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How Much Sugar Is in Bourbon? Explained (2022 Updated)

Last Updated on November 7, 2022 by Lydia Martin

Bourbon has a remarkable sweetness in its flavor profile, but many nutrition trackers claim that bourbon has zero sugar content. 

Is it true that bourbon does not contain sugar? For the record, bourbon contains sugar. 

But how much sugar is in bourbon? Let’s find out.  

How Much Sugar Does Bourbon Have? 

whisky glass with cigar and ice

Bourbon contains 0.1 grams of sugar per 100ml; if you drink a shot of bourbon, that is roughly 0.044 grams. 

But while bourbon contains sugar, it is significantly low compared to other alcoholic beverages.  

Bourbon is sweet because corn is its predominating grain [1], and while it is distilled, there are sugar residues after the aging process in newly charred oak barrels. 

Fortunately, while it contains sugar, with moderate drinking, it is safe to be consumed by people with diabetes or those in a keto and low-carb lifestyle. 

Why It Has (Almost) No Sugar 

Bourbon has almost no sugar due to the distillation process.

When the fermented mash bill undergoes distillation, the mixture undergoes boiling point. 

The distillation process will remove the excess sugar and wort from the bourbon whiskey.

Do Flavored Bourbons Have Sugar? 

bartender pouring whisky on the glass

Unfortunately, yes, flavored bourbons have sugar.

Generally, bourbon should not contain flavorings and colorings; however, few distilleries infuse flavors in their bourbons. 

For instance, honey bourbon is a bourbon whiskey infused with real honey and contains sugar.

An ounce of honey bourbon may contain at least 11.2 grams of sugar per ounce. 

How Is It Made?

The mash bill of bourbon should contain at least 51% corn; the remaining grains can be wheat, rye, or malted barley. 

After it is fermented, it is distilled, usually twice, to purify the liquid.

The mixture is heated, and the vapor is collected and condenses into the liquid with the sugars removed. 

After the distillation process, it undergoes an aging process in newly charred oak barrels.

As bourbon ages, it will absorb the flavor of the wood and the sugar the wood contains. 

The barrels will experience different temperatures, and when it reaches a very high temperature, the sugars in the wood will caramelize; that is where the sugar content comes from. 

Why Do Some Bourbons Taste Sweet? 

old man drinking whisky

Some bourbons taste sweet because of the distilled spirit’s predominant grain and the aging process. 

Ethanol is partly sweet because of the mash bill it came from, but the primary reason is due to the aging process. 

“Older bourbon leads to heavy caramel, vanilla, and sweetness…” – Brendan Coyle, High West’s Master Distiller. 

When the bourbon is stored in barrels for a long period, it absorbs the flavor and sweetness it contains.

It releases flavors of vanilla and caramel that are present in most bourbons. 

FAQs 

Does bourbon turn into sugar?

No, bourbon does not turn into sugar. Alcohol is broken down in a fairly complex process, usually in the liver.

It results in water, carbon dioxide, and energy through adenosine triphosphate. 

Which has more sugar, bourbon or whiskey?

Bourbon and whiskey have almost similar sugar content; however, it can be different when the distilled spirit is infused with flavors. 

Is bourbon okay for diabetics?

Yes, bourbon is okay for diabetics. While it contains sugar content, opposite to what we know, it is not enough to raise blood sugar. 

However, you must practice moderate drinking because while it contains low sugar, it is high in calories. 

Key Takeaways

Bourbon contains 0.1 grams of sugar per 100 ml or 0.75 grams per 750 ml bottle.  

The sugar it contains comes from the aging process wherein the bourbon absorbs the flavors and sugars of the charred barrels that are caramelized due to extreme temperature. 

While it contains sugar, it is safe to consume by diabetics and people who are into low-carb and keto lifestyles. 

Reference:

  1. https://www.cnbc.com/2015/06/04/5-rules-that-make-it-bourbon.html 

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