Jim Beam continues to be the sales leader among bourbon

What is the difference between bourbon and whiskey is a question always asked.  However, I believe there is a better and more in depth definition than the typical “All bourbon is whiskey but not all whiskey is bourbon”. 

The above statement is true but lets take a look at some of the nuanced differences between whiskeys.

Bourbon must:

Be made in the United States, made from at least 51% corn, and distilled at no higher than 160 proof. In addition, it is put into a new, charred oak container at no higher than 125 proof 

Kentucky Bourbon: To be called Kentucky Bourbon it must be produced and aged for at least one year in the state of Kentucky.

Straight Bourbon: To be called straight bourbon it must be aged for a minimum of 2 years. If aged less than 4 years there must be an age statement on the bottle.

Small Batch: There is no standard definition so individual distilleries have their specific rules.

Single Barrel: Again with no legal definition in place it is implied that all of the bourbon in a bottle of single barrel came from one barrel.

Bourbon is pure because it is made of grains, yeast, and water with no additives. Once a flavoring would be added than that product becomes a flavored whiskey. Jim Beam continues to be the sales leader among American bourbons.

Rye Whiskey must contain at least 51% rye when made in America. Templeton Rye Whiskey is made with 95% rye and is a great introduction to this category.

Wheat Whiskey must contain at least 51% wheat with some containing up to 100% wheat.  Bernheim Original Wheat Whiskey distilled by Heaven Hill is a whiskey worth sampling.

Whiskeys throughout the world do not meet the same demanding standards of bourbon.  Note the difference in the following examples.

Canadian Whisky allows the introduction of artificial flavoring and caramel coloring. The sales leader in this category is Crown Royal.

Scotch Whisky can use artificial coloring. Glenfiddich sells in excess of one million cases per year.

Irish Whiskey can use artificial coloring. This growing category has Jameson as the volume leader.

Barrel storage warehouse or rickhouse at the Jim Beam Distillery in Clermont, Kentucky