Trials and Triboozations: Scotch vs. Whiskey

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KELSEY K. FROM NYC ASKS: What’s the difference between Scotch and whiskey?

Hello Justina! For starters, they are both a type of whiskey – a spirit fermented and distilled from grains such as barley, corn, rye, or wheat, and then aged in usually-oak casks until they take on their familiar amber-brown hue.

“Scotch” refers to whiskey that is specifically produced in Scotland. They usually omit

the “e” in the spelling of “whiskey,” in case you feel you’ve caught a typo. Scotch is

produced all over the island country and has distinct styles depending on where it is

produced. It is generally feels darker, smokier, and less sweet than its American or Irish

cousins. Scotch from Islay in particular has a very strong peaty aroma.

“Whiskey” could refer to any whiskey produced elsewhere in the world. Americans are

known for their sweet Kentucky bourbon or Tennessee whiskey, both of which are

produced using a large proportion of corn. Ireland, of course, makes Irish whiskey.

Canadians are known for their rye whiskeys that have a sure spiciness from their

namesake grain. Japan is also known for producing Japanese “Scotch,” which is

stylistically closer to Scotch than North American or Irish whiskeys and therefore named

as such.


In other words, all scotch is whiskey, but not all whiskey is scotch.

By: Amy Zhou