With St. Patrick’s Day ahead of us and Irish Whiskey Funnel Cake above us (↑), I’ve been thinking about the different types of liquors; more specifically the different types of whiskys. Did you know that scotch and bourbon are also derivative of whisky? Really the main difference between Whisky, Irish Whiskey, Scotch and Bourbon are sweet and simple.
Whiskey can be defined as any alcoholic beverage that is distilled from fermented grain mash.
It ranges in variation according to how it has been distilled, aged, and where this process occurred. This determines the variation of whisky, i.e. is whisky, bourbon or scotch.
The most notable aspect of whisky is the taste. Whisky is smokey, rich, and spicy, but it can also contain floral notes and sweet tones. It all depends on the type and brand of whisky.
Irish whiskey (note whiskey with an “e”) is certainly the easiest to explain. In short, Irish whiskey is any variation of whiskey produced in the Republic of Ireland or in Northern Ireland.
That’s a trait each of these whisky variants will possess. It’s all about location.
In addition to decent, it’s made from yeast-fermented grain mash, distilled at least three times, aged for at least three years in wooden casks, and must be less than 190 PROOF, or 94.8% alcohol.
Irish whisky is very smooth, has a floral scent, and contains a nutty accent. It’s perfect on the rocks, but can also be made into an Irish Mule. Simply delicious!
Since Irish Whiskey is made in Ireland and it’s all about location, location, location, so it’s certainly no surprise that Scotch comes from Scotland.
It’s also made from malted barley, aged in oak casks for a minimum of three years, is less than 190 proof, and is distilled at least two times. Surprisingly, it can be distilled up to twenty times and still be called scotch.
One of the biggest aspects of scotch is if it’s a single or blended scotch. Single means it’s the product of a single malted barley distillery. Single malt brands are the most expensive and the most complex. They are often aged up to ten years. The older, the better (and pricier). The strong presence of sweet notes, like honey and clove, make this the perfect liquor to drink straight up. It would definitely be a “faux pas” to mix anything with a single malt scotch. It’s brilliant as is!
Blended scotches (blend of malt barley and grain whiskies) are the most popular and the most affordable. It’s often the base of many delicious cocktails.
Bourbon (whiskey) is certainly prepared/composed differently than its predecessors.
As opposed to being distilled from 100% grain, Bourbon is made from a grain mixture, which is at least 51% corn. This gives Bourbon it’s sweet flavor that you don’t get with whisky, Irish whiskey or scotch.
It’s also aged in new charred oak barrels (adding a caramelized flavor and darker hue), distilled to no more than 160 proof (80% alcohol) and does NOT need to be aged, but is most often aged at least two years so it can qualify as “straight bourbon.”
Like all of the whisky variations, Bourbon is native to one land, the United States. As a US native, when I think Bourbon I think of a classic old-fashioned.
Regardless of what variation you enjoy, nothing beats the smokey, rich, and spicy sip of Whiskey!