All Bourbon is Whiskey—But Not All Whiskey Is Bourbon. What’s the Difference?

All Bourbon is Whiskey—But Not All Whiskey Is Bourbon. What’s the Difference?

Bourbon and whiskey are pretty similar drinks, right? Well, not exactly. While all bourbon is a type of whiskey, not all whiskey is a bourbon. Simply put, bourbon is a type of whiskey and while you may think you are drinking the same thing, there are some pretty notable differences in the two.

Let’s dissect the subtle differences between a standard whiskey and bourbon, so that you know exactly what you are drinking next time you make that craft cocktail order.

Let’s start with whiskey.

Whiskey is distilled from a fermented blend of grains, typically wheat, rye, corn and barley. Distillers call this a “mash bill.” The type of whiskey depends on the ratio of these grains.

Bourbon is one of these distinct types of whiskeys.

So, what does a whiskey need to do in order to become a bourbon?

First of all, legally to use the name, it needs to be made of at least 51 percent corn. The rest of the bill mash can make it an even more specific type of bourbon (such as a wheat bourbon or a rye bourbon). The mash also needs to be 125 proof or less.

Bourbon must also be made in the United States. Most of the bourbon available today comes from Kentucky or an area known as “Bourbon County.” When a whiskey meets all of these criteria, then it can officially tout the name “bourbon.”

Put Your Skills to Use at Clique Bar and Lounge!

Think you have your bourbon and whiskey knowledge down? Well then, it is time to put your new skills to the test down here at Clique Bar & Lounge and determine if you can tell the difference between our bourbon drinks and whiskey drinks. In fact, we have many whiskey and bourbon options available on our menu for you to try.


Ready for the sweet finish of quality bourbon? We recommend Blackbeard’s Delight (pictured above)! Made with one of our favorite bourbons, Bulleit, along with blackberry, lemon, mint and Ginger Beer. This is a fresh and delicious summer cocktail recipe that is perfect for bourbon lovers.

Interested in a different type of whiskey? Why not try one of our tableside mixology drinks. Made with ginger-infused Bulleit Rye, ginger syrup, honey syrup, lemon and ginger foam—we love the flavor of this rye whiskey drink. It also includes a spritz of Lagavulin 16 Year, and a bit of candied ginger. Of course, we not only love the flavor of this cocktail, but the presentation as well, as it is made for you by one of our expert mixologists, right on the side of your table.

Armed with your knowledge on whiskey and bourbon you can now really take a new appreciation for our delicious drink menu and all of the spirits we use to create our cocktails. Make your reservations now!