What's the Difference Between Whiskey, Whisky, and Bourbon?

Whiskey is distilled spirit that's made from fermented mash mixed with water and aged in oak barrels. If it's only made in Scotland and meets certain requirements, it's called "whisky".




So what makes one a whiskey and another a bourbon? A lot of things: age, location of distillation and recipe ingredients, just to name a few. Below are some of the key differences between whiskey, whisky and bourbon.


Scotch whisky is made in Scotland. To be labelled whisky, it must be distilled twice and aged for at least three years in oak barrels. The aging can be done for up to 25 years for single malt Scotch whiskies like Glenfiddich or Macallan.


Bourbon is made in the U. S, using a mash of corn and barley with water, yeast and sometimes rye. It's distilled once, then stored in new charred white oak barrels for at least two years but no more than four years. The type of barrel plays a big part in how your whiskey will taste – if you want to keep things simple, go for American Oak barrels as they impart a lighter flavor profile than others. Scotch and Canadian whiskies are typically aged in ex-bourbon barrels to get some of the American whiskey flavor into their final product.

Irish whiskey is also distilled twice, but it's not required to be aged – if it's stored for less than three years, it can still be labeled as "Irish Whiskey".

1. Irish Whiskey is made from malted barley and grains such as corn, wheat and rye. Irish whiskey must be distilled, matured, blended and bottled in Ireland. Irish whiskey was first produced in the mid-17th century by English settlers. Today there are over 40 distilleries currently producing fine Irish Whiskey including some of the finest brands: Jameson, Paddy, Midleton and Tullamore Dew.




2. Scotch Whisky s a type of malt whisky originating from Scotland that must be aged for at least three years in oak casks. Scotch Whisky is produced all over Scotland but the major production areas include Speyside, Campbeltown, Islay and Highland. Scotch Whisky accounts for nearly 90% of UK spirits exports with a value of £3 billion each year (source: HMRC).



3 – Bourbon needs to meet strict requirements to be labelled as such: it must be made in America; it can only use natural ingredients; it must not contain any additives except water to reduce alcohol strength by volume; it cannot contain any added colouring or flavouring; it cannot contain any spirits distilled at less than 80% abv; the spirit has been stored in new charred American white oak barrels for at least two years which impart its distinctive colour and flavour profile; bourbon can only be labelled 'straight' if no additional flavour or colourings have been added other than caramel colouring (caramel colouring may also be added after aging); bourbon can also carry an age statement on label if two years old or more.




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