Difference Between Scotch And Whiskey

Single Malt Vs Blended Whisky

The real difference between scotch, whiskey, and bourbon

Writing for the BBC, travel Brad Cohen explains the difference between blended and single-malt whisky:

Blended whisky, which comprises more than 80% of the market, including brands like Johnnie Walker and Dewars, is a mix oÂf malt and grain whiskies that come from multiple distilleries. Single malt, which Scottish drinkers often refer to as malt rather than whisky .

Are All Whiskeys Bourbon Or Scotch

There is a lot of confusion about whether all whiskeys are bourbon or scotch. The answer is that all whiskeys are not necessarily bourbon or scotch. There are many different types of whiskeys, and each has its own unique flavor.

Fermented grain mash is used to make whisky, an alcoholic beverage. Aged in charred oak, it has a distinct brown color. While whisky can be spelled both ways, it is difficult for even the most experienced drinkers to pronounce correctly. The process of making whiskey in Scotland is very laborious. Spirits are aged in oak barrels for at least three years before being released to the public. The potency, history, and tradition of Scotch make it a favorite of many. A neat whiskey is ideal for sipping after dinner.

Bourbon, according to federal standards governing the identity of bourbon, is a distinctive product of the United States. Bourbon is only available in water. Bourbons have a sweet, vanilla-y flavor because they are made from large quantities of corn.

Understanding what a Tennessee Whiskey and a Jim Beam are in addition to understanding the differences between them is critical. Tennessee Whiskey is made in Tennessee, has a higher proof, and is aged for at least two years in oak barrels. In contrast, a Jim Beam, which is made in Kentucky and has a lower proof, is not aged in oak barrels, and can be labeled as a bourbon, rye, or scotch.

What Is Difference Between Scotch Whiskey And Bourbon

The main difference between scotch whiskey and bourbon is that scotch is made in Scotland while bourbon is made in the United States. Both are made from grain, but scotch whiskey must be made from malted barley while bourbon can be made from any type of grain. Scotch is also generally made with peat-smoked barley, which gives it a characteristic smoky flavor. Bourbon, on the other hand, is made with new, charred oak barrels, which gives it a sweeter flavor.

Bourbon, as defined by the Federal Standards of Identity for Bourbon, is defined as either whiskey or a liqueur. The mash, a mixture of grains used to make the distilled product, must contain at least 51% corn. Distillation must be distilled to 160 proof or less, aged in new charred oak barrels, and then aged in those barrels for at least five years. Malted barley is used to make Scotch, but corn is used to make bourbon. Tennessee Whiskey is distilled and filtered after it has been filtered through charcoal made from sugar maple syrup. The two terms are used to refer to different types of American whiskey, namely American rye whiskey and Canadian rye whiskey, which must be distilled from 51 percent rye or Canadian whisky.

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How Are They Similar

One of the similarities of the whiskies is their use of oak casks, where the maturation and the aging process happen. Scotch Whiskey and Irish Whiskey may use Bourbon casks that produce a sweeter flavor or Sherry casks that gives fruity and spice notes to enhance the taste and mix the blends well.

The two Whiskeys can be in the same style. Depending on your taste buds, you can buy and drink Irish and Scotch Whiskey as single malted or blended. But, whats the difference between Bourbon and Irish Whiskey?

Differences Between Scotch Whiskey And Bourbon


Karen is a wine, cocktails, and food enthusiast. She holds a California Wine Appellation Specialist certificate from the San Francisco wine school and a Bar Smarts mixology certificate and bartends for charitable events.

Learn about our Editorial Policy.

When considering spirits, some people struggle to understand the difference between whiskey, bourbon, and scotch. While there are basic similarities in scotch, bourbon, and whiskey, each has characteristics and manufacturing practices that make them unique.

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A Short History Of Bourbon

Bourbon is one of the more strictly regulated spirits in the worldwith a distinct and narrow definition of what can and cant be called by the term, but that wasnt always the case.

When it first made appearances in the 1800s, it was subject to frequent dilution, tampering, and other adulterations. This prompted the Bottled In Bond act of 1897 that governed the very first regulation of bourbon in the U.S.

Despite this attempt, bourbon remained very much a maligned and poor-quality spirit through the early and mid 20th century, that was until the pioneering work of Bill Samuels, who developed his famous recipe that would change bourbon forever as part of the heralded Makers Mark brand.

This recipe can still be seen in the regulations which govern bourbon to this day, and state that any drink described as bourbon must be:

  • Produced in the United States
  • Made from a mixture of grains, at least 51% of which must be corn
  • Aged in virgin charred oak containers
  • Distilled to no more than 160 proof/80% abv
  • Entered for aging at no more than 125 proof/62.5% abv
  • Bottled at a minimum of 80 proof/40% abv

Its from these regulations that we get the flavors and aromas that we come to think of as distinctively bourbon, and where we begin to see a number of breaks with some of the most recognized and popular types of whiskey that can be found, so lets dive into these elements and see exactly what separates bourbon from other styles of whiskey.

The Difference Between Scotch And Other Kinds Of Whiskey

When presented with a drinks menu at a good bar, it can be daunting looking at a whole page of whiskey and scotch. We have you covered.

An on-the-rocks ritual undeniably the best way to enjoy an amber calls for quality whiskey. And the most recommended option by connoisseurs is often one that comes straight from distilleries in Scotland. However, if youve never been able to tell your malts apart, heres our guide to the differences between the ever-popular Scotch and other types of whiskey.

The world of malts with its dizzyingly large array of blends and ageing specifications can get confusing to wholly grasp. Besides, with India being the largest consumer of whisky, about 13 of the worlds 25 best-selling bottles are just a liquor store visit away. While there, a quick glimpse at the aisles will reveal several top-shelf options, many with the word Scotch plastered across the labels.

Heavy on the wallet, smooth on the palate this amber stands out amidst the sea of bourbons and ryes. Its also hailed as one of the most iconic types of whisky and a hallmark of Scottish tradition and craftsmanship. This leads to the million-dollar question should you switch out your usual malt with a Scotch for your daily dram? Heres a quick guide that has the amber go head-to-head with other whiskies available in the market at the moment.

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Johnnie Walker Ghost & Rare Port Ellen Whisky

Johnnie Walker Ghost & Rare Port Ellen Whisky is a very specially crafted bourbon whiskey that uses iconic flavors and signature notes from the ghost distilleries in order to provide a smooth and premium tasting drink.

Johnnie Walker Ghost & Rare Port Ellen Whisky uses very precious casks that are exclusive to the ghost distilleries which give the bourbon an added volume and overall bold taste that you wont find in many other bourbon whiskey options available on the market.

Johnnie Walker Ghost & Rare Port Ellen Whisky uses a variety of carefully selected liquid formulas that provide a very refreshing yet deep and robust flavor profile to the bourbon overall.

Johnnie Walker Ghost & Rare Port Ellen Whisky uses very exclusive malts and grains in order to create the perfectly blended bourbon option that many people all around the world love to consume.

Choose Bourbon Whiskey If:

Difference between Whiskey, Scotch & Bourbon
  • You want sweeter and mellow notes in your drink.
  • You want to save money on a whiskey bottle.

Scotch vs whiskey vs bourbon is quite hard to differentiate at first. However, once you get right into the drinks nitty-gritty, youll be able to identify them from each other.

Let us know in the comment section which characteristic of scotch and bourbon is a dead giveaway for you.

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The Real Difference Between Whiskey Bourbon Scotch And Rye

Editor in Chief for the Reserve blog

Ever wondered what the difference is between all those dark liquors? If you think they’re all the same, think again. Whiskeys come in many forms, and we’re here to help you distinguish between the three main types plus show you a few cocktails to remember them by!

From craft cocktails to giant whiskey lists, dark spirits have been cropping up on more and more menus across the country. Check out what makes each unique, and the next time you’re navigating the drink selection you’ll be well equipped to order the tasty spirit you really want.

Who should we thank for the different spellings of this popular spirit? Geography. “Whiskey” is produced stateside, while many other countries call their product “whisky.” However you choose to spell it, this distilled alcoholic beverage is made from fermented grain mash and typically aged in charred white oak casks, giving it its distinctive brown color. Whiskey is a broad category of liquor and can have lots of differences in color, taste and smell.

Washington D.C.’s The Pig, with over 70 choices on its menu, celebrates differing shades and nuanced flavors across a variety of whiskeys — some perfect for sipping solo and others ideal for incorporating into a mixed drink.

If you’re looking for a classic whiskey-based cocktail, the Boulevardier combines a good dose of whiskey with equal parts Campari and sweet vermouth :

Scotch.Rob Roy.Bourbon.Rye.

What Does Whiskey Taste Like

Now that weve broken down some of the technical differences between scotch and other whiskeys, youre probably wondering what Scotch tastes like compared to other versions of the spirit. First, lets start with what whiskeys tend to taste like across the board.

As mentioned, most whiskey tends to be aged in oak barrels, which contributes to a classic flavor profile found across many different variations. The aging process imbues the spirit with flavor notes like caramel, vanilla, toasted almond, coconut, maple syrup and spice.

Heres a general idea of how some of the most popular whiskeys taste:

  • Bourbon. Bourbon whiskey is sweeter than most whiskies. Bourbon usually has notes of vanilla, oak, and caramel.
  • Rye. Rye whiskey is usually less sweet and may even taste herbal and spicy.
  • Irish whiskey. Irish whiskey is light and fruity compared to other whiskeys. It often has floral notes and vanilla flavors. Irish whiskey is known for its smooth finish.

Where the oak barrel the whiskey is aged in comes from can impact how the whiskey will taste. American oak gives the whiskey a sweet and spicy flavor, with coconut, caramel, vanilla, cinnamon and brown sugar hints. European oak usually makes for a drier whiskey, with flavors such as roasted almonds and nutmeg or toffee.

Whether a barrels interior is charred, toasted, or both also plays a part. For example, charred oak barrels can contribute roasted or smoky flavors. A toasted barrel usually brings out the sweetness in a whiskey.

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The Fermentation Process Of Scotch And Bourbon

When you decide to buy a bottle of either scotch or bourbon, you can be 100% positive that youre getting the highest quality alcoholic beverage thanks to the production regulations implemented across the US.

For the alcoholic beverage to be labeled as scotch, the main ingredient of the fermentation process has to be malted barley. Whats more, ingredients such as water and yeast are commonly used when making scotch. Its not uncommon for the manufacturers to opt for whole cereal grains in order to further adjust the flavor and color of the drink.

Scotch whiskey ingredients:

  • Whole cereal grain

In the case of bourbon, the fermentation process has to use a grain mix that contains 51% of corn at least. Manufacturers often use a mix of wheat, barley, and rye in order to create the ideal bourbon brew.

Bourbon whiskey ingredients:

Can Bourbon Be Made Outside Of America

Bourbon Vs. Scotch: Lets Understand the Difference?

No. The federal standards governing the identity of bourbon dictate that it is a distinctive product of the United States and that the word bourbon shall not be used to describe any whisky or whisky-based distilled spirits not produced in the United States.According to Swati Sharma, Co-Founder, The Dram Club, sweetness is what marks bourbon from the other varieties of whisky. Since bourbons are made of copious amount of corn they have a delightful sweetness with pronounced notes of vanilla that cant be found in most barley and rye-based whiskies, she clarifies. They also tend to be a bit smoky due to the charred oak. But it takes years of practice of nosing and tasting even for experts to tell the difference between the vast styles of whiskies. The best way to keep getting better at it is to try a mix of both Bourbon and Scotch/other styles and make notes of the difference you can perceive in the nose and on the palate.

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Defining Characteristics Of Scotch And Irish Whiskey

There are a handful of key rules that all distillers must abide by to be granted the protected titles of either Scotch or Irish whiskey.

It wont come as a surprise that by law, Scotch whisky must be distilled and matured in Scotland. Furthermore, the maturation process must take place in oak casks for at least three years and the whisky bottled at a minimum strength of 40% ABV.

Irish whiskey has nearly the same requirements but of course must be produced on the island of Ireland and can be distilled on either side of the border. The notable exception is that Irish whiskey can be matured in wooden casks other than oak. This can seriously influence the flavor profile, but the majority opt for oak due to its hard-wearing and porous nature.

Not so much a rule, more a tradition, Irish whiskey tends to be triple distilled, giving it what some consider a smoother, more accessible taste than its Scottish counterpart, which is generally distilled twice. There are exceptions, however, with Lowland Scotch brand Auchentoshan producing triple-distilled whisky and Irish single malt The Tyrconnell distilled just twice.

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Taste Flavors & Aromas

Irish Whiskey has a light and fruity flavor profile. An Irish blended whisky has 90% of all Irish Whiskey category production. The grain whisky one is light and from corn, wheat, and grains produced through column stills than the Irish pot still Whiskey of Irish culture. Learn which Irish whiskeys are better drunk straight here.

On the other hand, a single malt Scotch usually has a smoky flavor, but it could be fruity and nutty as well.

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They Come From Different Places

Contrary to popular belief, bourbon can be made outside of Kentucky. However, to legally qualify as bourbon, it must be made in the United States. Simlarly, in order for a whisky to be called Scotch, it must be made in Scotland. Japanese whisky, for example, is similar to Scotch in many ways. But its not Scotch, because its made in Japan.

Legally Heres The Difference

Scotch VS Whiskey – What’s The Difference Between Scotch and Whiskey

Scotch whisky has a long, proud heritage that likely stretches back long before its first recorded reference in 1495. Is it the oldest type of whisky on the planet? We will probably never know, but we can tell you exactly what it takes for a whisky to be legally considered Scotch. But before that lets take a moment to review bourbon.

Youll probably remember that bourbon has to be produced in the United States from a grain mixture thats at least 51% corn, and must be aged in new, charred oak barrels. It can be distilled to no more than 160 proof, and it has to enter into the barrel for aging at no more than 125 proof. When its bottled, the spirit has to be at least 80 proof. Also, bourbon cant contain any added flavors or coloring. But you probably knew all of that.

So what, legally, is Scotch? Well, thats a little complicated, so lets start by breaking Scotches down by type. Single malt Scotch whisky can be produced only from water and malted barley at a single distillery through batch distillation in pot stills. Single grain Scotch is also distilled at a single distillery and, in addition to water and malted barley, can also contain whole grains of other malted or unmalted cereals. So those are the two basic types of Scotch, but there are also three different types of blended Scotch whisky:


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Which Scotch Whiskey Is The Best

Single malt Scotch whiskey is the most popular one these days. This is a whiskey that is made by one single distillery that uses only malted barley. There are no other cereals in this whiskey, and it has to be produced and bottled in Scotland.

Another type of Scotch whiskey is single grain, which is not as common in the rest of the world. The production starts only with malted barley, but then whole grains or cereals are added. This is usually the Scotch that is used in blended whiskey as well.

The next type of Scotch is a blended whiskey, which is made from at least one or more single malt whiskey blended with a single grain whiskey.

Blended Scotch whiskey constitutes about 90% of all Scotch produced in Scotland. You may be familiar with some brands, such as Johnnie Walker and Chivas Regal.

One type of Scotch whiskey that is far less common across the world is blended malt Scotch. It was called a vatted malt or pure malt, and it is made using two or more malt Scotch whiskeys from different distilleries. This whiskey should not contain any grain whiskey at all.

A final type of Scotch whiskey is double malt Scotch. However, this Scotch is no different except that it was aged in two or more types of casks. This whiskey remains in the single malt category, but it is often called double or triple malt instead.

As with Irish whiskey, choosing the best Scotch whiskey depends mostly on taste and cost. For most, single malt Scotch is the purest, but it is also often the priciest.


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