Bourbon Basics

Whisky spelled with or without an “e” is simply a generic term that describes any spirit distilled from a base of grain. In English, they are pronounced the same way regardless of the spelling. Traditionally, distillers in Scotland spell it “whisky” and distillers in Ireland and the United States spell it “whiskey.” In the United States, both spellings are used, but the spelling “whiskey” is more common.

Two Worlds Whiskey chooses to spell it “whiskey” not only because that is the most common spelling in American English, but also to differentiate it from the common French conception that the term “whisky” with no “e” is used to describe whisky distilled from 100 percent barley, also known as malt whisky.

Yes! All bourbon is whiskey, but not all whiskey is bourbon. Bourbon is equivalent to an appellation of origin. It’s a word that is used to describe a specific style of whiskey.

Bourbon whiskey is a spirit distilled from grain, of which at least 51% is corn and typically also includes rye or wheat, and malted barley. Bourbon must be aged in new, charred oak containers. Bourbon can only be produced in the United States.

If a bourbon label says that it is “straight bourbon whiskey,” that means that it adheres to a strict list of requirements to earn that appellation including:

  • It must be aged in the barrel at minimum for two years, but if it is less than four years old, the age must be stated on the label. (Four years is the industry standard for bourbon.)
  • It has been distilled in the United States from a mashbill (the “recipe” of grains used to create the whiskey) containing no less than 51% corn.
  • It must be distilled at no higher than 80% alc./vol off the still
  • It must enter the barrel at no higher than 62.5% alc./vol
  • It has been aged in new, charred oak barrels.
  • It contains no additives whatsoever besides water to reduce the proof. That means no artificial coloring or flavoring, and of course, NO CARAMEL.

There is no regulation over the term “small batch,” but when big brands use it, it typically means they used 300 barrels or fewer to batch their bourbon. In the case of Two Worlds Whiskey, La Victoire, Batch 1, only 11 barrels were used to batch our bourbon, giving us maximum control over the profile and quality of our bourbon.

No! Bourbon by law must be made in the United States, but it can be made in any state. While Kentucky is the undisputed spiritual home of bourbon, producing 95% of the world’s supply of bourbon, there are excellent bourbons being made in Kentucky’s neighbor states, Tennessee and Indiana, as well as in craft distilleries all across the nation.

However you like! Personally, I prefer to enjoy Two Worlds Whiskey neat at the end of a great meal shared with friends and loved ones. Bourbon is meant to be shared! You can also add just a drop or two of water to really open up this barrel-strength spirit. But at the end of the day, all that matters is that you enjoy it! Cheers!

Learn more about the French origins of bourbon whiskey