Llamas, Alpacas and Whiskey

Llama Whiskey

Last week we were all captivated by two escaped llamas running wild in the streets of Arizona. Instead of a white Bronco, helicopters were sending live shots of a white llama (and a black one, too). For a few hours we could laugh about it before we were all hijacked into determining what color a dress was. In the meantime someone posed the question as to whether those llamas were actually alpacas. Had we been duped? What is the difference between these two beasts of burden? (Llamas have long banana-shaped ears, alpacas have short spear-shaped ears. Llamas are also roughly twice as large). We also wondered why they had escaped. The number one theory was that they were on their way to California to find some Ravenswood Rye and Featherbone Bourbon.

It also got us thinking about a common question we hear from visitors at the distillery – what is the difference between bourbon and whiskey?¬†All bourbon is whiskey but not all whiskey is bourbon. Let’s breakdown the common designations of American whiskies.


Whiskey is essentially distilled beer. It’s any spirit made from a fermented grain mash, distilled to a low proof and usually aged in barrels. That means corn, wheat, rye, barley, oats and even quinoa are okay. Sugar, fruit, agave and honey are off limits.


Bourbon is whiskey made from a mash of at least 51% corn. Contrary to popular belief, it does not have to be made in Kentucky (last we check Three Oaks isn’t in Kentucky and we still produce bourbon). It simply must be made in the USA.

Corn Whiskey

Corn whiskey is whiskey made from a mash of at least 80% corn. It’s also what is typically called moonshine.


Rye is whiskey made from a mash of at least 51% rye.

Single Malt

Single malt is whiskey made by a single distillery from a mash that uses only one particular malted grain, most often malted barley.

Straight Whiskey

Straight whiskey is any whiskey that has been aged for at least two years.

Tennessee Whiskey

Simply bourbon that has been through charcoal filtration, known as the Lincoln County Process.

Wheat Whiskey

Wheat whiskey is whiskey made from a mash of at least 51% wheat.

White Whiskey

White whiskey is almost entirely unaged. It must spend some time in the barrel, which is a requirement of all American whiskies except corn whiskey. Oftentimes this is only a minute, long enough to have “been in the barrel” but not long enough to pick up any barrel characteristics.

Easy enough, right? Now back to rewatching those llamas.

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One Comment

  1. Posted June 15, 2015 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    Bourbon whiskey is USA famous aged whiskey. It’s mix with corn & rye. Thanks for sharing this beautiful blog. Really bourbon whiskey role is very important in USA. I like this.

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