohol makers may also incorporate entire cereal grains into their Scotch liquor variants to add character and color to the booze.

Flavor Variations: Bourbon vs. Scotch

The flavor will be the most noticeable distinction between any Scotch or Bourbon type. It differs greatly depending on the substances employed during the cultivation and fermentation process, including grains and other items.

Both Bourbon and Scotch are renowned for having smokey and charred characteristics, although how these characteristics are achieved varies greatly.

Bourbon and Scotch are renowned for having smokey and charred characteristics.

Bourbon often has an oaky vanilla flavor obtained mostly from the casks in which the liquor is fermented, stored, aged, and manufactured. On the other hand, Scotch alcohol derives much of its taste from the peat ignited in the barley malting process.

Flavors in Scotch whisky can differ since not all localities use pear throughout the barley malting operation. So, bear in mind that if you plan on drinking Scotch whisky soon.

Localities: Bourbon vs. Scotch

Both Scotch and Bourbon whisky are popular in many countries and places around the globe.

Although there are certain tight restrictions governing alcohol categorization, you can very much get Scotch and Bourbon whisky types all over the world. Nonetheless, when it comes to history, it is preferable to adhere to the region of origin if you are worried about the booze being the ‘real deal.’

Technically, a whiskey variation should be fermented and brewed in Scotland to be classified a ‘Scotch.’ On the other hand, many people have associated Bourbon with Kentucky. However, several Bourbon selections are manufactured even outside Kentucky.

For an alcoholic beverage to be classified as Bourbon, it should be fermented and manufactured in the U.S.

Alcohol By Volume (ABV): Bourbon vs. Scotch

One of the essential considerations when choosing a Scotch or Bourbon whiskey is its alcoholic level by volume. The alcoholic percentage by volume indicator on the Scotch or Bourbon bottle you select will assist you in determining how strong any particular whisky variation is.

Before coming on the market, the whiskey must meet precise alcohol by volume content standards to be qualified as Scotch or Bourbon. Ensure you select the Bourbon or Scotch whiskey type that suits your palate.

Bourbon is normally distilled to not more than 80 percent ABV or 160 proof, and it cannot exceed 62.5 percent ABV throughout the maturing phase. Scotch whisky, however, must have an ABV of less than 94.8 percent. It is often matured in old oak barrels that have retained many unique flavors throughout the years after fermenting various other alcohol variations.

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The Aging Process: Bourbon vs. Scotch

The maturing process is most likely an essential component in determining the general flavor of your chosen Scotch or Bourbon whisky. Both Scotch and Bourbon undergo quite diverse aging processes, which contribute to their distinct undertones and tastes.

Many typical Bourbon producers have no needed age limit to create Bourbon. Nevertheless, if a firm wants their Bourbon to be labeled as ‘classic Bourbon,’ it must be aged for at least two years and should not contain any additional flavors, colors, or spirits.

On the other hand, Scotch must be matured for not less than three years. Nonetheless, there are still many Scotch classes available in the Bourbon categories.

Final Thoughts

All of these variations contribute to differences in sweetness, smoothness, and flavors of the spirit. Experimenting with several brands and types of whiskey will help you choose which one perfectly matches your tastebuds. So, the next time you are out on the town, taste both Bourbon or Scotch to see what you prefer.

Author: Peoples Bourbon Review Staff
The People's Bourbon Review - The ultimate Bourbon reviews and tasting notes by enthusiasts and the people.


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