What is the difference between Whiskey and Bourbon?

What is the difference between Whiskey and Bourbon?


Both Whiskey and Bourbon are aged in a charred oak barrel, but there is one important difference between the two. Whiskey can be aged in a used barrel, whereas Bourbon by law must be aged in a new barrel. According to the TTB (Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau), Bourbon Whisky must be produced in the USA not exceeding 160 proof from a fermented mash of not less then 51% corn and stored in a charred new barrel.  

Whiskey on the other hand is more lenient. Whiskey, without the word "bourbon", may be aged in a used barrel. Often when our bourbon is done aging, we will then recycle that barrel and use it to age our whiskey. After we have aged our whiskey in the used bourbon barrels, we will then sell the barrels to breweries.  The beer will pull the whiskey out of the wood and add a whiskey note to the beer.    

New barrels make it easier to create a consistent flavor profiling because when aging in a used barrel, the whiskey can easily pick up hints from the previous spirit aged in that barrel.

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When making Whiskey, unlike Bourbon, it doesn’t HAVE to contain corn. Whiskey can be made using many different grains. Bad Dog Distillery for example has a Wheat Whiskey, a Rye Whiskey, and a Malt Whiskey.

Want to taste the difference yourself? We offer tastings at our on site tasting room at Bad Dog Distillery in Arlington, WA.

Keeping It Local

We take pride in staying local to Washington State when choosing our grains. Without good quality grain, we wouldn’t have our good quality spirits.

Not only do we purchase locally, but we give our spent grain to local farmers as a high protein feed for their livestock. Starting and ending with local supports the farms’ business and the land.  It is a win-win!  The more they thrive and till the soil, the more the soil thrives and keeps the land healthy.

We use many different grains when producing our spirits which includes corn, wheat, rye, and malt.

Spent Grain used by local farmers as feed for livestock.

Spent Grain used by local farmers as feed for livestock.

Eleven of our thirteen spirits contain corn, so it’s important to always have a large supply at hand. One of our first spirits available in our tasting room was our “Grandpa’s Likker”, an unaged corn whiskey. The Mash bill for this whiskey is 83% corn and 17% barely malt.  This is the base to all our flavored whiskeys, which includes Moonshine Apple Pie, Hot Shot Cinnamon Whiskey, and Grandpa’s Likkerish. It is also the base to our Bourbons and Corn Whiskeys. We get our corn from Quincy, WA.

The only two spirits that do not contain corn is our 100% Wheat Whiskey and our Wheat Vodka. We get our Wheat from LaConner, WA.

We get the Rye for our Grandpa’s Rye Whiskey from LaConner or Granite Falls. This whiskey is running about 70% rye and 30% corn. The corn balances the sharpness of the rye with a slight touch of sweetness.

With each different grain and variation of malt, we are able to create unique individual products. It’s just one of the fascinating things about the distilling industry. There are almost unlimited ways to keep our spirits unique to us. We are always growing, learning, and expanding our knowledge when it comes to not only the differences between grains, but in all other aspects of this industry as well.

The 200th Barrel!

The 200th Barrel!

This month we filled our 200th barrel. I would say, "What an accomplishment!". When people ask how our business is going, I tell them we are taking baby steps but they are always going forward. This is the true for our barrels.

First Bourbon Barrel and 200th Bourbon Barrel

First Bourbon Barrel and 200th Bourbon Barrel

In May 2015 we purchased our first barrels. They were 8 gallon used bourbon barrels from Woodinville Whiskey. What an exciting day! Within a couple months we purchased more from them, which was quite comical. This time they realized they were selling to another distillery. The gal was concerned that we were their competition. I gave a good laugh and told her we were way too small to be competing with them. Thinking back, that was only 4 years ago and Woodinville Whiskey had 8 gallon barrels. Their fast growth is impressive.

Our next milestone barrel was from 2 Bar Spirits that was purchased in September 2015. We bought their used 15-gallon bourbon barrels. We learned these barrels were originally purchased from The Barrel Mill in Minnesota. In March 2016, we purchase our first 15-gallon new barrels from The Barrel Mill. This was the start of our Bourbon line.

In 2019 we hit another barrel milestone by ordering only new 30-gallon barrels. This year we were able introduce and now offer our Single Barrel straight bourbon. This is bourbon has been aged for 2 years, which was in the first barrels we purchased from The Barrel Mill.

Arlington, WA. The town we call home.

From gorgeous mountain views, to flowing rivers and farmland, Arlington has always been and will always be the place to call home.
Recently Arlington made it into the top 10 towns for the show “Small Business Revolution”. Whether we make it to number 1 or not, we think it is so great that our town was recognized. Small Business Revolution’s purpose is to help revitalized small towns throughout America. The team behind the show came into the distillery and we feel so blessed to have been able to speak with them and share our story behind Bad Dog Distillery. Hank and Brew were happy to meet them too!  

Arlington is full of small businesses that support one another. One of the great parts of living here is how our community is supportive and always comes together when in times of need.

We love getting customers from other places. We welcome you all to come enjoy our hometown and see the beauty of it yourself.

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Follow Small Business Revolution on Facebook or Instagram to get updates on who will make it into the top 5. When the time for voting comes, we would appreciate it so much if you could vote for Arlington, WA.

“One of the pleasant things about small town life is that everyone, whether rich or poor, liked or disliked, has some kind of a role and place in the community.”
— Edward Abbey

Pumpkin Everything?!

With Fall coming up very soon, we thought some “Pumpkin Spice” drinks were in order! These are great for a cozy fall evening! Sure, not everyone likes pumpkin everything, but for those who wake up and “Pumpkin Spice” from morning to night, these are for you!

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Whiskey Pumpkin Pie Cocktail

  • 1/2 cup apple cider

  • 1 tbsp pumpkin puree

  • 1 tsp sugar

  • 1/4 tsp pumpkin spice (yum!)

  • 1 oz Bad Dog Whiskey or Bourbon

  • ice

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Combine ingredients in cocktail shaker. Shake, shake shake! Pour into glass over ice.

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Pumpkin Spice Whiskey Cocktail

  • 2 oz Bad Dog Whiskey or Bourbon

  • 2 oz heavy whipping cream

  • 1 z simple syrup

  • 1/2 tsp pumpkin spice

  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Combine ingredients in cocktail shaker and shake away! Pour into glass over ice. You may add whipped cream too!

Whiskey Bourbon vs. Straight Bourbon

The time has almost come for us to pop open our first barrel of Bad Dog Straight Bourbon. We already have our Whiskey Bourbon, but there is definitely some differences between the two!

Now some people wonder what makes bourbon a bourbon. Well, let me tell you! For bourbon to be considered bourbon it has to be produced in the US. It can not exceed 160 proof from fermented mash, it has to be at least 51% corn, and must be aged in new charred barrels.

Both our Bourbons are made from the same corn mash, aged in the same new white American oak barrels from the Barrel Mill, and stored right up on the same shelf! BUT, our Straight Bourbon is aged for at least 2 years to be called straight bourbon, where as our Whiskey Bourbon can be aged for as short as 1 year.

While both of these Bourbons have some great flavor, we can definitely say the longer aging process has pulled some sweeter, more pronounced oak notes. The Straight Bourbon has a heavier amber color as well.

We love both of these bourbons and we can't wait for you all to take a taste as well!

Straight Bourbon will be coming soon, hopefully early Fall! Our label just got approved, so exciting stuff is happening!


Be My Valentine Martini Recipe

Treat your special someone to a night of delicious drinks and sweet treats!

Raspberry Martini

  • 10 raspberries
  • 1/4 cup mint-infused simple syrup
  • 1 oz cranberry juice
  • 2 oz Bad Dog Vodka
  • chocolate syrup for rim
  • shredded dark chocolate for rim (you can use milk chocolate as well) 

Squeeze chocolate syrup onto dish big enough to dip rim in. Pour shredded chocolate onto another dish. Dip rim of martini glass into the chocolate syrup and then into the shredded chocolate. Set aside.

Put raspberries into a cocktail shaker and crush with muddler. Add simple syrup and continue muddling. Add your Bad Dog Vodka and cranberry juice. Fill shaker with ice and shake well. Strain into martini glass.

Enjoy with some chocolate drizzled strawberries!



Find more drink recipes here.


A Peak Inside Our Distilling Process


From grinding the grain, to distilling our liquor, everything we do here is made through passion and care.

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Making Whiskey involves many steps and here at Bad Dog Distillery we pride ourselves on being a grain to glass distillery. Being grain to glass means we do everything on site from grinding our grain to bottling our spirits, hence “grain to glass”. We feel that being in control of every step is important so everyone knows exactly what is going into our alcohol.

Our first process will always begin with getting our grain of course. Staying local is very important to us so everything we use is from Washington State. Once we pick up the grain, or have it delivered, we will then store it and grind the amount needed for our next batch.

Mashing will be the next step taken, which is the process of converting the starches from grain into sugar. During this time we are very careful to keep our mash ton at specific temperature to be sure that everything comes out exactly how we want it. Once our mash is to the right consistency, we will then transfer it into what is basically a giant strainer. This process can sometimes get messy, but boy is it worth it in the end! The reason we strain the mash is to separate the wash from the solids. The solids are the leftover grain that we will send to farmers to use as feed. The wash is what will then go into our copper pot still and soon become alcohol. But first we will transfer the wash into a tote and pitch the yeast. The tote will then sit for a few days before transferring into the still.

The distilling process itself can take many hours. We watch the temperature closely for that as well. Most of what comes out of our still will go into a barrel to become either Whiskey or Bourbon. Some of it we will keep unaged and some we will use to create a flavored whiskey out of.

And our final step is to bottle! We do all our bottling here at the distillery. By hand, we will bottle, cap, seal, label, and box!

This process consists of a lot of hard work and passion.  We are very dedicated to create the highest quality product as possible for our customers to enjoy.

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Bourbon cocktails that will bring you some holiday cheer!

The weather is getting chilly and the days are getting shorter. Moods are getting gleamy, and sometimes a little holiday pick me up is needed! And, of course, our Moonshine Apple Pie and Hot Shot Cinnamon Whiskey make for some mighty fine holiday drinks!  But, our Bourbon Whiskey does too! Next time you’re needing a quick warm up or trying to find a good drink for a party you’re hosting, definitely try these two Bourbon holiday drinks.

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Hot Buttered Bourbon


  • ½ stick butter
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • ½ tsp ground cloves

Mix together with fork or spoon until well combined. Use immediately or store in fridge until ready to serve.

-Preparing drink

  • 2 tbsp batter
  • 2 oz Bad Dog Bourbon Whiskey
  • Top with boiling water

Garnish with whipped cream, dust with cinnamon and pair with Bad Dog Bourbon infused Chocolate Truffles. Find recipe here.


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Maple Bourbon Hot Chocolate

  • 1 ½ cups milk
  • 3 oz hot chocolate of your choice
  • 1 oz maple syrup
  • 3 oz Bad Dog Bourbon
  • bacon of your choice   

Combine milk and hot chocolate mix into sauce pan and stir until well blended. Add maple syrup and Bourbon. Let simmer (not boil) and begin cooking the bacon. Pour into mug and garnish with whipped cream, chocolate shavings, and bacon.



Find more drink recipes here.

Bad Dog Bourbon Infused Chocolate Truffles

Alcohol deserves to be in more than just beverages! These Bourbon infused truffles are the perfect dessert to any gathering!

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  • 14 oz semisweet chocolate chips
  • ½  cup heavy whipping cream
  • ½  tsp vanilla extract
  • ½  tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 oz Bad Dog Bourbon


Pour 7 oz chocolate chips into bowl. Heat heavy whipping cream in sauce pan over Med heat until it reaches a boil. Instantly pour cream into bowl over chocolate chips and whisk until smooth. Stir in vanilla, cinnamon, and bourbon. Place in fridge for 2-3 hours.

Melt the remaining chocolate chips in microwave safe bowl for 30 second intervals, stirring until completely melted.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and scoop mixture with tbsp and form into balls using your hands. (tip, run hands under cold water and then dry before handling mix. It will help keep from melting. If mix starts to melt, throw it in the freezer for 10 min). Dip each ball into melted chocolate and place on cookie sheet. Sprinkle with cocoa powder for garnish.

Instantly put in fridge to cool until ready to serve.