What’s the difference between barrel age Kentucky, Tennessee and Canadian Whiskey? This is a question that we often hear. Here is an interesting experiment. Collect three men who love whiskey. One must be partial to Kentucky bourbon, another to Tennessee whiskey and the last must love blended Canadian whiskey. Throw them in a room with a fine bottle of each liquor and make a video recording of the night. Their disagreement about which whiskey reigns supreme will slowly gain steam as the night goes on and the whiskey is drank. It would be fun to watch, but one thing will become clear – people love their particular type of whiskey. The differences must be explored to understand which one you like the best.
All three of the liquors are whiskey and whiskey is defined as a fermented mash of grain that is aged in oak barrels. This grain can be rye, corn, barley or wheat. Whiskey has a pretty loose definition, so the separate types narrow the scope.
Kentucky whiskey is commonly known as bourbon whiskey. Kentucky whiskeys need to be made of a mash that contains at least 51% corn. Corn is a sweeter grain and this adds to the flavor of this liquor. The vast majority of bourbons are aged for at least four years in new oak barrels. New barrels will age the liquor faster and impart earthy flavors into this smooth liquor.
Tennessee whiskey is recognized by United States law as a separate type of alcohol. Tennessee whiskeys are required to be a straight bourbon type of whiskey, but this liquor is not commonly referred to as bourbon. The final stage of making Tennessee whiskey involves filtering the liquor through a maple charcoal filter to give the whiskey a slightly sweeter taste. The liquor is then aged in new oak barrels.
Canadian whiskey has much less regulation and is often a blended style of whiskey. This means that multiple mashes are made out of a variety of grains and then blended to create the final product. Canadian whiskeys are often a lot lighter than American whiskeys and are very smooth. Often times, Canadian whiskey makers will add a high amount of flavorful rye grain to the mash. These liquors are often referred to as rye whiskeys, but that term can be used interchangeably with the term Canadian whiskey.
Whiskey lovers have their favorites and knowing how the liquor is made can actually impact how the taste is perceived. Now that you know the differences you can make an educated decision on which one you find to be the best.