How Is Bourbon Whiskey Different from Other Spirits?

February 28, 2024

Bourbon just has a different vibe to other spirits. For whiskey enthusiasts and bourbon beginners, discerning the fine details of this timeless American spirit is essential to truly appreciating its nuances. The good thing is that you have us on your side so you'll get lots of valuable information today.

The name itself conjures images of the Deep South in the States, with vast whiskey barrels ageing in charred oak rickhouses. The allure of bourbon lies not only in its taste but also in the storied tradition that accompanies its production. We love to purchase bourbon whiskey in Australia just as much and you might find yourself scrolling through online stores often.

1. Distillation Process

The process used to distil bourbon is one of its defining features. While many other spirit categories follow a general distillation method, bourbon has stringent guidelines. Bourbon, the alchemist's elixir, must be distilled down to a humble 160 proof (80% ABV) and matured in barrels at a modest 125 proof (62.5% ABV) or less. This meticulous process guarantees that the spirit retains the essence of its mash bill, the magical blend of grains that conjures bourbon's unrivalled flavour profile.

2. Ingredients

The combination of ingredients isn't random either. By law, bourbon must be made with at least 51% corn, with the remainder typically consisting of rye, barley, or wheat. This differs from the predominantly malty or grainy mash used in other whiskeys, such as Scotch and Irish, which are typically malt- or grain-dominant, respectively. Bourbon has a high corn content and it's the resulting sweet flavour that has people coming back time after time - we don't blame you.

3. Ageing Requirements

Bourbon, the distinguished rebel of whiskeys, refuses to settle for anything less than new charred oak barrels for ageing. While others may indulge in a variety of barrels, bourbon embraces the charring process that caramelises the wood's natural sugars, infusing depth and colour into its spirit. Aged for a minimum of two years, but always striving for complexity, bourbon flaunts its rich amber glow and oaky essence, leaving us all in awe. Cheers to the rebellious charm of bourbon.

4. Flavour Profile

When it comes to taste, bourbon is widely appreciated for its complex characteristics. Depending on the mash bill and ageing conditions, bourbon can feature notes of caramel, vanilla, toffee, and charred oak, alongside a warm, smooth finish. This is contrasted with other spirits, such as Canadian whisky, which tend to be lighter and smoother with an equal proportion of grains and often a smaller percentage of malt or rye. The sweet and robust nature of bourbon caters to a wide range of palates and mingles effortlessly in cocktails, like the classic Old Fashioned or the contemporary Bourbon Smash.


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