Why White Dog Whiskey Is Not Classified As True Bourbon

Bourbon drinkers likely know what is required of a whiskey to be labeled as a bourbon whiskey. To be considered a true bourbon, a whiskey must meet certain requirements, including the use of at least 51% corn in production, aging in new charred oak barrels for a minimum of two years, and being bottled at no less than 80 proof (via Advanced Mixology).

Bourbon, therefore, is a type of whiskey that is regulated by the US government to ensure its authenticity and quality. The regulations also help to distinguish bourbon from other types of whiskey, such as rye, which must use at least 51% rye in production, or scotch, which must be produced in Scotland using malted barley, according to Advanced Mixology. There is, however, another type of whiskey you might not be as familiar with, and it's often referred to as white dog whiskey.

Despite its popularity among some drinkers, white dog whiskey is not considered to be true bourbon according to Angel's Envy. White dog whiskey, also known as "white lightning," is a clear spirit that is produced by distilling fermented grains such as corn, barley, or rye. Unlike other clear spirits, such as gin or vodka, white dog whiskey is not filtered to remove impurities or distilled multiple times to smooth out flavors. Instead, it is bottled straight from the still, giving it a raw, bold taste that is both distinct and unrefined.

And it's the aging process — or lack thereof — that sets white dog whiskey apart from true bourbon. 

This is what un-aged whiskey tastes like

White dog whiskey is typically bottled straight from the still, straight bourbon must be aged for at least two years in new charred oak barrels (via Time Out). The aging process not only gives bourbon its signature amber color, but it also contributes to its complex flavor profile. The charred oak barrels impart flavors of vanilla, caramel, and toasty oak, which complement the flavors of the grains used in production.

While many whiskey enthusiasts consider white dog whiskey to be a rough, unpolished spirit, others appreciate its unique flavor profile. The lack of filtration and multiple distillations allows the un-aged whiskey to retain the flavors of the grains used in production (via Angel's Envy). That produces a spirit that is both crisp and full of character. For example, a white dog whiskey made from corn will have a sweet, corn-forward flavor, while one made from rye will have a spicier, more complex taste.

Ultimately, white dog whiskey is a unique spirit that offers a bold and unrefined taste experience though it cannot be considered to be bourbon. Whether you prefer the smooth, refined flavors of bourbon or the raw, unapologetic taste of white dog whiskey, there's a whiskey out there for everyone. So, go ahead, try a sip of white dog whiskey and discover a new world of flavors.