Tennessee Whiskey is a specific type of whiskey which must meet a rigid set of requirements to be called such. While Bourbon and Tennessee Whiskey are similar, there is a difference.

Here we review what makes the spirit unique and answer a few common questions.

What is Tennessee Whiskey Made From?

Tennessee Whiskey is made from a mash consisting of at least 51% corn and filtered through maple charcoal. Then, it is barreled in charred new oak barrels. The flavor profile depends on the filtering process used by each distiller. 

What is the Difference Between Tennessee Whiskey and Bourbon?

Initially, based upon how Tennessee Whiskey and Bourbon are made, they are the same. The requirements state that both must be distilled from at least 51% corn and aged in charred new oak barrels. 

However, the difference lies in the filtering process. The filtering requirement, known as the Lincoln County Process, states that Tennessee whiskey must go through a maple charcoal filtering process prior to barreling. The process takes away much of the bitter whiskey flavor leaving behind a smoother spirit. Is it smoother than Bourbon? We will let you be the judge of that. 

One last thing to note is that each producer of Tennessee Whiskey has their own filtering process which results in a variety of flavor profiles.

Tennessee Whiskey Requirements

In 2013, a state law was enacted that requires Tennessee Whiskey to meet the following:

  • Manufactured in TN
  • Filtered through maple charcoal prior to aging (Lincoln County Process)
  • Distilled from at least 51% corn
  • Distilled to no more than 160 proof (80% ABV)
  • Aged in new charred oak barrels
  • Placed in barrel at no more than 125 proof (62.5% ABV)
  • Bottled at no less than 80 proof (40% ABV)

As you can see by the requirements, Tennessee Whiskey also meets the standards put forth for Bourbon. However, Tennessee Whiskey enthusiasts believe it to be in a class all its own. 

Does Tennessee Whiskey Have to Be Made in Tennessee?

The answer: Yes.

Want to learn more about the different types of whiskey? Check out Whiskey Types Explained: Scotch vs Bourbon vs Whiskey.