aka Bourbon vs. Whiskey

Bourbon vs Whiskey. Learn the Difference.

Fred drinking Jim Beam

Bourbon (bour·bon)
NOUN – A whiskey distilled from a fermented mash containing not less than 51 percent corn in addition to malt and rye. see Jim Beam

Many of you know that Jim Beam and I have been friends for many years. When I ask for Jim at a bar and the Bartender grabs for Jack I get upset. Some people don’t think there’s a difference… but how wrong they are…

Bourbon drinkers take pride in their beverage.

Jim and I are friends, Jack’s never even stepped inside my home. (Jim’s got his own room)

Most people believe bourbon and whiskey are synonymous. Although there aren’t huge differences between the two, we Bourbon drinkers are here to help inform you that not all whiskeys are the same.

Bourbon falls into the Whiskey family… so all Bourbons are Whiskeys… but not all Whiskeys can be Bourbons. (Kind of like all Porsches are sports cars, but not all sports cars are Porsches…)

Whiskey is distilled liquor, made from the starchy materials of various grains. The grains are first ground into a mixture called mash. The mash is then fermented, distilled, blended and aged.

The type of grain and water contribute greatly to the taste of a particular Whiskey. After being distilled, the whiskey is then aged in wooden barrels – and, of course, the type of wood used also contributes to the taste as well.

The differences in how the whiskey is processed separates the Bourbons from the Whiskeys…

In order to be Bourbon, the whiskey must be distilled from grain mash containing 51% corn and aged at least two years in a new, oak barrel.

Jim Beam is Bourbon.

Jack Daniels is not.

The whiskey bottle’s label contains an amazing amount of information to help you separate the good from the ugly. Jack Daniels, for example, says “Tennessee Sour Mash Whiskey,” meaning that (by law) the entire Whiskey was made in the state of Tennessee, and that some of the mash used to make one batch is added to the next batch (that’s what “sour” means).

Jim Beam’s label identifies the bourbon as a Sour Mash Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. What this means, is that Jim Beam is not blended with other whiskeys, that the mash contains 51% corn, some of the mash from the previous batch is added to the next one, and that the entire product was made within the state of Kentucky. (The label also says “The World’s Finest Bourbon”)

I hope that now you’ll see why when Fred asks for Jim Beam and gets Jack Daniels, you have one unhappy Fred.