The Ultimate Guide To Different Types Of Whiskey

Types Of Whiskey

The Ultimate Guide To Different Types Of Whiskey

Whiskey is one of the few global spirits. Most continents and many countries have their own relationship with the spirit. Whiskey is the antidote to a hard day of work. Nothing quite soothes the soul like the first sip of whiskey after a long day.

Whiskey can be a bit of a divisive spirit. There are those, like us, that adore the spirit. We love whiskey in so many different forms, from bourbon to rye, to Scotch, and so many classic cocktails. 

There are those, however, that do not feel the same way. We will outline what whiskey is at its fundamental core and why it is so amazing, hopefully showing you the multitudes it has to offer. We have included a segment about whiskey cocktails to show this incredible range, answering the question what is a whiskey sour? 

We will go through the different types of whiskey by region and style. These are some basic guidelines for many regions and producers (outside of the most classic styles) who like to innovate and experiment with their production process. There might be a new whiskey on this list that might sway opinions! 

How Whiskey is Made?

What is whiskey made of? Whiskey is an alcoholic spirit that is made from fermented grain mash. It can be made from a range of different grains that produce different varieties of whiskey. The most common grains are barley, malt, wheat, corn, and rye.

Whiskey is normally aged in oak barrels for varying amounts of time, normally a minimum of three years. The longer the time spent in the barrel, the smoother, more complex, and rounded the flavor. 

It is no surprise that the longer time spent aging the more expensive the bottle as well. The types of whiskey don’t strictly matter when it comes to the length of aging, all varieties can be subject to a long aging process.

There are so many characteristics of regional whiskey around the world. Each corner of the world that produces the spirit has a different set of rules that they follow. However, in broad strokes, the typical widespread characteristics are the fermentation of grains, distillation, and aging in wooden barrels.


scotch whiskey

Scotch whisky is produced in Scotland (as expected), Japan, and across the United States. We will offer up examples mainly from these countries. What is scotch whisky you ask? Scotch comes from the Scottish method of whisky-making using malted barley and water. 

Malted barley is essentially barley that has been allowed to germinate (or sprout) in water, before being dried in a kiln. This produced a specific, deep flavor that is the perfect basis for delicious whisky.

Scotch is seen as one of the more classic, classy, and refined bottles of whisky. It can become really expensive. This is for multiple reasons, but essentially it’s because the best products take a while to make.

Irish Whiskey

irish whiskey

Irish whiskey originated in Ireland, obviously. Although it is one of the earliest distilled spirits, Irish whiskey has recently made a recent huge resurgence. Since 1990, Irish whiskey has been the fastest-growing spirit every year. 

The distinguishing factors of Irish whiskey, aside from geographical, mainly come from aroma and smoothness of taste. Irish whiskey is much less smoky than Scotch and has a much smoother finish. This is because in Scotch production the malted barley is dried using peat smoke. 

In order to gain the title of Irish whiskey, there are various strict rules and regulations that must be abided by, such as that all bottles must be distilled and matured on the Island of Ireland.


bourbon whiskey

In America, bourbon is probably the preferred whiskey variety. It is generally made with corn as the majority grain, though it is often created from a blend of grains. It has a delightful sweetness and rounded palate that suits American diets well. 

Bourbon is used in so many fantastic, classic American cocktails such as the Manhattan, Sidecar, and many more. Bourbon is very much an American spirit, though it has found its way across the globe.


rye whiskey

What is rye whiskey? Rye is made from at least 51% rye and tends to have a spicier flavor than bourbon. Rye whiskey is adored for its peppery notes and complex flavor. It is a fantastic spirit to have neat due to the ranging and varied flavor profiles of different rye crops.

What is rye whiskey used as an ingredient in? Rye is a staple of the Sazerac cocktail, one of the most revered classic cocktails. We love adding Rye to our old fashions as well for an extra layer of flavor.


Japanase whiskey

Japanese whisky is inspired by the Scotch style. This was done consciously, with the pioneering producers having studied the process with great attention. Their products are revered in the whisky world. They have gained a worldwide appreciation for their stellar range of products, sighting the Japanese attention to detail as a strong reason why their products are so good.

Japanese whisky is made in majority by two companies: Suntory and Nikka. The first and most famous distillery is called and located in Yamazaki. By 2024, new regulations will be put in place, requiring all products labeled as ‘Japanese Whisky’ to be fermented, distilled, aged, and bottled in Japan.


canadian whiskey

Canadian whisky follows the Scottish process of whisky making, just like Japan. They use malted barley that is roasted to create their base. It is smokier and peatier, having only been distilled twice rather than thrice via the Irish method.

Canada has some of the purest water in all of the Americas, and even around the world. This forms an amazing platform to create whisky flavors. Alongside this water, Canadian crops must be used. Canada raises a myriad of beautiful crops.

Though Canadian whisky is often referred to as rye, it does not have to be made with a rye-dominant blend. The blend, whatever it may be, is then aged for three years. 


indian whiskey

Indian whisky has undergone an interesting transition this century. Up until 2006, most of their whiskies would actually be classified as a rum in the EU. Their products contained neutral alcohol and were sweetened by molasses, both characteristics that are prohibited in the European Union. 

Since then, India has entered the global whisky market. Their products have now doubled their sales in the local market, with locals seemingly preferring home-grown products to international fairs. India is the largest whiskey market in the world, with one of the world’s biggest populations. 

The Indian whiskey products are mostly comprised of cheaper blended whiskies and single malt scotch products. This provides a wide range and caters to the country’s wide-ranging wealth gap and the demand for affordable varietals.


american whiskey

American whiskey is often thought of as bourbon, but there are other varieties that are loved just the same. Wheat-based whiskies and Tennessee whiskey are both commonly adored. Jack Daniels, the most famous whiskey brand in the world, falls into this category.

Tennessee whiskey is very similar to Bourbon, with a slight change in the filtration process that distinguishes it. Tennessee whiskey is, of course, distilled in the Southern state of Tennessee. It is a local favorite. 

American wheat whiskey has to be made with at least 51% wheat. Due to the wide-ranging climates of the country, many different kinds of wheat are produced. This creates some lighter and darker varieties of the spirit, with the darker tending to be more full-bodied. When asked, what is a whiskey sour made from? Bartenders will often use American wheat whiskey.

We hope you have enjoyed learning about the different varieties of whiskey. We really do feel in awe of how diverse, varied, and incredible this spirit is. In America in particular, there is so much history attached to this drink that makes it even more adored by the regions that produce it.