Is it Whiskey or Whisky?

Ever wondered why there is whiskey and why there is whisky or what’s the difference between a Scotch and an Irish?

Here, we will try to explain the pros and cons of each without being too biased towards Ireland! The two powerhouses of whiskey makers, Ireland & Scotland for centuries have argued as to who was the first one to distill a batch of the liquid gold. Now the Scots do lay claim to the title but the first written record of whiskey comes from Ireland in 1405 in the Irish Annals of Clonmacnoise, where it was written that the head of a clan died after "taking a surfeit of aqua vitae" at Christmas, and the first known mention in Scotland dates from 1494(a little bit later). Secondary to this, the first licensed distillery in the world is the Old  Bushmills Distillery in Co Antrim in Northern Ireland. 

Over time, the two countries have put their own touches on the spirit, even down to the spelling of the word whiskey or whisky. You won’t find a bottle of Teeling with whisky on it nor will you find a bottle of Ardbeg with whiskey on it! If you do, hang on to it as it may be worth some money!

Key Differences

  • It may sound obvious but Irish whiskey must be distilled and matured on the island of Ireland and Scotch must be distilled and matured in Scotland.
  • Irish whiskey is distilled three times giving it it’s distinct smooth flavour and lighter colour whereas Scotch is distilled just twice giving it a slightly rougher darker profile. 
  • Irish whiskey needs to be matured in casks for a minimum of three years whereas Scotch only needs a minimum of two.
  • Irish whiskey is made with a blend of malted and unmalted barley in a pot still, whereas Scotch uses 100% malted barley (grain that has been soaked so that it begins to sprout). Also, the malted barley in Scotch is dried over peat smoke, Irish whiskey, which is made from kiln-dried barley, tastes more of the grain itself.
  • Irish whiskies are predominantly blended with spirits coming from one or more distilleries or grains whereas Scotch single malts are quite popular. In saying this, you can find blended Scotch whisky and Irish single malts.

Hopefully this gives you an idea of what the difference between Irish Whiskey and Scotch Whisky is, check out our full range of Irish Whisk'e'y below!

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