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A Quick Summary on Different Types of Whiskey

Whisky or whiskey?

It can be spelled in both ways. The difference between the two has to do with the country of origin.

Whiskey- Ireland and the U.S.

Whisky- Scotland, Japan, and Canada

Whiskey is made from fermented grains (might be malted) such as corn, barley, wheat, or rye. It’s also a general term to categorize all the different types of mashed, fermented, distilled, and matured alcoholic beverages.

What makes one whiskey different than the other (and therefore changes the name) are mainly the place of origin, the type of grain being used, and how it’s been aged. The list below will help you gather information about the main types of whiskeys available and their place of origin.

Drink away!




Must be made in America (not exclusive to Bourbon County, Kentucky).

Must include at least 51% corn.

Goes into new chard oak barrels for a minimum of 2 years.

Notes of caramel and vanilla. 

One of the largest selling whiskey categories.

Tennessee Bourbon

Must be bourbon first, but also must be made in the state of Tennessee.

It has a higher percentage of corn (up to 80%). 

New charred oak barrel for a minimum of 2 years.

Notes of caramel and vanilla, sweeter.

Bottled in Bond

A term created by the government in 1897 (the Bottled-in-Bond Act) to ensure the quality of the whiskey you’re getting.

It has to be aged at least 4 years.

Made by one distiller and one distilling season- under the supervision of the federal government. 

Rye Whiskey

It contains at least 51% rye (often more).

Unlike the sweetness of the corn, rye whiskey is on the bitter, dryer side. 

Regulated in the U.S.

New Charred Oak Barrel for a minimum of 2 years.

There’s a sweeter version of rye whiskey which has, in addition to the rye, corn in it. It could be referred to as Maryland Rye Whiskey.

Canadian Whisky

Almost the same as American Rye Whiskey with minor changes.

Made in Canada.

High rye content. 

Aged in small wood for no less than 3 years.

The base whisky is often distilled at a higher alcohol content and matured in barrels that have been used one or more times.

Smooth and crispy with hints of spiciness to it.

Can be called Canadian Whisky, Canadian Rye Whisky, Rye Whisky.


Distilled and bottled in Scotland.

Consisting of barley and water, and may include additional ingredients (other grains such as corn and wheat). Other cereals may be added for flavoring.

Aged in casks for at least 3 years.

Single Malt- from a single Scottish distillery.

Blended Scotch- A single malt Scotch blended with a single grain scotch. Blended Malt or Pure Malt- A blend of two single malt scotches from different distilleries.

Blended Grain Scotch- A blend of two single grain scotches from differing distilleries.

Double Malt Scotch- Aged in multiple barrels (double or triple wood).

Irish Whiskey

Needs to be distilled and matured in Ireland.

Fermented by yeast. 

Comprised of a mash of malted cereal grains.

Aged for at least 3 years.

Smoother than most whiskeys because of the triple distillation.

Single malt Irish Whiskey- Produced in a single distillery using malted barley distilled in a pot still (distilling apparatus used to distill flavored liquors).

Single pot still whiskey- in a pot still and comprised of malted and un-malted barley, produced in a single distillery.

Grain Whiskey- produced in a Column still (a variety of still consisting of two columns). 

Blended- Any combination of the previous types of Irish whiskey.

Japanese Whiskey

Distillation is nearly identical to scotch.

Three ingredients that go into single malt whisky- malted barley, water, yeast.

Distilled twice.

Uses oak casks made from American oak, which previously contained bourbon or European oak cask, which previously held sherry.

A complex yet very balanced taste.

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