True gourmets and sommeliers can easily distinguish whiskey and bourbon, even with their eyes closed. But for most consumers, the difference between whiskey and bourbon is not so noticeable. They most often choose popular brands, and as a rule, even Jim Beam is called whiskey. Although it is a bright representative of bourbon.
Of course, classical European whiskey and bourbon have a lot in common that is why fans of good alcoholic beverages often confuse them. But still, there are signs of difference, it is necessary to know them because each of the drinks has its own taste and traditions.
Whisky is a broader concept than bourbon and is produced using classical technology and recipes in Scotland, Ireland, Canada, and Japan. Bourbon is manufactured only in the USA by a traditional brand recipe. Scotch is a whiskey produced in Scotland.
At the time of its origin, bourbon was a drink for the lower strata of the population. As the raw material from which it was made was cheap. At first, it looked more like American moonshine. And only with the development and growth of this industry, bourbon became no less interesting drink than whiskey. The main raw material for whisky is barley, rye, and wheat, and corn for bourbon.
And according to the legal norms, whisky should contain only 10% of corn raw materials, and bourbon should contain at least 51%. We already know the two differences and can bet when someone says that all bourbon is whiskey.
Bourbon has a sweet intense flavor due to the raw materials from which it is produced. But the palette of flavors is very poor compared to whisky. In the process of tasting a product made in Europe or Japan, you can feel peat, citrus, chocolate, or cinnamon notes, which open in each bottle in a completely new way. Scotch has a tarter flavor. This is one of the main things that makes bourbon different from whiskey.
Bourbon is aged only in new oak barrels, which are preliminarily fired from the inside. And whisky is aged in old oak sherry, wine, Calvados, and bourbon casks (whisky aged in bourbon casks has a sweet vanilla flavor). The minimum age of an American drink is 2 years, Scotch whisky – 3 years, Irish whisky – 5 years on average, and Canadian drink – at least 6 years. Sherry barrels are used for maturing the scotch.
It is forbidden by law to add dyes or sugar coke to bourbon, which is added during the whisky production process to obtain a beautiful caramel shade. Bourbon acquires its color from the fired barrels in which it is aged.
Bourbon and whiskey difference is pronounced in the process of producing. Bourbon is very simplified when compared to classical whisky. For whisky, it is necessary to soak, germinate, dry, and then exfoliate the grain to release enzymes that naturally split the starch into sugars. And for an American drink, cereals must be crushed, poured with water, and boiled. Then the resulting wort should be sucked with barley or other malts, fermented with yeast from the previous yeast, and distilled at the end. In some distilleries, such as Jack Daniels, the drink is filtered through maple charcoal before aging. The scotch is prepared only based on barley.
Summing up all the above, we would like to advise that when you come to the store, pay attention to the label, or to the country of the manufacturer, and then the question: “Is it bourbon, or a whiskey or a scotch?” will fall off by itself.
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