Difference Between Blended Whiskey & Bourbon

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Whiskey is an alcoholic spirit made from distilled grain or corn that have aged in oak barrels. There are multiple types of whiskey, including bourbon, a straight whiskey made primarily from corn, and blended whiskey, a mixture of straight whiskey and other neutral grain spirits. Blended whiskey is often regarded as being of lower quality than bourbon, although some drinkers find the flavors are similar.

Bourbon Properties

  • Bourbon is type of whiskey that is made only in the United States. Bourbon is aged for at least two years in charred oak barrels. It has to consist of at least 51 percent corn. Bourbon must also be distilled at a maximum of 80 percent alcohol by volume, which means that it is at most 160 proof alcohol. Well-aged bourbon contains flavors reminiscent of vanilla, praline, toffee and dried fruit, as well as a spiciness attributed to the oak barrels in which it ages.

Bourbon History

  • Bourbon whiskey has its roots in the frontier period of the late 18th century, when families were moving to the then-unsettled regions of Kentucky and Tennessee. These states had optimal soil for producing corn, the main component of bourbon, and limestone-filtered water used to make the alcohol. Bourbon whiskey gained popularity for its smoothness. Although many bourbon distilleries were permanently shut down during the national prohibition of alcohol from 1919 to 1933, bourbon has regained its popularity among drinkers (See Reference 1). By the decree of the United States government, today bourbon can only be produced in the United States and not in other countries (See Reference 2).

Blended Whiskey Properties

  • Blended whiskey from America must contain at least 20 percent straight, unadulterated whiskey. distillers mix this pure whiskey with neutral spirits or other higher-proof whiskeys to make the final blended product. Although blended whiskey contains straight whiskey that has aged, the mixed product itself does not necessarily have to be aged. Blended whiskey has a general whiskey flavor, typically without any definitive characteristics. Some drinkers associate the flavor of blended whiskey with that of bourbon.

Blended Whiskey History

  • Blended whiskeys first appeared in the early 19th century, when neutral spirits were first created. People experimenting with distillation would blend non-regulated proportions of straight whiskeys, like bourbon or rye, with grain spirits, and then flavor the mix with ingredients like sherry and tobacco. The resulting products were cheaper but possessed less taste character. The sales of blended whiskey increased during World War II, when straight whiskey supplies were scarcer but could be stretched through blending. However, blended whiskey has decreased in popularity since then.

References

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