Bourbon vs. Scotch

21/11/2020
Updated: 24/12/2020
2 mins read
Bourbon vs. Scotch

Bourbon and scotch are two of the most popular types of whiskey in the world. Both are quite different. Although there are some similarities between the two, there are also lots of differences. 

In this article, we’ll compare these two giants of the whiskey world. 

Scotch is made in Scotland.

As the name suggests, scotch is always made in Scotland. Bourbon, on the other hand, can be made anywhere in the United States. It is most commonly made in Kentucky, where Bourbon county is, after which the spirit gets its name. 

Whiskey is spelled differently. 

Before we get onto the way that the two different types of whiskey are produced, we should first examine the way that “whiskey” is spelled. When it comes to scotch, there is no “e” in whisky. This is the same as in Canada and Japan. However, only Ireland and the US spell whiskey with an “e.”

Bourbon is made from 51% corn.

Bourbon is made using a mix of fermented grains. These are left to age in oak barrels. One of the most significant differences between bourbon and scotch is that bourbon contains at least 51% corn. 

Scotch, on the other hand, is made using malted barley. 

The corn used in bourbon is one of the things that bring about the distinctive sweet flavor. 

Scotch needs to be aged for three years.

To be considered scotch, the whisky must be allowed to age for at least three years inside an oak barrel. This is a legal obligation. 

In addition to this, every bottle of scotch needs to display how old the whisky is. When a blend of whisky is used, the youngest whisky is used as the age.

When it comes to aging bourbon, this takes at least two years. 

Bourbon is made in new charred oak barrels.

The type of barrels used in bourbon is different from that used in scotch production. The American Bourbon Association stipulates that only new charred oak barrels should be used for aging bourbon.  These barrels must never have been used to age any other spirits in the past. To be defined as a bourbon, the barrel must be new. 

Scotch Whisky, on the other hand, can be aged in a cask that has been used previously for aging other spirits. This will help to give the whisky a different taste. 

Both bourbon and scotch have an ABV of 40%

Typically, scotch whisky has an ABV (alcohol by volume) of 40%. It is a requirement that all bourbon be at least 40% ABV. If it does not meet this ABV, it cannot be considered to be bourbon.

By Ashleigh Cain

Ashleigh is a key part of the editorial team at Whiskey Rocks. You'll often find her either writing educational articles or reviewing the latest artisan whiskeys. Her favorite drink? Ashleigh loves smokey scotches like Laphroaig, but you'll also often find her with an old fashioned in hand.

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