5 Things That Make Scotch and Bourbon Different


Whiskey connoisseurs, I expect you all to know the difference between your scotch and your bourbon. But for those who’ve just entered the world of whiskey drinking, you should know that the Scots and the Americans are extremely proud of their alcohol, and are always trying to stake their claim in the whiskey universe. Here are 5 differences between Scotch and Bourbon apart from the fact that one is brewed in Scotland and the other in the US:

The grain: Whiskey is made from a mixture of fermented grain, but to qualify as scotch, the whiskey needs to be made by no grain other than malted barley. Bourbon, on the other hand, is different. It is brewed using a grain mash that needs to contain at least 51% corn. So technical, I tell you!


Casks for aging: This one plays a role in the peculiar yet distinct flavours of both scotch and bourbon. Scotch is aged for not less than 3 years in casks made of oak. On the flipside, there is a very subtle detail difference as bourbon is matured for a minimum of 2 years in oak casks that are charred, lending it the smokier taste.


Alcohol content: Another slight difference, but a difference nonetheless. Scotch whiskey usually has an ABV between 60-75% after distillation, while the alcohol content in bourbon is allowed to go right up to 80% post distillation, by US law. Clearly, the Americans like it a wee bit stronger.


Additives: The Scots feel that it is perfectly okay to add external ingredients to influence the colour of their whiskey (largely caramel influenced), while the Americans on the other hand, don’t believe in additives for colouring their Kentucky brewed homegrown poison (largely dark brown, amber coloured). Because then, it does not qualify as ‘straight’ bourbon.


Flavour: It’s difficult to generalize how scotch tastes because different scotches from different parts of Scotland have their own peculiar flavours. But if a generic view had to be given about the flavour of scotch in relation to bourbon, the former carries a more floral, salty and sometimes spicy taste, while the latter mostly always lies on the sweeter side because it is brewed with corn, which naturally tends to be sweet.