What's The Difference Between Bourbon Whiskey And Scotch Whiskey?

Whiskey has long been the darling of the spirits world. Whiskey aficionados are voraciously researching everything there is to know about this barley-based, barrel-aged spirit. There are huge differences between the different types of whiskey around the world, but if you were to ask whiskey lovers to name a favorite, the vast majority would choose either bourbon or scotch.

People have different preferences for whiskey. Some people hate the peaty smell of Scotch, others hate the "full" sweetness of bourbon, some love the smell of burnt oak, and some people crave the taste of caramel.

Scotch and bourbon whiskey are produced across the ocean, and their flavors are very different. This difference is largely caused by the difference in raw materials-US law stipulates that the content of corn in the brewing raw materials of bourbon whiskey should not be lower than 51%. %, Scotch whiskey is different, it must use malt, water and yeast brewing. Sometimes, though, some Scotch whiskey ingredients also contain corn, at levels no less than bourbon, but that's a digression.

1. Bourbon Whiskey Brewing Process
It is a characteristic of bourbon whiskey to have a relatively "full" sweetness, which mainly comes from charred new oak barrels. After the corn in the stock is mashed, fermented, and distilled, the grain solids remain in the liquid, giving bourbon its natural grain sweetness.

For the distillation stage, both bourbon and Scotch whiskey are typically produced in a column still connected to a pot still. Technically, re-stills are similar to those used in early American moonshine, and only perform a simple re-distillation of whiskey.

The alcohol content of distilled bourbon whiskey is low, generally between 130-135proof (ie 65-67.5% abv). This method of distillation leaves many flavor components in the wine. After the alcohol level drops to 125 proof or lower (125 proof is the legal maximum alcohol for barrel-aged bourbon whiskey), the liquor is filled into large new American oak barrels that have been charred, and then heated in southern Kentucky and Tennessee. Aged in a humid climate, the result is a long-lasting, caramel and vanilla bourbon. Hot climates and lower barrel degrees help speed up whiskey aging, while colder climates and higher barrel degrees have the opposite effect.

2. Barley + Peat = Scotch Whiskey
Although Scotch whiskey is the ancestor of bourbon whiskey, and the brewing process of bourbon whiskey also left the mark of Scotch whiskey, there are still differences between the two, and the biggest difference is barley.

In single malt whiskey, barley is the only ingredient that can be used. Some Scotch whiskeys use barley that has been smoked with peat moss (such as Islay whiskey) and some that are not (such as Speyside whiskey). Also, during the brewing process, the barley is mashed and then separated from the sweet liquor before the yeast is added, which doesn't have the rich grain flavors that characterize bourbon.

Scotch whiskey is usually fermented at a lower temperature than many aromatic bourbons, resulting in what is known as a "brewer's beer." Next, the wine is placed in a pot still where it is distilled at least twice. The average alcohol content of the distilled liquor is about 70% abv, which is slightly higher than that of bourbon whiskey. Higher barrel alcohol (usually 63%-65% abv) makes the wine more delicate and dense after aging (of course, there are some exceptions).

3. Old barrels vs new barrels
Scotch whiskey casks are usually sourced from other distilleries or wineries, and these casks have previously held other spirits, such as bourbon or sherry. Even so, the inside of the cask often needs to be re-carbonated so that the wine is not as lacking in character as many assume.

Distilleries can use different types of barrels to blend many flavors together. The practice is uncommon in the region where bourbon is made, because by U.S. law bourbon must be aged in charred new oak barrels.

The above content is just a brief description of the difference between bourbon whiskey and Scotch whiskey, but we can see that the difference between the two is not only from the raw materials, but also from the production process. I hope this article has inspired you to delve deeper into your favorite whiskeys. Of course, there are different flavors to enjoy whether you prefer bourbon or scotch.
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