TN vs KY – Bourbon, Whiskey, and Tennessee Whiskey

They say all bourbon is whiskey, but not all whiskey is bourbon. And all bourbons aren’t necessarily made in Kentucky, while Tennessee whiskeys are made in, you guessed it, Tennessee.

Let’s discuss:

Bourbon and whiskey are both popular spirits, but they have key differences. Whiskey, a broader category, can be made from various grains and aged in different barrels, resulting in a wide range of flavors.  Bourbon, mainly made in the US, is a type of whiskey made primarily from a mash bill of 51% corn and aged in new charred oak barrels, giving it a sweeter taste. Bourbon tends to be smoother with caramel and vanilla notes, while whiskey flavors vary widely. 

But where does Tennessee Whiskey fit in? Did you know Tennessee Whiskey is technically a bourbon? It’s true! 

The Similarities:

  • BOTH spirits are made with a mash bill of at least 51% corn
    • The remaining 49% may include other grains like rye, wheat, and barley.
  • They both must age in new charred oak barrels.
    • The charred new oak in which bourbon and Tennessee whiskey must age has compounds like vanillins, lactones, and tannins that help to give both spirits their characteristic caramelized color and flavor profile.
  • Neither spirit has a minimum aging requirement though they must be aged for at least two years to be labeled “straight” or at least four years to be labeled “bottled-in-bond.”
  • Both states had abundant corn, the main ingredient in bourbon. Their limestone water was ideal for whiskey. And the temperature swings from hot summers and chilly winters pushed aging whiskey into the wood of the barrel, where it took on flavor and color.

The Differences:

  • Tennessee whiskey can only be produced in Tennessee.
    • Upwards of 95% of bourbon is made in Kentucky, it can technically be produced anywhere in the United States.
  • Tennessee whiskey goes through an extra charcoal filtering process that is not required for bourbon.
    • It uses the Lincoln County Process, a technique for which the unaged whiskey must be steeped in or filtered through maple charcoal chips before it’s barreled.

The Brands:

Name brands of popular Tennessee whiskey:

Jack Daniel’s, George Dickel, Nearest Green and Prichard’s.

Name brands of popular Kentucky bourbon:

Jim Beam, Evan Williams, Four Roses, Maker’s Mark and Wild Turkey.

Did you know there are two different spellings… whiskey and whisky? Find out why by clicking here.

Tennessee whiskey and bourbon share many similarities, as both are types of whiskey made primarily from corn and aged in new charred oak barrels. However, Tennessee whiskey undergoes an additional step known as the Lincoln County Process, where the whiskey is filtered through charcoal before aging, imparting a smoother flavor profile. This process is not required for bourbon. 

Bill’s Package store carries a wide variety of both bourbons and whiskeys.

For more information about any of our spirits, ask one of our friendly and knowledgeable staff.At Bill’s Package Store, we offer superior quality, top-shelf brands of your favorite liquors and wine at the lowest prices in Clarksville, TN. Call (931) 647-5566 or visit us at 1651 Fort Campbell Blvd Clarksville, TN.

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