Bourbon versus Whiskey – 6-Mar-2021

Bottles of liquor on shelves

All bourbon is whisky, but not all whisky is bourbon.

-Fred Minnick

How are you feeling this morning?

Sunrise over a field and treeline

Did you have yourself a big, ol’ roof-raising, barn-stomping good time last night?

Are you moving slowly, or did you wake up, on this fine Saturday morning, with a Honey-Do List as long as the Bill of Rights, zoned in on tackling at least a dozen of them?

The Bill of Rights

But first, Advil, coffee and bacon…

Woman with headache and cup of coffee

I feel like a champ today.

Probably because my Honey-Do List is NADA.

Don’t be jelly…

Most likely, I feel incredible because I rarely get hammered anymore.


I’m a far cry from being the Crazy Train conductor I was 30 years ago.

Colorful train and conductor waving out the window

The year of 2020, though, I think we all needed some drinks to contend with the running wood chipper life was dangling us all directly above.

Covid Juice - Bulleit Bourbon

I’m a bourbon drinker.

Roughly 18 billion years ago, I worked with a group of young men who were from Kentucky.

(We were ALL young back then.)

What I image all houses in Lexington, KY look like

These fine gentlemen introduced me to the subtleties and nuances of bourbon, and how it differed from whiskey.

“Bourbon is Kentucky’s true state drink.”

-Lynn Marie Hulsman

Knob Creek Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Being Kentucky boys, they were adamant that, if a libation was calling itself bourbon, it was from Kentucky.

That’s not necessarily true now.

Now, you have to be just a tad bit more specific when referring to the Kentucky ownership of bourbon, by stating, “If it’s Kentucky bourbon, it has to be made in Kentucky.”

Jim Beam, Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Same-same, pretty much.

Mark Twain loved bourbon, and, by God, that has always been good enough for me.

Glass of bourbon and a cigar

“If I cannot drink bourbon and smoke cigars in Heaven, then I shall not go.”

-Mark Twain

However, there are the bourbon versus whiskey differences.

two glasses of bourbon

So let’s just get those out of the way and make the distinctions.


Here we go…

Most simply put, the reason bourbon is different from whiskey is the way it’s aged and made.

All whiskey is made of a mixture of fermented grains, a.k.a. mash.

Bourbon grains must consist of at least 51% corn.

Corn stalks

The corn is what gives bourbon that sweet, delectable flavor.

Don’t forget the barrels!

Oak barrels stacked on racks

New, charred, oak barrels are a must for bourbon, and it must be “aged” for at least two years.

No sloppy seconds!

Bourbon cannot be aged in barrels that were previously used, and no additives or coloring, of any kind, are allowed.

Nothing but the best when it comes to bourbon.

Maker's Mark, my old standby and favorite
My old standby. I love Maker’s Mark.

The technicalities of distilling bourbon are written in stone.

Not really, but there are strict distillate guidelines that a spirit must achieve, if it wants to be called bourbon and not whiskey.

Barterhouse Kentucky Bourbon

For instance, bourbon mash has to be distilled at 160 proof or less, and then aged in those beautiful, charred, oak barrels, until it is no more than 125 proof.

Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Before it’s bottled, bourbon is diluted, but no less than 80 proof.

It’s all about the taste and flavor of the spirit.

The last bottle of bourbon I bought was 125 proof, and it was frickin’ delicious.

Jim Beam and Wild Turnkey bottles

Taking recommendations from friends and my favorite liquor store owner, I try new bourbons all of the time.

Frankly, I convinced it’s made me a better person.

“Bourbon does for me what a piece of cake did for Proust.”

-Walker Percy

Slice of pink cake with white frosting and green stuff... not sure about the green stuff.

Not gonna lie, I love cake, too!

One bottle of bourbon usually lasts me about a month.

Usually, I serve it over large ice cubes, but sometimes you just sip it straight and enjoy the hell out of it.

highball glass of bourbon, next to outdoor fire.

No mixers required.

If you need a mixer, you’ve not yet acquired the appreciation for bourbon.

Get it together, would ya?

Tonight is Saturday night.

Outdoor marquee that says, Live Music Friday & Saturday 7-10PM

IF you’re going to enjoy an adult beverage (or ten) this evening, might I suggest that you enjoy a delicious highball of bourbon?

Man's hand gripping a glass of bourbon.

I’ll do the same, as I lift my glass to the men and women of Kentucky, who know a good thing when they taste it.

More tomorrow,


Restart. Refocus. Reinvent.


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