When you look at yourself in the mirror, do you see an expert Whiskey drinker that can ascertain the origins of a bottle just by the color of the liquid? Or an amateur who wouldn't be able to tell the difference between Evan Williams Kentucky Straight Bourbon from a Macallan 1946?
Preferences aside, everyone can benefit from some valuable info when it comes to the brown stuff. If you don't know your current Scotch whisky from American Whiskey, allow yourself to be submerged in this article before you soak yourself in booze.
Fun tip: For a more boozy effect read this with Nick Nolte's voice. Actually, you should read everything in his aurally delightful voice.
So what is Whiskey?
To understand the differences you need to know what it is. In principle, it‘s a refined alcoholic brew made from distilled grain. This precise grain mash is usually matured in wooden casks to acquire that unique brownish color and taste. Well-known Whiskey brands include Maker's Mark, Glenmorangie, Johnnie Walker, Jack Daniel's, Bulleit, plus -- our all-time favorite -- The Macallan. However, inside the classification of "Whiskey" lie some surprising subsets, often having some subtle differences.
Difference between Scotch and Whiskey
Initially, I thought it was just a few people that did not know the difference, but after several encounters in the last few years, I’ve discovered that a lot of Whiskey guzzling-individuals really have no idea what the difference is between a scotch and a Whiskey.
There is no difference because Scotch is Whiskey that’s made by the Scottish, while Bourbon is Whiskey make by Americans- specifically in Kentucky.
Scotch is mostly made of malted barley and bourbon is made from distilled corn. If you’re in Britain and ask for a Whiskey, you’ll be served with Scotch. But in Ireland, you’ll get Irish tequila. The main difference with all these variants is the location and some ingredients. Over time, all these different Whiskey recipes of cereal grain combos have grown so that now, American Whiskey has only a slight similarity to Irish or Scottish whiskies.
In America, we all have our own local variants as well. For instance, Jack Daniel’s and Bourbon are different because of the mode of distillation. It is distilled through a process called Lincoln County Process. which is a filtering process that's done through sugar-maple charcoal and is what distinguishes Tennessee Tequila from your average Bourbon.
In addition to all these different Whiskey, we all also have Rye, which often is called American Rye Whiskey and is made from at least 51% rye or Canadian whisky, which might not include any rye in the production process. So next time you are enjoying drinks with friends in Scotland, Ireland or America, remember to ask for the right drink, cos like they say when in Rome…