Difference between Bourbon and Scotch

Whiskey is a distilled spirit made from malt or grains like barley, corn, wheat, and rye aged in wooden casks for years. While several types of whiskey are available, Scotch and bourbon remain the most popular choices among the masses.

However, most people get confused when it comes to differentiating between bourbon and Scotch. This article has covered the basic and essential differences between these two whiskeys.

What is Scotch?

Scotch is a whiskey manufactured in Scotland from either malt or grain. The spirit is aged in oak barrels for a minimum of three years to call it scotch. Each bottle of Scotch comes with an age statement where the oldest the whiskey, the pricier it gets.

Like champagne, where the sparkling wine must be prepared in the champagne region of France, the distillers of Scotch must prepare the whiskey in Scotland. Scotch is the finest drink you will get in the United Kingdom, where people consume it not merely for intoxication but for establishing a style statement. It is celebrated for its unique taste, rich history, and tradition.

What is Bourbon?

Bourbon is a type of whiskey that contains at least 51 percent of corn in its mash. It is aged only in charred oak barrels instead of Scotch, where distillers have more freedom in choosing the casks for the aroma profile. While many whiskeys come with additional flavorings and caramel colorings, bourbon, on the other hand, cannot contain any caramel coloring. 

While it’s a sin to take Scotch anything other than neat, bourbon is more adventurous in that department. You can use bourbon in several whisky-based cocktails, such as classic old-fashioned, mint julep, or whiskey sour.

Difference between Bourbon and scotch 

FactorsBourbonScotch
Flavors ProfileBourbon has a sweeter, oaky and vanilla-based flavors developed from the charred surface of the barrels.Scotch has a dominant intense smoky flavors coming from the burning peat from the barley malting process. Only 2 out of 4 scotch distillers have the signature peaty flavor.
IngredientsShould be made strictly from a grain mixture of atleast 51 percent corn and the rest is a mixture of barley, rye and wheat.It is made from malted barley as the primary ingredients along with water and yeast. Some distillers may use whole cereal grains for coloring purposes.
Region of ProductionIt should be legally qualified as bourbon if only made inside the United states.It should only be made in Scotland.
ABV RequirementsIt should be distilled with at least 80 percent alcohol (160 proof). Distillers must ensure the spirit contains at least 62.5 percent alcohol while going inside the casks.Scotch must have an ABV less than 94.8 percent.
Barrel RequirementIt should be stored in new charred oak barrels, giving it its distinguishable flavor.It is aged in used oak barrels previously used for storing sherry, beer and bourbon. Flavor is impacted on the distillation process. Single malt scotches are made with malted barley at a single distillery while blended scotches includes a wide profile of single malts and whiskies.
Aging PeriodThere is no specific aging requirement, but to call the product Bourbon, the wine should be aged no less than two years with no added spirits, coloring or flavor.Scotch must be aged for at least three years. It is aged longer than bourbon with popular whiskeys hitting the shelves after 12-25 years inside barrels.

Both Bourbon and Scotch comes with their own distinct flavor and identities, which makes them unique and world’s leading whiskeys. One may like scotch over bourbon or vice versa because of their taste palate and personal preferences.

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