The commonality between Scotch and Bourbon whiskey is pretty remarkable when you consider that only Scotch whiskies are actually produced in Scotland. The commonality also leads many people to believe that the difference between the two is purely a matter of personal preference. However, there are important differences that can actually make a real difference to the quality and enjoyment of your whiskey-drinking experience.
The main difference between Scotch whiskey and bourbon is in the manner in which the ingredients are added to the fermenting process. Bourbon is aged in barrels of different woods and depending on how the wood is selected, it can impart a number of characteristics to the final product. For example, walnut and oak barrels have a much deeper, richer flavor than the other varieties. The flavor of whiskey bourbon can also be improved with certain mixtures, although this is less common.
If you are a big fan of whiskey, then chances are you have been exposed to some of the many varieties that are available. You may even have enjoyed a few favorite brands. Knowing the differences between Scotch and Bourbon whiskey may be important to your enjoyment of this great drink. Both Scotch and Bourbon are made from whiskey and both of their chemical and alcohol compositions are very similar. However, in order to truly understand the difference between Scotch and Bourbon whiskey, you will need to obtain a better understanding of whiskey itself.
Whiskies are a liquid that is produced by distilling alcohol. The longer the alcohol is processed inside the barrels, the greater the amount of flavor will be transferred into the final liquid. The longer the distillation process takes, the more aroma can be achieved. Many scotch whiskies are matured in oak barrels, but new barrels may also be used.
Bourbon is often referred to as “brandy” or “bourbon.” Bourbon is a lighter version of scotch whiskies because it is not finished with a leavening agent, such as grain alcohol. Unlike scotch whiskey, bourbon is not always completely matured in oak barrels. Sometimes, distillers add corn sugar to the finished whiskey to add a mellow, sweet flavor.
Both Scotch and Bourbon whiskey can be separated into three categories: straight grain, mashing, and rye. A pure white whiskey is made by using only straight grain, no other ingredients, and aging in oak barrels. Mashing occurs when the whiskey is mixed with water or alcohol and then the whiskey is added in the same way it was for mashing. rye can be further categorized as “burgundy” or “blenheim” and can include both wheat and rye.
Blended whiskey is made by combining different brands of whiskey (sometimes all in one blend) and then putting them in small stainless steel bottles and labeled with a “proof.” The term “blend” comes from the process that the whiskey is blended – one brand is picked, fermented, then bottled at a slightly warmer temperature than the others, all with the same recipe. The most famous example of this is Jack Daniel’s whiskey; although all of his blends are from the same distiller, the label simply says that it is a “Blended Scotch whiskey from the United States.” Kentucky Bourbon is made in Kentucky, which is part of the United States, but it is a “Blend Scotch Whiskey from Kentucky.”
There are also some subtle differences in the manner in which the grains are added to the mixture. Many of the Distillers of Scotch whiskies age their whiskey in oak barrels, but most of the major whiskey makers have their whiskey matured in special casks called refill barrels. There are also some newer models of American whiskey that are being aged in new oak barrels, although not as widely used. This is largely due to the lack of availability of oak barrels in many states. The result is that the majority of whiskey is aged in other countries’ barrels.
Another main difference is the type of yeast that is used. All whiskies are fermented with yeast, although some may be treated with a blend of two or three types of yeast. Rose of Sharon is one example of a whiskey that is produced using traditional yeast. Other whiskies are made with a blend of different yeasts. The most important factor is that all of the alcoholic beverage is fermented.
Another key difference is the method by which the grain is distilled. Most of the whiskey produced in Scotland is aged in special pot stills called stillhouses. In the United States, most of the whiskey that is produced is processed at a lower temperature in stainless steel tanks. The result is that the flavor and aroma are altering, making the whiskey lighter and less rich. Because of this, the price is more moderate.
Of course there is the age of the whiskey itself, and there are some distinctive differences between the different brands of Scotch. For instance, young scotch tends to be bitter, while older whiskies are sweeter and tend to have a deeper, more floral taste. The aging of the whiskey is also another thing to consider when looking for a great scotch option. Younger batches generally do not have as many different flavors, as the aging process takes place in the barrels. A good way to distinguish between the young and the aged varieties is to pay attention to the bottle label.
- If you’re looking for a light, easy-to-swallow whiskey, then you might want to stick with scotch, as it is the lowest percentage of alcohol in the recipe. When making bourbon, you need to use higher percentages of rye and wheat. Some recipes call for a little less rye, but the end result is usually delicious anyway.
- A final note about rye and Scotch: rye is not a true whiskey, as it is simply a mix of wheat and barley. It has none of the complex tastes and aromas of true whiskey. Barley is much less fermenting than wheat and has a softer, less bitter taste. The result is that the alcohol does not taste as richly as whiskey. That’s why there are fewer flavors added to scotch.