Currently, America imports more types of whiskeys than any other country with France coming in second. Exports to the US even grew by 8% during the first quarter of 2022.
It’s a sophisticated drink that leaves many novices scratching their heads when it comes to things like the difference between scotch and bourbon. If you struggle to buy or order whiskey with confidence, the following guide can help.
Read on to learn more about scotch vs bourbon and how they’re each unique and distinctive.
What Is Whiskey?
Before we get to the bourbon vs scotch debate, you’ll need a refresher on the basics of whiskey. All types of whiskies are made from fermented grain and get distilled and aged in barrels.
Examples of common grains include corn, rye, barley, and wheat. Every type of grain used to make whiskey creates a special flavor profile different than others.
Bourbon and Scotch are both whiskies but use exact requirements when it comes to the grains they use. Scotch gets made from only one type of grain and it’s typically barley. Bourbon at least 51% corn combined with other grains to add sweet and spicy notes.
What Is Scotch?
If you want to start collecting Scotch Whisky, you must first understand its connection to Scotland. For a whiskey to be scotch, it can only come from Scotland. The popular drink dates back to the country since the 15th century.
As mentioned before, scotch rarely uses any grain other than barley. For a single malt scotch, barley goes through a malting process, a fermentation process, and a distillation process. Then, it matures in a cask at the distillery for the final step.
What Is Bourbon
In the same way that scotch must come from Scotland, bourbon must come from America. It’s illegal for any whiskey made outside of the US to use the term “bourbon” on their labels.
Most bourbon that you find in stores comes from the state of Kentucky. More than half of the grains used must be corn. It’s then aged in brand-new American white oak barrels that get charred.
There isn’t a set amount of time for aging and different bourbons sit in their barrels longer than others. Because it uses so much corn, it tends to have a much sweeter flavor than scotch.
You might notice that one bottle says “whisky” while another says “whiskey”. It doesn’t change anything about how it’s made and has everything to do with the region.
Irish and American brands usually spell it “whiskey” while Canadian and Scottish brands go with the “whisky” spelling. While it doesn’t change the basics, different spelling might help you identify your favorite brands better.
Understanding Scotch vs Bourbon
When it comes to scotch vs bourbon, the main difference is that bourbon has a sweeter taste, comes from the USA, and uses a corn base. Scotch sticks to barley and must come from Scotland.
Now that you know the basics, you can try different types and brands to find your preferred whiskey drink! Take a look at our blog’s Lifestyle category under the More tab for other helpful tips and information.