Many people are confused by the differences between Scotch and Bourbon.

For sure you have heard the statement, “All Bourbons are Whiskey, but not all Whiskey are Bourbon.” If you’re a full-blooded Whiskey drinker, you’d relate.

Scotch is whisky, while Bourbon is whiskey. This spelling difference is due to the translation of words from Irish Gaelic forms. However, you can now use it to identify whether a whisk(ey)y was made in Scotland. Scotch whisky comes from Scotland, and Bourbon whiskey comes from America. This guide will explain the differences between Bourbon and Scotch whisky.

What is Whiskey?

Whiskey, also known as whisky, is a distilled alcoholic beverage made from fermented grain mashes. It’s usually made of wheat, corn, and barley. The Irish and Americans use whiskey, while the Japanese, Scottish, and Australians use whisky. Regardless of the term, this spirit is aged in wood barrels or wooden casks with charred oak surfaces.

Bourbon vs. Scotch: The Ultimate Difference

According to an article from, Scotch and Bourbon are both very popular and have intense flavors. However, that is not the point of their similarities. The grains used to make them have different tastes.

These are just a few of the differences between Scotch whiskey and Bourbon.

  1. They were made in different locations.

A whiskey can legally be called bourbon if it is made in any US state. Many people believe that whiskey was made only in Kentucky, given the fact that Kentucky’s limestone water makes it an ideal location for the production and distribution of bourbon.

Scotch is made only in Scotland, as its name suggests.  Despite some liquors, such as Japanese whisky, sharing many similarities to Scotch, you cannot call them Scotch because they were not made in Scotland. Based on their laws, Scotch must be distilled and aged only in Scotland.

  1. They have different ingredients.

Both are made from grain mixtures, but the US government has strict guidelines for bourbon whiskey. It must contain at least 51% corn in its grain mixture. You can use rye, malted wheat, or barley for the remainder.

On the other hand, the main ingredients in Scotch whisky are malted barley, yeast and water. Other whole grains are permitted by the Scottish for coloring purposes only.

  1. They differ in alcohol by volume requirements.

Bourbon and Whiskey should be distilled at a minimum of 40% alcohol and bottled at that level. However, both have different standards for the maximum, Scotch should not exceed 94.8% alcohol per volume, and Bourbon must not exceed 80% alcohol per volume.

  1. They have different aging patterns.

There is no minimum age for Bourbon. Although it must be aged at least two years to be distinguished as a straight Bourbon or a whiskey of distinct quality. In addition, it must not contain any flavors or coloring. Conversely, Scotch must be aged for at least three years.

Scotch vs. Bourbon: The Taste

While both may have smokey or charred flavors, Scotch and Bourbon exhibit it differently. Scotch’s smokey flavor is derived from the compounds released in the peat fires while drying malted barley. Peated whisky is only produced in two of the five Scotch-producing areas in Scotland. On the other hand, Bourbon gets its smokey, malty, and vanilla-like flavor through the burned barrels it ages in. Moreover, it has a sweeter flavor than Scotch.

Bourbon vs. Scotch: Which is Better?

It doesn’t make sense to argue about which one is better. Despite the differences in Scotch and Bourbon’s taste, they both taste great. They even have the same amount of calories, even if their nutritional content is compared.

With regards to their health benefits, they also have the same, including the following:

  • Prevent Heart Disease

Multiple studies have shown that drinking a glass of whisky every day can reduce your risk of developing heart disease or heart failure. Harvard University has found that moderate amounts of alcohol increase “good cholesterol”. This natural protection is excellent for heart disease prevention.

  • Promotes Weight Loss

Whisky is not only delicious in flavor but also contains low sodium and no fat. The body can quickly process simple sugar in this drink, thus promoting weight loss.

  • Diabetes Control

Whisky is suitable for those at high risk of developing diabetes. A study has shown that whisky can reduce your risk of developing diabetes by as much as 40%.

  • Boost Your Immune System

Whisky can help with the common colds, but it can also prevent them. Whisky is rich in ellagic acid, which when combined with vitamins, can boost your immune system’s ability to fight off illnesses.

Key Takeaway

Now you know the differences between Scotch Whisky and Bourbon Whiskey, based on their characteristics, taste, origin, ingredients, and health benefits. Hopefully, this information gave you an insight into how versatile and unique these spirits are. If this discussion made you intriguingly thirsty, you could search online for the nearest wine shop in your area to enjoy a glass of your favorite whiskey today.

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