There’s a lot of confusion out there about the different types of American whiskeys. One common misconception is the difference between bourbon and corn whiskey, since they share many characteristics. Bourbon has to be at least 51% corn, but there is no upper limit. Bourbon can be 100% corn if the distiller wishes it to be. A lot of people think that since corn whiskey is 80% corn, if you go over 80% corn it’s no longer bourbon, but this is not correct. The difference is in the cooperage.
Corn whiskey has to be aged in uncharred or used containers. This contrasts with bourbon, which has to be aged in brand new charred containers. And that is why bourbon with over 80% corn in the mash bill is bourbon and not corn whiskey.
Photo Courtesy of Maggie Kimberl