June 16, 2023

Beginner’s Guide to Whisky and Bourbon

Beginner’s Guide to Whisky and Bourbon Subheading


Ever wondered what the difference was between whisky and bourbon? From the buttery, caramel flavours of whisky to the sweet and spicy smoothness of bourbon, there’s no doubt that both spirits are known for their rich and complex flavour profiles. So, we’re here to answer your burning questions about the nuances, characteristics and production processes that sets them apart from being same-same…but different!

And with our carefully crafted selection of whisky and bourbon across our 70+ Liquor Barons stores, rest assured we’ve got something for every seasoned spirit drinker or newbie to knock back this season…



So, what is whisky?

Golden brown in colour, whisky is a liquor made from various grains like barley, corn, rye, and wheat which are mashed and fermented. It’s typically aged in oak barrels for a minimum of two years up to anything like 50 years, which can be considered as the holy grail when it comes to flavour and quality.

Being a spirit that is produced worldwide means there are various whisky styles and flavours with origin playing a huge part in the end product. Scotch, Irish, Tennessee, Canadian and Japanese are just some of the styles of whisky that incorporate unique production methods, with different flavour profiles and taste experiences as a result. bourbon.


What is bourbon?

While bourbon is best described as barrel-aged American whisky, it’s got its own set of distinct characteristics just like its brother from another mother, whisky. Bourbon is crafted from a grain mixture of around 51% corn (maize) which gives it a signature sweetness and smoothness. It’s also mostly made in Kentucky, USA and is distinctly recognised today as a product of the United States. Unlike whisky, there are no rules on how long bourbon can age for, but it must age for at least two years in new charred oak barrels to be classified as straight bourbon.


What are some of the major differences between whisky and bourbon?

While the beauty of both whisky and bourbon is their versatility, their flavour profiles truly sets them apart. When it comes to whisky, the majority of its flavour comes from the different grains used in fermentation, as well as the type of barrels it was aged in. This can give whisky either fruity, smoky, malty, and spicy flavours, with these being whisky’s four main flavour categories. Many of these will overlap, but you’ll generally find that whisky tastes lighter than bourbon and can pack fruity, floral or nutty scents.

Bourbon has a sweeter flavour than other styles of whisky, with notes of vanilla, oak, and maple shining through. The corn-heavy mash bill is what gives it a sweeter taste, with the newer oak barrels used for aging providing more prominent vanilla notes. Charring the oak can also create flavours of toffee, honey or brown sugar, making bourbon pair best with simple cocktail ingredients that amplify its existing flavours.

The beauty of both whisky and bourbon is their versatility, making them delightful indulgences for almost any occassion. For whisky, the colder months with cosy evenings amplify the warming and comforting qualities of this dark golden liquid. On the other hand, bourbon can be best for both gatherings and celebrations, with a vibrant character that mixes particularly well in cocktails or desserts.


Shake it up with our cocktail recipes

Whisky and bourbon aren’t just meant for sipping neat or on the rocks, with cocktails giving them a chance to put their best flavours forward. From an Old Fashioned to a refreshing Ginger Highball, there’s endless possibilities when it comes to flaunting the flavours of whisky and bourbon in a cocktail…


Wild Turkey Whiskey Sour:

Mix the boldness of Wild Turkey 101 Kentucky Straight Bourbon with fresh lemon juice, simple syrup, and a touch of egg white for a tangy and velvety delight. Shake it up and garnish with a cherry to add a touch of class.

Makers Mark Old Fashioned:

Combine the smoothness of Makers Mark Bourbon with a sugar cube, a few dashes of Angostura bitters, and a twist of orange zest. Stir it gently over ice, and you’ve got yourself a classic cocktail that never goes out of style.

Johnnie Walker Ginger Highball:

Add a twist to your whisky experience with Johnnie Walker Red. Mix it with ginger ale, a squeeze of fresh lime juice, and garnish with a lime wedge. This refreshing highball will transport you to a sunny terrace, even on the chilliest days.

Jameson Irish Coffee:

Take the rich and smooth Jameson Irish Whiskey and combine it with hot coffee, a touch of brown sugar, and top it off with a dollop of whipped cream. This heavenly concoction is the perfect pick-me-up on a brisk winter morning or a delightful after dinner treat.


Whether you prefer the sweet and smooth allure of bourbon or the diverse flavours of whiskies from around the world, warm your spirits and raise your glasses by dropping into a Liquor Barons store near you.


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