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What Are the Differences Between Scotch and Bourbon?

Many people are confused about the differences between Scotch and bourbon.

Although both of which fall under the category of whiskey — or whisky — these two spirits are different in many ways. If you’ve been drinking or planning to try these alcoholic beverages, you might have been searching the internet about what makes these two similar and different. If you’ve yet to find the answer, we’ve prepared a guide for you to check out.

What Is Whiskey?

Whiskey or whisky is a type of distilled alcoholic drink made from fermented grain mashes — usually, wheat, corn, barley, and rye. Whiskey is the name used by Americans and the Irish, while whisky is the name used by the Japanese, Scottish, and Australians. Either way, this spirit is stored and aged in wooden casks or barrels with charred oak surfaces.

Bourbon vs. Scotch

Bourbon and Scotch are both popular around the globe and are known to have strong flavors, but that is where their similarities stop. They have different taste profiles, which is mainly due to the grains used.

Here are some of the other differences between Scotch and bourbon:

1. They are made in different places.

For a whiskey to be legally called bourbon, it should be made in any state in the United States. This is contrary to many people’s belief that it is only made in Kentucky. The limestone water in Kentucky, however, makes it an ideal place for the production of bourbon. This natural mineral water filters out impurities, such as iron.

Scotch, as the name implies, is only made in Scotland. It is, by law, to be distilled and matured in the said country. Although some liquors — such as Japanese whisky — have lots of similarities with Scotch, they can’t be called Scotch since they are not made in Scotland.

2. They’re made from different ingredients.

Although both are made from grain mashes, the U.S. government is strict when it comes to bourbon whiskey. It must be made using a grain mixture of at least 51% corn. The remaining percentage can either be malted wheat, barley, or rye — or a combination of these three.

On the other hand, the primary ingredient of Scotch whisky is malted barley, along with yeast and water. For coloring purposes, Scottish people are allowed to use other whole grains.

3. They have different alcohol by volume requirements.

While both of them should be distilled and bottled at a minimum of 40% alcohol, they have different requirements when it comes to the maximum. Scotch must not exceed 94.8% alcohol by volume, and bourbon must have a maximum of 80% alcohol by volume.

4. They have different aging processes.

The aging period of bourbon has no minimum. However, to classify it as straight bourbon or a whiskey with distinction in quality, it must be aged for a minimum of two years. Additionally, no flavors or coloring must be added. Scotch, on the other hand, must be aged for a minimum of three years.

The difference in their aging processes is mainly due to the climate. Bourbon matures at a faster rate because of the warm climate in Kentucky, where it is usually distilled and aged. As an approximation, it matures twice as fast as Scotch does.

Bourbon vs. Scotch: Taste

Both may have charred or smokey flavors, but Scotch and bourbon get it in different ways. The smokey flavors of Scotch come from the compounds released by the peat fires used when drying malted barley. Only two out of the five Scotch-producing regions in Scotland are known for producing peated whisky. Bourbon, on the other hand, gets its smokey, oaky, and vanilla-like flavor from the charred surfaces of the barrels where it ages. It also has a sweeter flavor compared to Scotch.

Bourbon vs. Scotch: Which Is Better?

There is no point in arguing about which of the two is better. Despite the many differences between Scotch and bourbon, both of them taste great, and it all comes down to people’s preferences. Even when their nutritional content is compared, both contain the same amounts of calories.

Additionally, both of them bring many benefits, such as the following:

  • Provides Antioxidants – According to a 2007 study published in the Journal of Food Science, whiskey contains antioxidants that help neutralize the body’s harmful free radicals. Another study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition also suggests that whiskey contains antioxidants.
  • Reduces Uric Acid Levels – The findings of a 2002 study show that moderate intake of whiskey may help improve high uric acid levels, reducing the risks of gout attacks. Another study published in 2014 suggests the same.
  • Reduces Risks of Heart Disease – A 2002 review suggests that moderately drinking alcoholic beverages, whiskey included, decreases the likelihood of heart disease occurring. The same findings were observed in a 2014 review and 2011 study.
  • Promotes Brain Health – Moderate consumption of alcohol, including whiskey, is also linked to reduced risks of different brain disorders, such as dementia, according to a 2003 study.

While moderate consumption yields many benefits, too much whiskey can lead to the following issues:

  • Liver Disease
  • Weight Gain
  • Increased Risks of Death
  • Alcohol Addiction

Visit Village Warehouse Wine & Spirits

The differences between Scotch and bourbon don’t make either less than the other; if anything, their differences make them unique in flavor.

If you’re looking for the best wines, beers, and spirits, visit us at Village Warehouse Wine & Spirits. We are a full-service liquor store that provides an array of alcoholic beverages, bourbon and Scotch included, from different places around the globe.

Contact us if you have any inquiries or questions about our liquor. You can also drop by our liquor store in Avon, Colorado. Call us today!