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Whiskey, also known as whisky, is as much a broad categorization of spirits as it is a spirit type. One determinant between whiskey and whisky is where it's produced. Whiskey from Ireland and the United States is usually spelled with an “e.” Whisky from Scotland, Canada, Japan and elsewhere is spelled without an “e.” So regional grammar is why you’ll see Scotch whisky but Irish whiskey on the shelves. Most whiskey distillers use the plural form whiskeys to hint that they are referring to whiskey; whereas whisky is usually pluralized as whiskies. The difference between types of whiskies like bourbon, rye or scotch is a bit more complex. Along with country of origin, the type of whiskey or whisky is also determined by the grain used in the distillation process. Different grains produce different taste characteristics. Couple that with varying distillation methods by region and producer, and you get a wide range of flavors from sweet to spicy and from smooth to bold and smokey.

TYPES OF WHISKEY:

  • Bourbon is a type of American whiskey made from a mash of at least 51 percent corn and aged in new charred-oak barrels, among other laws. American whiskeys are a broad category but usually made of corn, rye, barley or wheat and aged in oak barrels.
  • Irish whiskey is the oldest whiskey in the world and has become synonymous with smooth. Today it's distilled and aged on the island of Ireland in wooden barrels for at least three years before bottling.
  • Scotch whisky is distilled in Scotland and aged in oak barrels for at least three years. The barley is often dried using smoke from burning peat, which gives scotch its signature smoky flavor.
  • Rye whiskey is a type of American whiskey that follows all the same laws as bourbon except one: Rye whiskey must be distilled with a mash of at least 51 percent rye. Its flavor is usually drier when compared to the sweet flavor of bourbon whiskey.
  • Canadian whisky is a broad category of whiskies that are fermented, distilled and aged in Canada. Canadians usually ferment, distill and age each grain separately, then blend to create a smooth final product.