Types of Whisky.
You've likely heard of Scotch, Bourbon, Whisky and even Single Malt, Blended etc. But what do they mean? Are they the same thing or completely different?
Think of Whisky as the overarching type of drink. Within Whisky, depending on its origin as well as what it's made from and how it's produced, determines the type of Whisky. For example if it's made in Scotland - it's automatically Scotch Whisky. If all casks used for bottling come from a single distillery and haven't been blended with Whiskies from other distilleries - it's Single Malt Whisky. If it's both - it's Single Malt Scotch. Through all of these combinations, huge differences in taste result - Whisky can taste anything like a bush fire to a fruity dessert.
Let's dive in to the main types of Whisky.
When you're at a bar and you ask for a Scotch - you're just asking for a Whisky that was made 100% in Scotland. Traditionally, Scotch is made mostly from malted barley and cannot have fermentation additives or short-cuts permitted.
Bourbon and Tennessee Whisk(e)y must be produced 100% in the United States and made in American white oak casts. Bourbon must contain at least 51% corn, with the rest usually a mixture of barley (used for fermentation), rye and/or wheat.
Most Bourbons are produced Kentucky or Tennessee, with those produced in Tennessee often parading the 'Tennessee Whiskey' badge proudly. Tennessee Whiskey also differs from other Bourbons in that it's additionally charcoal-filtered before it is cask filled.
Single Malt Whisky is thought of as the cream of the crop. It is made at a single distillery with a single type of malted grain - typically barley. Traditionally, Single Malts were associated with Scotland, however other countries also produce Whisky in this pure way, and wear the Single Malt badge.
Blended Whisky is a made with a combination of malt and grain, and in some case can also contain neutral spirits, flavours and colouring. Many blended Scotch Whiskies (yes, Blended Scotch is a Blended Whisky made 100% in Scotland) contain roughly 60% malt and 40% grain.
Blended Whisky is generally much more affordable than it's purest brother - Single Malt, and therefore more sells more, with some sources stating around 90% of Whisky sales around the world.
Blended Whisky is usually smoother and softer than the Single Malts, making it more approachable.
As you'd guess, Grain Whisky is made from any grain that isn't malted barley - for example corn, wheat or rye. Bourbon (which must contain 51% corn) and Rye (must contain 51% rue) Whiskies sit within this category.
Single Pot Still
Single Pot Still Whisky is specifically from Ireland. It's not characterised by it's contents, but rather that it's exclusively distilled in a single pot still.