There seems to be some debate over which whiskey is better and whether your preference is for bourbon or scotch — both are legally classified as whiskeys. It’s the differences in tradition and distilling that makes the final call between these two battling spirits.
Bourbon is spelled “whiskey,” meaning that it’s distilled in America or Ireland. Scotch is spelled “whisky” and is from Scotland, Canada and Japan. The spelling is as simple as maintaining a certain level of authenticity and tradition.
Bourbon whiskey may be distilled from corn, rye or barley grains or a two-thirds corn and other grain mixture and aged in new charred oak barrels for at least two years. By law, the barrels cannot be reused and are discarded or reused by scotch producers. Bourbon is then bottled at no more than 80-percent alcohol by volume (160 proof). Scotch whisky is made from whole barley and water and aged in oak casks for no less than three years. Scotch is then bottled at no less than 40-percent alcohol by volume (80 proof).
Bourbon tends to be sweeter because of the corn grains, though bourbons distilled with rye grains can be dry and not as sweet. Scotch takes on a smokey flavor from the peat-smoked oak casks during distillation. Scotches from the Speyside region have a lighter flavor.
References and Resources"COED Magazine": Spirit Showdown: Scotch vs Bourbon
The Straight Dope: What's the Difference between Bourbon and Whiskey?