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Whiskey and Bourbon: What’s the Difference?

Old Tennessee Distilling Company / Whiskey  / Whiskey and Bourbon: What’s the Difference?
The difference between whiskey and bourbon.

Whiskey and Bourbon: What’s the Difference?

Whiskey and bourbon are two spirits distilled from fermented grains. With their smooth and smokey tastes, these alcohols provide the perfect base for countless drinks and have an excellent flavor by themselves. Many drink recipes allow for the two to be interchanged if necessary, so you may be wondering – what’s the difference? 


A common saying states that all bourbon is whiskey, but not all whiskey is bourbon, and that’s often the case. Bourbon can be considered to be a specific type of American whiskey. In general, whiskey is a spirit fermented from a variety of different grains before being aged in a wooden barrel. The grains used for fermenting often include rye, wheat, corn, or barley depending on the whiskey being made. Whiskey is also made all over the world and not confined to a specific geographical location. 


Bourbon, on the other hand, is always made from 51% fermented corn and stored specifically in charred-oak wooden barrels. Bourbon is also only made in America, as opposed to other regions of the world, like whiskey. Finally, bourbon should be distilled to 125 proof when going into the barrel, after being distilled to less than 160 proof, originally. This American classic should never contain any additives like flavors or coloring. 


When it comes to whiskey and bourbon, both are iconic spirits with timeless finishes. The rules for producing bourbon are much more rigid than those for whiskey. For example, while both should be stored in wooden barrels, bourbon guidelines state that only charred-oak wooden barrels should be used, while any wooden oak barrel is acceptable for whiskey. Whiskey can also contain different additives, flavors, and colors to produce variations of the spirit. 

Whiskey and bourbon are must-haves for stocking any home bar. While they are similar, there are a few key differences that make them unique and give them their unforgettable tastes. At Old Tennessee Distilling Company, we’ve been in the practice of distilling for years. Stop by our Kodak, Tennessee location to taste the difference between our award-winning whiskey and bourbon for yourself. Visit our website to explore all the different spirits we offer and to learn more about our distilling process!

Kent Merritt

Gatlinburg native Kent Merrit oversees the behind-the-scenes operations at Old Tennessee Distilling Company. He has over 35 years of manufacturing and business management experience and is passionate about developing and promoting businesses with exceptional products and excellent customer service. He invites you to pop in at Old Tennessee Distilling Co. for a free tasting of moonshine and distilled spirits. "Take a moment, take a sip, and get a taste for Tennessee."

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Tennessee Frost Moonshine

Our 100 proof traditional moonshine is made from heirloom corn we grow right here in East Tennessee, Tennessee. This is shine the way it’’s been made for hundreds of years.

100 PROOF / 50% ALC BY VOL.