Scotch whisky is commonly made from malted barley or grain with the spirit aged in oak casks for a minimum of three years. Distilled in Scotland, Scotch is divided into five distinct categories that include single malt, single grain, blended malt, blended grain and blended scotch whisky.
Irish Whiskey is distilled in Northern Ireland. It is made from yeast-fermented grain mash or a mash of malted cereals and takes a minimum of three years to age in a wooden cask. Irish whiskey has a smooth finish.
Bourbon is distilled in America, primarily made from corn it is stored in charred oak casks and contains no additives. A slightly sweet tasting whiskey, bourbon is slightly smoky and has a reddish colour due to fermentation in charred oak casks.
Tennessee whiskey (as the name suggests) is distilled in Tennessee in the United States. The difference between Tennessee and bourbon whiskey is down to the method of filtering. Tennessee whiskey is steeped in charcoal before going into the casks for fermentation.
Rye whiskey is mainly distilled in North America. A mash no less than percent 51% rye is aged in charred barrels for at least two years. Rye is a type of grass and member of the wheat family. The whiskey has a slight fruity and spicy flavour.
Most relaxed rules of the major whisk(e)y nations (each distillery can follow it’s own production process and methods)
Must be aged in small wood for not less than three years
Must possess the aroma, taste and character generally attributed to Canadian whisky
Must be mashed, distilled and aged in Canada
May contain caramel and flavouring.
Similar to Scotch, each Canadian Whisky is generally the product of a single distillery
Regardless of grain, Canadian distillers usually create two whiskies (a base whisky + a flavoring whisky) and then combine them together to create the final product.
The base whisky is often distilled at a higher alcohol content and matured in barrels that have been used one or more times, reducing the grain and barrel’s influence on the flavor and giving at the characteristic “smoothness” or “elegance” of Canadian whiskies.
The flavoring whisky is usually distilled at a lower alcohol content, allowing the grain derived flavors to be highlighted. It is also usually aged in virgin barrels or a mix of virgin and used barrels, extracting more flavor from the barrel.
Generally Canadian whiskies are lighter and sweeter in character but still full of flavor. Considered easy to drink. When the maker mentions that rye is used generously in the finishing of the whisky, it will usually have a nice spicier bite.