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.