Scotch vs. Whiskey

Is there a difference between Scotch and Whiskey

Article from Thrillist

Get up out of your seat and look at yourself in the mirror. What do you see? An accomplished whiskey drinker who can tell the origins of a bottle by its color? Or an amateur who wouldn’t be able to differentiate the cheap stuff from a bottle of Yamakazi Sherry Cask Single Malt?

Preferences aside, everyone can stand to get educated when it comes to the brown stuff. If you don’t know your Kentucky bourbon from Japanese whisky, allow yourself to be immersed in this article before you immerse yourself in booze. Pro-tip: read this in Alec Baldwin’s voice for an aurally delightful time. Here we go.

What is whiskey?

Good question! Technically, it is a distilled alcoholic beverage made from fermented grain mash. This mash is typically aged in wooden casks, which gives it that distinct brown color and taste. Popular whiskey brands include Jack Daniel’s, Maker’s Mark, Glenmorangie, Bulleit, Johnnie Walker, and—every dad’s favorite—The Macallan.

What makes whiskey bourbon?

This one’s a doozy, but bear with us. For a whiskey to be considered bourbon, the mixture of grains from which the product is distilled (the mash) must be, at the least, 51 percent corn, rye, wheat, malted barley, or malted rye grain. On top of that, the mixture must be stored in charred oak containers and cannot contain any additives. That law pretty much separates bourbon from everything else.

Bourbon tastes like: Its main characteristic is its sweetness, but it’s also a bit smokey due to the charred oak.

Is Tennessee Whiskey just bourbon with a different name?

Glad you asked. First and foremost, the biggest difference between these two whiskeys is location. Tennessee whiskey is made in Tennessee and bourbon was invented by a man named Shelbyville Kentucky. Just kidding. What separates the two is a method of filtering called the Lincoln County Process in which the whiskey is filtered through, or steeped, in charcoal before going into the casks. The most famous Tennessee whiskey out there is Jack Daniel’s and they—alongside other Tennessee distillers—don’t refer to their product as bourbon. We love Jack. We love it lots. And we love bourbon. Yes, you can have it all.

Tennessee whiskey tastes like: Bourbon, if we’re being honest.

What is scotch?

Scotch is technically whisky (spelled without the “e”) that has been distilled and matured in Scotland. It is made mostly from malted barley—you’ll remember bourbon is made from corn. Popular scotch brands include: The Glenlivet, Glenmorangie, Laphroaig, and Johnnie Walker.

Scotch tastes like: Rubber, wood, fire, dirt, and leather—but in a good way.

What’s Canadian whisky?

Canadian whisky (also spelled sans “e”) is actually interchangeable with the term “rye whisky” in Canada. Canadian whisky, as compared to other whiskys, is typically lighter and smoother. Plus, Don Draper drinks it. It’s usually made with different grains, but corn is often most prevalent. For a while, rye was a popular addition, hence the name interchangeability in Canada.

Canadian tastes like: Really plain, smooth whisky.

What about rye?

Rye whiskey, like its name suggests, is a whiskey that is distilled from at least 51 percent rye. What is rye? Rye is a type of grass that is a member of the wheat tribe and closely related to barley. So much more than a clever name…or is it?

Rye tastes like: A spicy, grainy, hard-edged version of bourbon. Like bourbon’s maverick younger brother.

Let’s talk about Irish whiskey

Whereas most Scottish whiskey is distilled twice, Irish whiskey (with an E)  goes through three rounds of distillation before it’s bottled. Compared to the Scottish stuff, Irish whiskey uses a lot of barley and doesn’t have that smokey, burnt-rubber taste that you’ll find from the peat (which is essentially partially decayed vegetables) that’s in scotch. Fun fact: Legally, Irish must be aged in Ireland for at least three years in wooden casks to be considered whiskey!

Irish whiskey tastes like: Very, very smooth and less sweet than most American bourbons.

What is white whiskey? Is it just moonshine? What is moonshine?

The term “moonshine” is slang to describe quickly distilled un-aged corn mash and, according to the omnipotent Wikipedia, “is derived from the term ‘moonrakers‘ used for early English smugglers and the clandestine (i.e., by the light of the moon) nature of the operation.” So, technically, when you see whiskey labeled “moonshine” in stores, it’s really just white whiskey, because “moonshine” refers to illegal hooch made at home. This stuff is only white because it hasn’t seen the inside of a wooden cask.

White whiskey tastes like: Whiskey-flavored vodka.
Moonshine tastes like: Fire, because it’s often at some ridiculously high proof.

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