Bourbon is a type of whiskey, whereas not all whiskies are bourbons!
Bourbon is a type of whiskey that gets its name from Bourbon County, Kentucky, where it originated. Bourbon tends to be amber-colored, and a little sweeter and heavier in texture than other whiskeys.
What make a bourbon a bourbon and not just an ordinary whiskey? The following is from Men's Journal: What, Exactly, Is the Difference Between Bourbon and Whiskey?
The most popular form of American whiskey is bourbon, which has its own specific definition.
"Bourbon needs to be produced in America and made from 51 percent corn, and whisky does not," says Maker's Mark Master Distiller Greg Davis. Bourbon also needs to be stored in new charred-oak barrels, whereas whiskey barrels do need to be oak but not new or charred. "Lastly, to be called bourbon, the liquid needs to be distilled to no more than 160 proof and entered into the barrel at 125." For other whiskies the liquid must be distilled to no more than 190 proof. David notes that this isn't just common practice — "it's actual bourbon law."
What Makes a Bourbon: A Cheat Sheet
•Must be made in the United States.
•Must contain 51 percent corn.
•Must be aged in new oak charred barrels.
•Must be distilled to no more than 160 proof and entered into the barrel at 125 proof.
•Must be bottled at no less than 80 proof.
•Must not contain any added flavoring, coloring or other additives.
The following is taken from Bourbon vs. Whiskey:
Somewhat like champagne isn't champagne unless it's made in Champagne, France, Bourbon is not actually "Bourbon" if it is made outside the USA, even though other whiskeys may adhere to the same recipe and distillation guidelines.
The legal requirements for whiskey to be called Tennessee Whiskey are that the whiskey should be:
-distilled in Tennessee
-made from at least 51% corn
-filtered through maple charcoal, and
-aged in new, charred oak barrels.
This is the process by which Jack Daniel's is manufactured. The company is the largest whiskey producer in Tennessee and wields an outsize influence on liquor laws in the state; they lobbied the state legislature to create such stringent requirements for labeling Tennessee Whiskey. Other whiskey producers in the state, including UK-based Diageo that owns Tennessee's No. 2 whiskey distiller George Dickel, oppose these criteria and are lobbying to have them loosened.
Some consider Tennessee Whiskey a Bourbon, while most do not. The fact remains that both Tennessee Whiskey and Jack Daniel's are filtered through maple charcoal making them a different product.
What is scotch?
The main difference between scotch and whisky is geographic, but also ingredients and spellings. Scotch is whisky made in Scotland, while bourbon is whiskey made in the U.S.A, generally Kentucky. Scotch is made mostly from malted barley, while bourbon is distilled from corn. If you’re in England and ask for a whisky, you’ll get Scotch. But in Ireland, you’ll get Irish whiskey (yep, they spell it differently for a little colour).
How long should Scotch Whisky be aged?
It is not possible to lay down any precise age as being the best for a particular whisky. Generally speaking, Malt Whiskies require longer to mature fully than Grain Whiskies. UK and EU law insist that Scotch Whisky should be at least three years old. However, it is the practice of the trade to mature for substantially longer than the legal minimum.
What is rye?
Rye whisky, like its name suggests, is a whiskey that is distilled from at least 51% rye. What is rye? Rye is a type of grass that is a member of the wheat tribe and closely related to barley.
Canadian whisky is simply a rye whisky.