Whisky or whiskey? Malt? Bourbon? Rye? When first diving into the wonderful world that orbits around this popular drink, it can be quite confusing. There are so many different terms!

First off, we’ll start with whiskey vs whisky. The spelling doesn’t actually make any difference, really. But for knowledge sake: if it is from Scotland, Japan or Canada, it is spelled whisky. If it is from the United States or Ireland, it is spelled whiskey.


Scotch is whisky that originates from Scotland. Scotch is typically aged in used bourbon barrels for 3 years, and is distilled twice. Scotch comes in a variety of forms.

  • Single Maltdownload
  • Single Grain
  • Blended Malt
  • Blended Grain
  • Blended Scotch

There are five official Scotch regions, and one ‘unofficial’ one.

  • Campbeltown
  • Highlands
  • Islay
  • Lowlands
  • Speyside
  • Islands – all the islands, except Islay

Irish Whiskey

Irish whiskey originates from (no surprise here!) Ireland. Irish whiskey also ages for 3 years, but unlike Scotch it is triple distilled. There are only 10 operating distilleries in Ireland – seven of which only opened in the last decade.


There are three types of American whiskey.

  • Bourbon: Contains a minimum of 51% corn.
  • Rye: Contains a minimum of 51% rye.
  • Tennessee Whiskey: Made only in Tennessee, this bourbon undergoes an extra charcoal filtering process.


Most Canadian whisky is a blend of bourbon-style whiskies and other grain whiskies, with a small amount of rye whiskies.

Japanese Whisky

When the Japanese do anything, they do it well. And their whisky is no exception. While their whiskies have become popular worldwide in the last few years, they have been producing whisky since the 1920s. Masataka Taketsuru studied distilling in Scotland, and brought the knowledge back with him to Japan. Japanese whisky is generally made in a similar way to Scotch, but each brand has its own unique profile.