Bourbon and whisky aren’t exactly the same thing. Well, all bourbon is whisky, but not all whisky is bourbon. Is your mind blown yet? Bourbon must be made in America, and it must have a grain mixture composition that is at least 51 percent corn. Bourbon must be stored in new, charred oak containers and be distilled to no more than 160 proof (80 percent alcohol by volume). The actual law guiding whisky states that “the distillate must possess the taste, aroma and characteristics generally attributed to whisky.” Like bourbon, whisky must be stored in oak containers. However, it can have a maximum of 190 proof (95 percent alcohol by volume).
Whisky can be spelled with an “e” before the “y.” This is generally how it’s done in Scotland, Canada and Japan. The United States and Ireland prefer to omit the “e.” This is also how Maker’s Mark does it to honor the Samuels’ Scottish Heritage. The general flavor profile for bourbon whiskey is vanilla, oak and caramel notes. When you’re quenching your thirst with whisky, you can enjoy a variety of flavors depending on what you want. Whisky can be of the sweet, nutty, spicy or softer vanilla variety.
Want to learn more, including details about the charred barrel aging process? Check out the full whisky vs. bourbon comparison infographic by Maker’s Mark!