What Makes Bourbon Unique and What are the Different Types of Bourbon?

Written by Peoples Bourbon Review Staff |

Generally speaking, bourbon is a type of whiskey that can only be made in America, its territories, and the District of Columbia. It dates back to 1700 and 1800 when Irish, European, and some Scottish settlers in southern America brought with them the distilling technique.

Bourbon is a French name that many associate with the French royals that existed from around the 13th century. However, the drink is believed to be named after the Bourbon County in Kentucky, where distillation started around the 19th century.

For a drink to qualify as bourbon, it has to be made at a proof of not more than 160, whereas the mash that it's being fermented should be at least 51 percent corn. Additionally, the spirit housed in the charred new oak containers used for storage should not exceed 125 proof. There must be no flavoring, coloring, or addition of blending materials when producing bourbon.

Bourbon must be aged in new, charred oak containers.

During distillation, bourbon has to be kept under a lower distillation proof. This is to make sure that the corn characteristics mingle with the resulting spirit on its way to creating the distillate. The distilled contents become purer with less flavor and minimal odor as the proof increases.

The grain spirit is placed in an oak container to mature only after the barrel has to be charred. Unlike other kinds of whiskey, bourbons must use a brand new barrel.

Charing is basically burning the inner part of the barrel to form an oak char. This process allows some wood molecules to be absorbed by the liquid giving bourbon its unique color as well as the distinctive flavor. 60 to 80 percent of the taste is a result of the process that goes on in the barrel.

When it comes to bottling, the contents need to be at least 40 percent alcohol which is proof of 80.

What Makes Bourbon Unique?

It's the only type of whiskey around the globe with no additives, flavorings, colorings, and other blending materials.

Second, bourbon is only made in the United States as the international trade agreements protect this endeavor.

About 95 percent of bourbon is made in Kentucky, in the US, but other parts of the country produce it as well.

Different Types of Bourbon

As earlier mentioned, bourbon requires at least 51 percent of corn to produce. Barley is also usually used to add flavor. The difference in nature may arise from the amount of corn used or the other additional grains.

High Rye

This bourbon has lots of rye content in it hence the "spicy high rye recipe." They include the:

  • Buffalo Trace
  • Four Roses
  • Basil Hayden's
  • Eagle Rare
  • Old Forester


The traditional bourbon has lots of corn in it, up to 70 percent. They include:

  • Even Williams
  • Baker's
  • Elijah Craig
  • Old Crow
  • Jim Beam

High Wheat

This category has a combination of the three grains, which are wheat, barley, and corn. This gives it a softer and sweeter taste. They include:

  • Old Rip Van Winkle
  • Maker's Mark
  • Rebel Yell
  • W. L. Weller
  • Old Fitzgerald

There are many brands in the market, but we just listed some of the most popular. These categories provide variation of taste, so just find the taste profile you like and go for it.

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


Please Login to Comment
No comments have been posted. Be the first.

Card image cap
Provide Feedback

Would you mind giving us feedback? What do you like or dislike about the website? How can we make it better? What features would you like to see added?

Does Bourbon Have to be Made in Kentucky to be Called Bourbon?

Some may claim that "Kentucky Bourbon is the one and only Bourbon" and that one cannot truly create Bourbon outside of Kentucky because of Kentucky's unique mixture of barrels and t...Read More

You Will Not Find a Better Sweet Bourbon than OF1910

Old Forester 1910 is oaky, sweet, caramel goodness that should be at the top of your list if you like bourbons on the sweeter end of the spectrum. Everything about this whiskey is thick and rich. You ...Read More

Rye Whiskey and Rye Bourbon: Is there a Difference?

“Rye whiskey” and “rye bourbon” are terms that often confuse people who are new to the whiskey world. A common misperception is that the two terms are synonymous. While both ry...Read More