Separating The Grain From The Barrel

Whiskey v Bourbon, What’s The Difference?

What’s the difference betweena Bourbon and Irish whiskey you ask? And is bourbon a whiskey? Firstly, yes it is. And we are here to tell you all and more about the differences between both. As whiskey is a drink of the people the world over. With an array of variables and methods that make each unique to their location and place of origin. Whether that’s in Ireland, Scotland or in America with the bourbon style.

The key differnce is usally, but not always, found in the ingredients and production methods used. So, to qualify as a bourbon say, at least 51% of the grain used must be corn according to the esteemed American Bourbon Association, . The remaining mash bill must consist of rye, wheat or malted barley. You see, t’s all in the details, my friend.

The Grains Of Distinction: Difference In Ingredients

Person sketching while enjoying a Jameson Irish Whiskey on the rocks

As with many things in life, when it comes to bourbon it’s what’s inside that counts.
The key difference between it and other beloved whiskey spirits lies in the blend,
which ultimately impacts the flavour profile.

    • To be classified as bourbon, the mash used must contain a minimum of 51% corn, with many distillers opting for a mix of grains that’s around 65-75% corn. It’s no secret that corn is considered a sweet grain. In other words, when it comes to bourbon, it’s not just the taste that’s sweet, but also the main ingredient.
    • Bourbon is a purist’s dream – during the distillation process, nothing can be added except for water. This means that all of the flavour must come from carefully selected grains and the new, charred oak barrels.
    • The strict regulations even gave rise to Tennessee whiskey and American rye whiskey as some brands wanted to mix things up with additional ingredients.
a barell used for whiskey ageing

Battle Of Barrels: The Different Ageing Processes

Oak is the VIP of all whiskey and bourbon maturation – it’s strong yet porous, giving the liquid room to breathe and develop its distinct flavour. Unlike other woods, oak won’t throw a leaky fit when it gets oversaturated. It’s the reliable and steady partner every whiskey deserves on its journey to perfection.

Bourbon is subject to some strict rules – by law, bourbon must be aged in brand-new charred oak barrels without any additives or colouring. To earn the coveted title of “straight bourbon whiskey,” the spirit must have been aged in new, charred oak barrels for at least two years.

It’s worth noting that these barrels can only be used once for bourbon, but they can go on to impart bourbon’s distinct flavour in the aging process of other spirits, like tequila in Mexico or scotch in Scotland. Talk about a delicious legacy!

Interesting fact: there are more barrels of bourbon than people in Kentucky.

Even more interesting fact: There are nearly 4 times the number of barrels aging in Midleton than people in County Cork.

As Jameson Irish Whiskey is carefully crafted with a unique aging process that involves using casks previously used to age bourbon in the US and a fortified wine called Sherry in Spain. This allows the casks to impart their unique personality to the whiskey, with notes of toasted wood, vanilla and sweet sherry adding to the complexity of the final product.

It’s a true marriage of flavours that elevates Jameson to a whole new level of smoothness.

friends enjoying Jameson Irish Whiskey outdoors

Where They Are Made: Ireland V Kentucky

We’ll be focusing on the unique qualities of Irish whiskey – a beloved beverage that is crafted on the beautiful island of Ireland. To earn the coveted “Irish” label, the whiskey must mature for at least three years on the island, a rule that is as strictly enforced as a pub’s last call.

Bourbon is a patriotic tipple that can only be birthed on American soil, while whiskey is a worldly beverage that can be fashioned in locations as diverse as Brooklyn and Scotland.

However, Congress granted bourbon the lofty title of “America’s Native Spirit” back in 1964, demanding that it be distilled exclusively within the United States. Though technically bourbon can be produced anywhere in the country, let’s face it – Kentucky reigns supreme as the bourbon capital, churning out a staggering 95 percent of the world’s bourbon supply.

Three whiskey servings on the rocks and a bottle of Jameson Irish Whiskey

Flavour Profiles: Taste Difference Between Bourbon and Whiskey

    • Irish whiskey is the smooth operator of the whiskey world, known for its distinctively mellow flavour. Jameson, as a blended Irish whiskey, embodies this velvety smoothness. It’s an effortlessly approachable spirit that can be enjoyed neat or mixed with other beverages.
    • While bourbon certainly has its appeal, it fails to match the subtle flavour profiles that elevate Irish whiskey to a true connoisseur’s choice.
    • Bourbon is the sweet talker of the whiskey world, charming its way into our taste buds with a delightful blend of vanilla, oak and caramel spice notes.

The Classic Cocktails Associated with Both Spirits

Old-Fashioned cocktails made with Jameson Black Barrel

Both Irish whiskey and bourbon have been noted for mixing well with other ingredients making them the perfect ingredient for classic cocktails.

Classic Bourbon Cocktails

  1. Manhattan: a classic cocktail that’s been in the limelight for a while. Legend has it that it originated in the 1880s at the Manhattan Club. Mixing bourbon, vermouth, and bitters in a glass with ice, then stirring until perfectly blended – this drink has been doing it right for over a century.
  2. Mint Julep: This refreshing cocktail is a Southern staple, beloved by horse racing enthusiasts and cocktail connoisseurs alike. To whip one up, simply mix some bourbon, fresh mint, and simple syrup in a shaker with ice.
  3. Brown Derby: Is named after the legendary old Hollywood restaurant and it’s a true classic. To whip one up, just mix some bourbon, grapefruit juice, and honey syrup in a shaker with some ice.

Irish Whiskey Cocktails

  1. Whiskey Sour: This a beloved cocktail that has stood the test of time. It’s made with three essential ingredients: sweet, sour and whiskey. Making this classic drink is a breeze with our simple Jameson Whiskey Sour recipe.
  2. Old Fashioned: Crowned the world’s number-one cocktail. For an extra touch of sophistication, try making it with Jameson Black Barrel. Just follow these steps to whip up a delicious drink that will have everyone asking for your secret Classic Old Fashioned Recipe.
  3. Irish Mule: Irish Whiskey, ginger and lime have a long-standing love affair, and they come together once again in this delicious whiskey-based drink. Follow our Jameson Irish Mule Recipe to recreate this delicious drink.

Can you spot the difference? Try our Jameson Irish Whiskey to put your tastebuds to the test.