What Comes First – the Bourbon or the Whiskey?

What’s the difference between bourbon and whiskey? Is there a difference? We’ve got the facts for you to know – so next time you order a bourbon neat, you’ll know exactly what you’re getting.



Whiskey is an amber-colored liquor made from a blend of fermented grains – usually corn, rye, barley, and wheat, sometimes even rice (keep a look out!). The variations of these grains are what give the whiskey it’s distinctive taste, and where the different flavors are born.



Bourbon, on the other hand, is a specific type of whiskey. In order to be deemed a bourbon, the whiskey must match all of the following criteria:

  • Must be made in the United States.
  • Must be made in new, charred, white oak barrels.
  • Must be at least 51 percent corn.
  • Must be distilled at less than 160 proof and 80% alcohol by volume.
  • Must be entered into a barrel at below 125 proof.


While whiskey has a little more lenient process, bourbon has these strict guidelines so that its waters aren’t muddied up too much. The next time you order a glass of bourbon, you’ll know it went through a good amount of love and care to get it in the glass ready to be sipped.

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