When it comes to whiskies in the United States, Bourbon still seems to be the favorite. However Scotch whisky has been gaining in popularity over the years and you might be wondering what makes Scotch so unique and desirable. Well sit back, pour a drink in your custom whiskey glasses and learn a few fun facts about the difference between scotch, whiskey, and bourbon.
Where did Scotch originate?
Scotch is obviously named after Scotland and therefore one might rightfully assume it originated in Scotland. Some debate that it was actually the Irish who first practiced the art of distilling, but the Scots won’t agree. Nonetheless, it is popular belief that Scotch originated over 1000 years ago when monks traveling from mainland Europe brought the art of distilling with them to Ireland and Scotland.
What is it? Whiskey or Whisky?
Whiskey or whisky can be any liquor that is distilled from a fermented mash made from a variety of grains. The distilling takes place in wooden containers, often barrels constructed of oak. We won’t get into what makes a whiskey either scotch, rye or bourbon….that’s an article for another day. However why on earth is it sometimes spelled with an “e” and yet others eliminate that e?
Well Whiskey from the United States and Ireland spell it Whiskey. In Scotland and Canada, it’s spelled Whisky. It’s not a spelling error! This is very specific and intentional.
How is scotch different from bourbon?
Scotch whisky is made primarily from a barley mash and is first malted and then heated over a bed of peat to give it a smoky flavor. This whisky can only be called Scotch if it is made and bottled in Scotland.
Bourbon whiskey originated in the United States, and specifically in Kentucky according to most. What makes this whiskey a bourbon? In order to be labeled as bourbon, the mash must be made from 51% corn. The remaining mash recipe can come from any of the other popular cereal grains used in distilling.
What flavors distinguish scotch from bourbon?
Bourbon typically has a much sweeter taste, mainly due to its high corn content. Scotch, however has a smoky taste due to the process of heating the barley mash over burning peat. This process also gives it a very earthy flavor and you will surely taste the peat when you savor each sip. In order to really notice the differences in aromas and flavors, we recommend having Glencairn scotch glasses. These tasting snifters are made specifically to funnel the flavor properly for true tasting pleasure.
What are the most popular brands of Scotch Whisky?
In the United States, according to sales reports from 2019 and 2020, Dewar’s is the most popular, followed by Johnnie Walker Black and Red. Diageo comes in third. In Scotland, however, the top seller is The Famous Grouse. Worldwide sales of Glenfiddich, Glenlivet, Johnnie Walker and Dewar’s make these brands best sellers overall.
So the next time you pull out your custom engraved whiskey flask and pour yourself a dram, take a moment to enjoy the history and nuances of this fine spirit. You might even share a few fun facts with your friends over that drink to really make an impression.