Mountain lions and cougars. Pop or soda. whiskey and bourbon. There all the same things, right? As far as whiskey and bourbon, not at all.
Yes, all bourbon is whiskey, but not all whiskey is bourbon. Whiskey is distilled from fermented grain mash, like wheat, rye, and corn, and then aged in wooden barrels.
But bourbon has a much more strict set of guidelines. The myth was that it had to be made in Kentucky, but that’s technically not true. But to legally qualify as bourbon, it has to be made in the United States, it can only be aged in a brand new oak-charred barrel, and it has to enter the bottle at no less than 80 proof.
Why such strict rules? Because in the 1800s distillers spent a lot of time tampering with their whiskeys to cheat their customers. It took the US government and the “Bottled in Bond Act” of 1897 to make sure bourbon tastes as good as it does today.
And lastly, the most important question of all: When it comes to the difference between bourbon and whiskey, can you still make a Manhattan with either? As sure as the Brooklyn Bridge still stands, the answer is yes, you can.