Bourbon vs Scotch

Bourbon Vs Scotch Graphic If you’ve ever found yourself standing in the liquor aisle, pondering the nuanced world of brown spirits, you’ve likely come across the intriguing duo of Bourbon and Scotch. These two whiskies hail from different corners of the globe, each boasting a distinct personality and flavor profile.

Whether you’re a seasoned sipper or just starting your whiskey journey, join us as we dive into the key differences that set Bourbon and Scotch apart – from the grains that go into the mash to the barrels where they age, and of course, their distinct flavor profiles.

1.   Geographical Origin

  • Bourbon: Bourbon is a type of American whiskey that is primarily produced in the United States. Although Kentucky is the most famous for its Bourbon production, Bourbon can be made anywhere in the U.S.
  • Scotch: Scotch whisky (often simply called Scotch) is a whisky that is produced in Scotland.

2.   Types of Grains Used

  • Bourbon: By law, Bourbon must be made from a mash bill that consists of at least 51% corn. The other grains are typically barley, rye, and/or wheat.
  • Scotch: Scotch can be made from malted barley or a mixture of grains. Single malt Scotch is made exclusively from malted barley, while blended Scotch can include a mix of grains.

3.   Distilling Process

  • Bourbon: Bourbon is distilled to no more than 160 proof (80% alcohol by volume) and entered into the barrel for aging at no more than 125 proof.
  • Scotch: Scotch is typically distilled to a lower proof than Bourbon, around 140 proof (70% alcohol by volume) or lower. Additionally, Scotch often undergoes a second distillation in pot stills.

4.   Aging Requirements

  • Bourbon: Bourbon must be aged in new charred oak barrels. There is no minimum aging requirement to be called “straight Bourbon,” but to be labeled as “straight Bourbon whiskey,” it must be aged for at least four years.
  • Scotch: Scotch must be aged in oak barrels for a minimum of three years. The type of cask used in the aging process can influence the flavor of the Scotch.

5.   Flavor Profiles

  • Bourbon: Bourbon often has a sweeter, fuller-bodied flavor profile with notes of caramel, vanilla, and sometimes a hint of spice. The high corn content contributes to the sweetness.
  • Scotch: Scotch whisky flavors can vary widely depending on factors like the region of production, type of cask used, and the presence of peat. Common flavors include smokiness, malt, fruit, and sometimes a briny or peaty character.

6.   Peat Content

  • Bourbon: Generally, Bourbon does not have a peaty flavor. Peat is typically not used in the malting process for American whiskies.
  • Scotch: Some Scotch whiskies, especially those from Islay, may have a distinct peaty and smoky character. The use of peat in drying malted barley over an open flame is a traditional practice in some Scotch-producing regions.

As we wrap up, it’s clear to see that Bourbon and Scotch, though both delightful in their own right, offer distinctive experiences for our taste buds. Whether you lean towards the sweet embrace of Bourbon with its caramel and vanilla notes, or you savor the smoky allure of Scotch with its complex array of flavors, there’s a whiskey for every palate.

Scroll to Top