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A Guide to the Different Kinds of Whiskey

September 11 2023

A Guide to the Different Kinds of Whiskey
A Guide to the Different Kinds of Whiskey

Whiskey offers immense diversity in flavors and styles. From smooth Irish whiskey to smoky Scotch whisky, the variations seem endless. This guide will walk you through the major categories and what makes each whiskey unique.

Overview of Whiskey Types

Whiskey refers to distilled alcoholic beverages made from fermented grain mash. The different whiskey varieties come from the grains used, distillation process, aging, and geographical origins. The main types covered in this guide include:

Now let's explore what gives each whiskey variety its distinctive character.

Scotch Whisky

Scotch whisky hails from Scotland. It's distilled from malted barley and must be aged in oak casks for at least 3 years. Known for smoky, peaty flavors.

Key Scotch Whisky Facts:

  • Made in Scotland from water and malted barley
  • Distinct smoky, peaty flavor
  • Aged minimum 3 years in oak casks
  • Single malt and blended varieties

Irish Whiskey

Irish whiskey comes from Ireland. It's distilled from malted barley and is triple distilled for a signature smoothness. Known for notes of honey and spice.

Key Irish Whiskey Facts:

  • Made in Ireland from water, malted barley
  • Triple distilled for a smooth finish
  • Flavors of honey, spice, and toasted wood
  • Single malt and blended varieties


Bourbon whiskey hails from the USA. It's distilled primarily from corn and aged in charred new oak barrels for bold flavor. Known for notes of vanilla, caramel, and oak.

Key Bourbon Whiskey Facts:

  • Made in the USA from at least 51% corn
  • Aged in charred new American oak barrels
  • Sweet flavors of vanilla, caramel and oak
  • Produced mainly in Kentucky

Rye Whiskey

Rye whiskey contains at least 51% rye grain. It has a spicy, peppery flavor with notes of vanilla and caramel from barrel aging. Popular for cocktails.

Key Rye Whiskey Facts:

  • Made with a minimum 51% rye grain
  • Spicy flavor with notes of pepper
  • Aged in charred oak barrels
  • Used in cocktails like the Manhattan

Tennessee Whiskey

Tennessee whiskey meets requirements for bourbon but goes through charcoal filtering. This gives it a signature mellow, caramelized flavor.

Key Tennessee Whiskey Facts:

  • Meets criteria for bourbon whiskey
  • Additionally filtered through charcoal
  • Signature smooth, mellow flavor
  • Mainly produced in Tennessee

Canadian Whisky

Canadian whisky is light and smooth blended whiskey made from corn, rye, and other grains. It's typically aged 5+ years in former bourbon casks.

Key Canadian Whisky Facts:

  • Blend of corn, rye, and other grains
  • Aged at least 5 years in used bourbon casks
  • Light and smooth flavor
  • One of the most popular whisky styles

Japanese Whisky

Japanese whisky is modeled after Scotch but made with local ingredients. It combines malted barley, corn, rice and is aged in Japanese oak.

Key Japanese Whisky Facts:

  • Inspired by Scotch traditions
  • Made from local malted barley, corn, rice
  • Aged in native Japanese oak
  • Light, smooth flavor profile

Single Malt Whisky

Single malt whisky comes from one distillery in Scotland, Ireland or elsewhere. It's made from only water and malted grains.

Key Single Malt Whisky Facts:

  • Produced at a single distillery
  • Made only from water and malted grains
  • Showcases distillery's signature style
  • More than 700 varieties just from Scotland

Single Pot Still Whiskey

Single pot still whiskey is a distinctly Irish style made from malted and unmalted barley. It has a spicy, robust flavor.

Key Single Pot Still Whiskey Facts:

  • Originally triple distilled Irish style
  • Made from malted and unmalted barley
  • Spicy, robust flavor
  • Traditionally produced in copper pot stills

Blended Whiskey

Blended whiskey combines grain whiskey and malt whiskeys from different distilleries. This creates balance and consistency.

Key Blended Whiskey Facts:

  • Blend of grain and malt whiskeys
  • From multiple distilleries
  • Aims for consistent flavor
  • Includes blended Scotch whisky

Craft Whiskey

Craft whiskey is produced at small independent distilleries experimenting with unique ingredients and methods. Offers great variety.

Key Craft Whiskey Facts:

  • Produced at small independent distilleries
  • Experiments with unique grains, aging
  • Great variety of flavors and styles
  • Part of the craft distilling movement

Rye Malt Whiskey

Rye malt whiskey substitutes malted rye for malted barley. This gives a spicy, hardy flavor profile.

Key Rye Malt Whiskey Facts:

  • Malted rye grain instead of barley
  • Bolder, spicier flavor
  • Still follows whiskey regulations
  • Less common whiskey variety

Glasses of whiskey with ice cubes

Final thoughts on the different types of whiskey

Now that you're acquainted with the major whiskey categories, enhance your home bar with premium selections. Browse our extensive range of whiskey to explore new flavors and styles. Sláinte!


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