Updated December 11, 2020 at 1:43 PM CT

Confused about Whiskey, Bourbon, Rye, Corn or Wheat? So was I 

     I saw an article the other day discussing the ‘Top 20 Whiskey’s of 2020.’ They chose Larceny Barrel Proof Bourbon Batch A120” as the best of 2020. So I head to the liquor store to grab a bottle. I had honestly never heard of Larceny Bourbon. It was right next to Jim Beam, and priced at $20.00, which threw me off. How could this bourbon be the highest rated for 2020? Turns out that little detail “BatchA120” makes a huge difference. That was not available, so I bought the basic Larceny Bourbon and it was… Jim Beam-ish, which I’m no fan of. Larceny releases the small batch - good stuff three times a year in limited quantities. I'll be waiting.

So what’s the real difference between bourbon and whiskey?

Lets clear this up once and for all:-

Generally, you’ll hear: “All bourbon is whiskey, but not all whiskey is bourbon.” Bourbon is a specific type of whiskey made in America. But it’s a little more complicated than that.


Whiskey is a spirit distilled from grains—some combination of wheat, corn, barley and/or rye—and aged in barrels. Whiskey is made around the world, and you’ve probably tasted (or heard of) famous varietals, like Scotch whisky or Irish whiskey. Bourbon is another kind of whiskey. Think ‘bourbon whiskey’ from now on and it will help.

Malt, wheat, corn and even rye

Bourbon from rye will give you a spicier, dried fruit flavour. Bourbon from corn gives you a full-bodied, sweet oaky fruit flavour due to the corn. 

A rye whiskey must be created from a mash of at least 51 percent. Mash is a mixture of grain, water and yeast that is mixed together and ferments, producing the alcohol that will, in turn, become whiskey. The other ingredients are typically malted barley, wheat and corn. 

Bourbons usually have strong notes of vanilla, oak and caramel. These pleasant, often smooth notes make bourbon tasty enjoyed neat or on the rocks, as well as in cocktails. 

Bourbons made with a higher amount of wheat (aka “wheated bourbons”), tend to be mellow and softer. Maker’s Mark is a popular example. Bourbons with a higher amount of rye will be spicier, like Bulleit Bourbon.

Bourbon is American

Like Tequila can only be called Tequila if it comes from a specific state in Mexico, there’s a strict list of requirements in order for a spirit to qualify as a bourbon. According to American distiller Jim Beam, the guidelines say that:

- Bourbon must be made in the US (and 95% of it is made in Kentucky!)

- It must be made from a fermented mash of at least 51% corn, though most are closer to 70% corn

- Bourbon must be distilled at no more than 160 proof, and be stored at no more than 125 proof

- Bourbon is aged for at least two years in a new, charred white oak barrel

- Last but not least, bourbons never contain additives, like color or flavor



Ran DeBord - AllAccessSportingNews 

 Follow @AASNSports on Twitter

Attributes: AASNSports; JimBeamDistillers

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