Difference between different types of whisky?!

Question: Difference between different types of whisky?
Whisky drinkers, clue me in! What's the difference between one whisky and another regarding taste, smell, naming, etc?
I am not a whisky drinker but I drink other spirits, mostly rum and vodka, and with words like scotch, bourbon, blended malt, and things like that being thrown around, I've become curious as to what they all mean and what the difference between one type of whisky and another is.
I have tried Johnnie Walker and Jack Daniels and for the life of me could not tell you what either one is (although I happen to know that Walker is scotch because I was informed by a friend).

Finally, if you could, I'd like to hear your opinions as to what types and brands of whisky are best.


Best Answer - Chosen by Voters

Well if you cannot tell the difference between scotch and bourbon, explaining will not likely help. Southern sipping bourbon aka whiskey is my personal favorite. Scotch or irish whiskey is quite different and "dry". It is nothing like Jack Daniel's (sweet and orange flavored). My favorite is Maker's Mark and if I cannot find a good southern whiskey not adulterated with lots of additional perfumey flavors (like those in Jack Daniel's and Southern Comfort (skunk??)), then I will go for a "club" whiskey like a Canadian Club.


It all comes down to personal preference and I can easily pick out each main category if not get quite a good chance on the brand name.

Most of the different names reference where the whiskey comes from. Bourbon often comes from Bourbon County, Kentucky or nearby, Scotch from Scotland (by law), and Canadian whiskey from....wait for it....Canada!

Bourbon and Canadian are the ones usually used as mixers since they don't have any overpowering flavors.

You'd probably like Basil Hayden's pretty well, since it's light and a little sweet. Most scotch whisky has a smoky or earthy taste.

If you want to drink whiskey for the taste you should try mixing it with a little water and letting it breathe for a few minutes before drinking. This lets you taste the different flavors rather than just the burn of the alcohol.

Cognac (pronounced ko-ni-ak) is excellent, really smooth for a hard alcohol. Good with Sprite, excellent with most mixers.

Whiskey is aged in oak casks for flavor.

Bourbon does not mean it comes from Bourbon county. Bourbon means that that batch of whiskey was aged in a cask that had not previously been used to age whiskey.

Scotch refers to whiskey from Scotland.

Single malt refers to a bottle of whiskey that comes from a single cask, which gives it a more bold flavor. Blend, or blended malt whiskey, is a blend of whiskey from various casks to give a more complex flavor.

Cognac is not whiskey. It is an aged, fortified product of grapes (wine). If you are mixing cognac with sprite, you are wasting cognac. Stop it.

The best way to enjoy a good whiskey is at room temperature with a few drops of ice cold spring water. This opens up the oils and releases the flavors.

Maker's Mark is always good, as are Knob Creek and Bulleit. These are good bourbons, but don't be afraid to try different ones to broaden your palate.

Challenge on :-)

Whiskey is the Irish spelling. Also followed on in the US and Canada (and most of the rest of the world too)

Whisky is Scottish and that is where the variation really starts.

Grain is malted and then dried. Air dry it and you get a malt that is true to itself. Dry it with smoke (peat or wood) and you add something else. Vary the proportions of malt dried in different ways and create a new recipe.

Water can contain different minerals, be more or less peaty and that changes the taste.

Ferment to produce alcohol. Type of yeast? Length of fermentation?

The shape and height of the still decides how much alcohol/flavourings (UK spelling!) come over into the final product. Whisky is double distilled unlike Irish whiskey which is triple distilled. (there is one whisky distillery called Auchentoshan which triples).

Age in wood casks. Never new, but what was in before will add to the final result. Sherry, bourbon,port, madeira etc. but never, ever new casks.

Leave to age. Salt sea air or damp highland? Yet another factor.

Finally bottle. Then the process is over. Never changes once in bottle unless the bottle leaks.

What kinds are best? I currently have a bottle of Cardhu in the cupboard. Subtle and smooth but actually my favourite it Talisker from Skye. Very very peaty and too much for some. It is all a matter of personal taste.

Many claim that Macallan makes the best whisky in the world. The biggest selling single malt brands are Glenfiddich, Glenlivet and Macallan.


PS. cognac is not long matured fortified wine it is distilled, long matured wine. Same process as whisky and any bit as fine a drink.


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