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Bourbon vs Whiskey - What Is The Difference Between Bourbon and Whiskey?And What About Jack

Updated on April 19, 2012

Bourbon vs Whiskey

Well besides the fact they taste quite different, a lot of people seem to be confused when it comes to whiskey and bourbon. I have heard whiskey called bourbon and more commonly of course I have heard Bourbon referred to as whiskey. Now both these statements Can be correct, while one of these statements is always correct. All Bourbon is classified as whiskey, but not all Whiskey is bourbon.

So.. Bourbon vs Whiskey? It's a personal choice, and personally I don't like whiskey. I almost exclusively drink Bourbon. I do however know people who wont touch Bourbon, but love Whiskey. Then of course are the people who love them both! So besides taste, lets explore just what is the difference between Bourbon and Whiskey?


Well first of all Whiskey can be made anywhere in the world, Scotland and Ireland being 2 of the most famous Whiskey producing nations on the planet. I'm sure most of us have heard Scotch Whiskey referred to as just "Scotch" at least once.
eg: Ron Burgundy in anchorman I love scotch. Scotchy, scotch, scotch. Here it goes
down, down into my belly

Whiskey(By US regulations).

Can be made with any combination of grains.

Whiskey must be produced at less than 190 proof (U.S)

Whiskey must be stored in Oak containers

Whiskey must be bottled at no less than 80 proof (U.S) (40% alcohol by volume).

Bourbon Whiskey

On the other hand Bourbon MUST be made in the USA, and if its not, it's not Bourbon. In fact Bourbon Whiskey was recognised by the United States Congress as a "distinctive product of the United States" on May 4 1964.

In order to carry the name Bourbon, a set of rigid requirements must be met, and these requirement are set out in The Federal Standards of Identity for Distilled Spirits (27 CFR 5) So if we break this down we come up with the key requirements for a Whiskey to be classified as a bourbon.

The grain mixture of which Bourbon is made must contain AT least 51% Corn.

Bourbon must be produced at no more than 160 proof (U.S) (80% alcohol by volume)

Bourbon must be stored at no more than 125 Proof (U.S) (62.5% alcohol by volume)

and it MUST be stored in NEW Charred Oak Containers.

Straight Bourbon Whiskey refers to Bourbon meeting these requirements which has been aged for longer than 2 years. Most, if not all bourbon available to purchase has been aged for 4 years or more and therefore is Straight Bourbon whiskey, however it is not required to be labeled Straight.

The Jack Daniels situation

Now I like many many people out there always thought that Jack Daniels was a bourbon, and I like all those other people out there was wrong.

Jack Daniels is not a Bourbon Whiskey. In fact Jack Daniels is almost in a class of it's own.

Tennessee Whiskey. It should come as no surprise that Tennessee Whiskey MUST be produced in the state of Tennessee, and is always filtered through Sugar Maple Charcoal. Tennessee Whiskey was officially recognised as its own form of Whiskey in 1941.

So you now know what the difference between Whiskey and Bourbon is, and furthermore you can correct your friends when they try to tell you that Jack Daniels is bourbon. Just don't drink so much of your preferred beverage that you can't share the information.

As always, drink responsibly and in moderation, and NEVER drink and drive.


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      dave 2 years ago

      Except for scotch its spelled whisky without the e. The irish spell it with the e as whiskey.

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      wakeupdrunk 4 years ago

      Whisky is Scotch, Welsh, Chinese, and Japanese.

      Whiskey is American, Irish.

      Try to dispute that with a whisk(e)y-filled bloke and u'll probably

      need surgery; even if the Chinese sometimes call theirs "whiskey".

      Imagine 9/11 2001 with charter flights of lawyers, instead.

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      David 4 years ago

      I seem to still be missing the difference. I believe JD meets all the requirements of Bourbon, plus is charcoal filtered to make it whiskey.

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      drew 4 years ago

      not only does bourbon have to be made in the USA, but traditionally, it also has to be made it Kentucky!

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      A R 5 years ago

      Quite interesting & useful