There are more whiskeys out there than ever before, and consumers are almost spoiled for choice when it comes to different malts, regions, and flavours. If you've ever shopped around for a good whiskey, then you'll appreciate just how difficult it can be to make an informed decision. With more people discovering whiskey every day, and more amazing products on the market than ever, it's important to understand the difference between Scotch and whiskey.
Scotch is actually short for Scotch whisky, without the e, which means whisky made in Scotland. The term whiskey, with the e, was originally used by the Irish. Canada, India, and Japan, three of the major new world whisky producers, follow the traditional Scottish spelling. America, for the most part, follows the Irish spelling.
What is Scotch?
Scotch is a malt or grain whisky made in Scotland. The term "Scotch" has been designated by law to describe certain products and exclude all others. Scotch must be made of only water and malted barley, with other cereal grains being optional. It must also be mashed, fermented, and distilled to no more than 94.8% ABV. To meet classification as Scotch, it must also be matured in oak casks not exceeding 700 litres for a minimum of three years in Scotland.
There are generally believed to be five unique types of Scotch whisky: single malt Scotch whisky, single grain Scotch whisky, blended malt Scotch whisky, blended grain Scotch whisky, and blended Scotch whisky.
While Scotch whisky was traditionally made from malted barley, wheat and rye were introduced in the late 18th century. In fact, the introduction of whisky blends consisting of grain whisky and single malts was a key reason for the divorce between "whisky" and "whiskey".