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
October 26, 2015 at 9:31 pm
Our HUDSON BABY BOURBON is a tasty case in point.
November 13, 2015 at 3:37 pm
Reblogged this on LouGirl502 and commented:
There’s always confusion about whiskey. Love it when Michael Veach clears some of it up!
July 13, 2017 at 1:03 pm
Interesting article! Got me thinking about the bourbons that are aged in used wine barrels. If they are not aged in new American oak barrels then technically are they bourbon?
October 25, 2017 at 1:01 am
they have to say “Bourbon finished in XXXX barrels”
and yes, they still count, apparently. (Makers 46, Angels envy)
February 26, 2019 at 11:57 pm
You can “finish” in such a barrel, but it is NOT bourbon if it is “aged” in used wine barrels. And it must be new charred oak barrels (don’t have to be American oak, by the way).
February 28, 2019 at 2:16 am
But Corn whiskey can be finished in used or uncharred barrels. I never said Bourbon could be but corn whiskey can. Personally I think when you add flavor from “finishing barrels” it is no longer Bourbon but simply whiskey.
October 26, 2018 at 4:31 am
Michael, once again, I have learned something via this blog. I wasn’t aware an uncharred barrel is used for Corn Whiskey. Can you provide me the name of one? I would like to taste it.
April 12, 2019 at 12:24 pm
Mellow Corn from Heaven Hill. About $14/lt
February 26, 2019 at 11:54 pm
Quincy Street Distillery’s Bourbon Spring® (our “baby” bourbon) and Laughton Bros.™ straight bourbon are additional examples. And we do make the same 84% corn mash bill as a Salt Creek corn whiskey, just age it in the used barrels from our bourbons!
February 28, 2019 at 2:17 am
What is the other 16%? All malt or do you use another grain as well?
October 26, 2020 at 2:59 am
Love it! Straight to the point!