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A Sip of Knowledge: Whiskey, Bourbon, Scotch, & Rye Explained




During the month of March we hosted over 7 tasting events. One of the questions that came up often from new and old whiskey drinkers alike, was "What's the difference between whiskey, bourbon, scotch, and rye?" Let's elevate your whiskey game.


Whiskey, bourbon, scotch and rye are all types of distilled alcoholic beverages, but they have differences in terms of ingredients, production methods, and geographical origins.


  1. Whiskey: Whiskey is a broad category of distilled alcoholic beverage made from fermented grain mash. The grains used in whiskey production can include barley, corn, rye, and wheat. Whiskey is typically aged in wooden barrels, generally made of oak. There are different types of whiskey, including bourbon, scotch, and rye, which have specific production requirements and origins.

  2. Bourbon is a type of whiskey that originated in the United States. By law, bourbon must be made from a grain mixture that is at least 51% corn, distilled to no more than 160 proof (80% alcohol by volume), and aged in new charred oak barrels. Additionally, bourbon cannot contain any added flavorings or colorings. It is known for its slightly sweet flavor profile, often with notes of caramel, vanilla, and oak.

  3. Scotch, or Scotch whisky, is a type of whiskey that originates from Scotland, where it's spelled without the 'e'. Scotch is typically made from malted barley and aged in oak barrels for at least three years. There are two main types of Scotch whisky: single malt and blended. Single malt Scotch is made entirely from malted barley and produced at a single distillery, while blended Scotch is a mixture of malt whisky and grain whisky from multiple distilleries. Scotch often has a more robust and complex flavor profile, with notes of peat, smoke, and dried fruit.

  4. Rye whiskey is a type of whiskey that is primarily made from rye grain. Like bourbon, it is also produced in the United States. To be classified as rye whiskey, the mash must contain at least 51% rye. Rye whiskey tends to have a spicier and more assertive flavor compared to bourbon, with notes of pepper, fruit, and sometimes a hint of earthiness. It is often used in classic cocktails like the Manhattan and the Old Fashioned - our favorites.

While all of these spirits fall under the umbrella of whiskey, they each have distinct characteristics based on their ingredients, production methods, and regional traditions.

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