Difference Between Bourbon and Whiskey

For the uninitiated, the difference between Bourbon and Whiskey might not be much, but for a seasoned Whiskey drinker, they couldn’t be more different.

Of course, preferences are subjective and taking sides in the Bourbon Vs Whiskey debate is an entirely different conversation but there are no excuses for not knowing your Whiskey and where it comes from.

While some distinctions between the two are minor, and some could also be chalked out as similarities, Bourbon and Whiskey are legally classified as two separate entities altogether. So although, Bourbon is technically a Whiskey, not every Whiskey is a Bourbon.

Let us understand what sets Bourbon Whiskey and Whiskey apart from each other.

Places of Origin

Bourbon Whiskey is the legal definition of Whiskey developed in the United States of America, whereas Whiskey is the legal definition and spelling used by the Irish.

Other countries such as Scotland, Japan, Canada and India spell it as Whisky but they cannot refer their product as Bourbon either.


Legal requirements for a Bourbon Whiskey dictate the use of a Corn mash that is no less than 51% to obtain it.

Whisky or Whiskey can be developed from any number of grains, in any ratio, and in a malted or unmalted state. Irish Whiskey


Owing to the heavier use of Corn in the mash that is used to create Bourbon Whiskey, the final product is slightly sweeter as compared to the traditional Irish Whiskey or Scotch Whisky.

This lends more perspective to the prevailing Bourbon Vs Whiskey debate as many drinkers prefer tasting notes that do not lean towards the sweeter side.

Aging Period

The difference between Bourbon and Whiskey is further solidified when talking about aging and maturation of the distilled spirit.

Bourbon Whiskey faces no necessary specification for aging their product and sometimes, Bourbon matured for mere months is also sold on the market. Straight Bourbon is a term only spirits that have been aged for more than 2 years can use, whereas Bourbon aged for less than 4 years has to carry an age statement.

Whiskey on the other hand, Irish Whiskey or Scotch Whisky, needs to complete a necessary maturation duration of over 3 years. Even a day more than 3 years is fine, and the spirit can then be bottled.

Alcohol Strength

A category wherein the Bourbon Vs Whiskey is rendered moot since both Bourbon and Whiskey, Irish or otherwise, are legally required to be bottled at the same strength.

The bottling strength limit for both Bourbon and Whiskey remains 40% Alcohol by Volume, or 80 US Proof as referred to in America.

Although cask strength Bourbons and Whiskeys that register a significantly higher bottled alcohol strength do exist, the standard legal requirements dictate the same alcohol strength for both Bourbon and Whiskey.

These are the factors that answer the oft misunderstood question, ‘what is the difference between Bourbon and Whiskey?’.


Strathisla – The Home of the Chivas Regal

Said to be the oldest operating distillery in the Highlands, the Strathilsa Distillery was founded in 1786 by George Taylor and Alexander Milne under the name Milltown distillery and is the home of Scotch Whisky. The name was first changed to Strathisla in 1870, then to Milton in 1890 and finally to Strathisla Distillery again in 1951. In 1965, the number of stills at Strathisla was doubled from two to four. These new stills were steam heated from the beginning, but the two old stills weren't until 1992. The spirit isn't filled into casks at the Strathisla distillery directly. Instead, it is first transported to the nearby Glen Keith distillery via pipes to be casked there. Most of the casks are stored elsewhere, but a handful of them are transported back to the Strathisla distillery to mature on site. For this purpose, the distillery still includes two warehouses; one traditional 'dunnage' warehouse and a modern 'racked' variety. The rest of the casks are stored in one of the three bonded warehouses of Chivas Brothers and one of them is located in Keith.Often described as the most picturesque distillery in Scotland, Strathisla proves that beauty really isn't skin deep. Beneath the iconic twin pagodas, the copper stills have a distinctive shape that determines the unique character of every drop of Strathisla Scotch whisky – its signature richness that is fruity and full-bodied.The distillery itself was completed in 1786 (under the name of Milton or Milltown), making it one of the oldest distilleries from the 18th century which still in exists. This beautifully aged distillery has witnessed its fair share of history when Strathisla was blazed in flames in 1876. An explosion in the malt mill during 1879 also was a huge blow to the establishment.The Strathisla Distillery was quickly rebuilt, and this time with its own bottling plant. In 1880, William Longmore retired and his son-in-law John Geddes-Brown took control of the distillery. This resulted in the formation of William Longmore & Co. Ten years later in 1890, the name of the distillery was changed to Milton (referring to the nearby Milton Castle).Strathisla Distillery embraces the Scottish culture in all its produces and makes one feel closer to the true spirit of their rich and smooth Scotch whisky blends.

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