Are you a complete beginner when it comes to different types of whiskey?
Often people get bedazzled by the different amber and golden bottles the moment they step foot in a bar. They get perplexed by the bar menu and end up ordering something completely different from their comfort zone! So what are the different types of whiskey?
What is all this debate about Scotch Whisky and Irish Whiskey? Beginners can be bemused by the different types of whiskey. Even whiskey connoisseurs sometimes find it wildly intimidating when it comes to the diversity of various types of whiskey!
But first and foremost, an essential query that might have crossed your minds quite a few times!
Whiskey or Whisky?
You might be wondering what the deal with two different spellings is? What is the right spelling- Whiskey or Whisky?
They are both correct! If you are not biased by region, you can use either one of the spellings. It typically depends on the region of origin of the Whisk(e)y.
Irish brands use the “e” in whiskey. Americans follow this tradition. But ‘Canadian whisky’ and ‘Japanese whisky’ are all without the “e.” Therefore spirits of Scotland, Canada, and Japan are spelled as whisky.
Different Types of Whiskey You Need to Know!
Whiskey is mainly differentiated based on 1. Place of origin, 2. Ingredients, 3. Distilling process. On these bases, there are mostly five different types of whiskey!
1. Scotch Whisky
Primarily from Scotland, this is generally labeled for whiskey connoisseurs. But that is not the case. However, it is something that is not favored by novice drinkers, mainly for its taste.
This drink is not something to drink when you want to get intoxicated! (You have your vodka and other teen drinks for that) This is something you pour, sit back beside a fireplace, and savor its potential and rich smoky taste.
The scotch is generally made of two ingredients- malted barley or grain. Scotch can be a single malt whisky or a blended whisky for that matter. But it is to be aged in an oak barrel for at three years.
Single malt whisky is the end product of a single distillery, while blended whisky is the result of different distilleries and then all blended. And by law, you have to mention the age of the youngest whisky you have used in the blended lot.
Some of the world’s premier and most costly types of whiskey are single malt whisky of Scotland. The Scottish people take their whisky very seriously, and that is why the art of making whisky in Scotland is indeed an earnest endeavor.
You might not like your first peg of scotch, you might drink the second out of curiosity, but there is a saying that if you can make it to the third one- you are a scotch drinker for life!
You might not be a fan of its smoky flavor, and that is entirely okay, for we have a couple of other varieties too.
2. Irish Whiskey
Primarily made in Ireland and Northern Ireland, it resembles Scotland to a large extent but has a couple of its features and deviations too!
Whiskey came up from a common phrase in Ireland- ‘uisce beatha,‘ which rightfully means water of life! Irish whiskey has a unique tasteand not as smoky as scotch but is not as sweet as bourbon whiskey.
This caramel-colored whiskey variant is made using a mash of malt and is distilled using water. Unlike scotch, which is aged mainly in an oak barrel, Irish whiskey has to be aged in wooden caskets for minimum three years.
It is a lot smoother than the other types of whiskey included in our list, and that is a huge plus point for this variant. The texture can be grassy and grainy as well. In some way, you can say that this is easier to drink as compared to scotch.
If you are a person who is offended by the smoky flavor of scotch but still wants to try out their hand at some exquisite whiskey tasting, then Irish Jameson is the one for you!
3. American Whiskey
Let’s talk about the different types of whiskey in the United States now! When it comes to cocktails, American Whiskey is at the top of its game.
If you want a whiskey that tastes nice and sweet- American Whiskey is your thing. American whiskey is mainly classified into Bourbon, Tennessee, and Rye whiskey. Although there are other variants like wheat, single malt American, and bonded in a bottle, the initial three are the main.
American whiskey is sweeter and does not have that smoky or peaty flavor to it. The main difference between a scotch and an American whiskey is that they are aged in charred old barrels. This is one of those types of whiskey you drink when you don’t like the briny taste!
Initially, when the Europeans came to explore America, they found rye growing in abundance. They made this into whiskey, and the iconic, world-renowned rye whiskey came into being. Then America’s top tier Bourbon came into being with the abundance of corn.
Nowadays, there are a lot of differences between European and American styles and tastes. After the initialization of the craft whiskey movement, the whiskey trade became diverse in the last decade.
Let’s learn a bit about them now.
3.1. Bourbon whiskey
Bourbon is one of the big shots when it comes to the market of American whiskey. Mainly associated with Kentucky, Bourbon must be made of 51% corn. Barley or rye make up for the rest
Bourbon has an aftertaste of vanilla and can be considered almost sweet. This is also the smoothest whiskey you will ever come across in your life.
3.2. Rye whiskey
Without a doubt, it can be said that rye whiskey is made of 51% rye. Barley and corn make up for the rest. Different spices and fruit flavors are used in the making of rye, so it has a kind of a spicy aftertaste feel. It’s flavor also varies from the bourbon.
3.3. Tennessee whiskey
This can rather be called a variation of Bourbon, which has been one of the popular types of whiskey over the past few decades.
4. Canadian Whisky
The Great White North has indeed practiced the art of making whisky to perfection. Corn and rye are the essential ingredients of Canadian whisky, but other ingredients like wheat and barley can also be occasionally found here.
Canadian whisky has some similarities to that of Scotch- they are the end product of a single distillery. Two types of whiskey are mixed to create the final product- a base and a flavored whiskey.
Another main reason that caused the Canadian whisky to flourish is the restriction on American whiskey. There was a chokehold on American Whiskey production, and this led to the superior sell of the whisky of Canada. Even today, Canada supplies 75% of America’s whiskey demand.
If you are a beginner, then this is one of the types of whiskey that you must try out. This is light, as well as sweet, and has a load of flavors. It is often considered easy to consume for a novice!
They are known as ‘the rye.’ So if you are in a Canadian bar, opt for ‘the rye,’ and you will get to experience one of the best flavors of your life. Since rye is mainly used as an ingredient here, the cocktails will have a spicy flavored kick to it.
5. Japanese Whisky
Japan was relatively late to the Whisky production game and did not produce whisky until it was 1920. It was initially made to copy the taste of scotch. But now, after a century of practice, Japan has nearly perfected the art. Apart from the incredibly well-balanced texture, they practice a lot of styles and textures for people with various preferences.
Though the Japanese have the distilling methods similar to that of scotch, they have grown to be some of the best whiskeys of the world now. They also grew up to have a diverse character of their own.
Japanese whisky is now well known for their impeccably perfect taste and state of the art standards. It also goes very well in mixers and cocktails. Though traditional Japanese spirits were wholly similar to scotch, modern whisky of Japan resemble Bourbon to some extent.
Yamazaki Single Malt Sherry Cask was voted the best whisky of the world back in 2013.
Now that you have the basic knowledge of the five types of whiskey, what are you even waiting for? Go and experiment with the different flavors and see which one is the best fit for you!
What are the various types of whiskey you have consumed? Which one is your favorite? Would you like to try out some of the spirits mentioned above? Let us know down in the comment section!
Also, you might like to read the benefits of alcohol.