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Whiskey styles you should know to become a whiskey connoisseur

Guest author: Andrew Christian

There’s much more complexity in the world of whiskey than one would expect. If you were to visit an online whiskey store right now, you’d understand what I mean. There are numerous types of whiskeys, each with its own aroma, age, etc. Your unique self might fall in love with type A, while I would be dedicated to drinking whiskey type B.  And yet, we’d bond over the idea of enjoying a glass of whiskey on the rocks at the end of the day. That is the beauty of whiskey!

Here’s the catch.

You can only understand the true meaning of whiskey when you learn about each of its types.

You might already buy whiskey online; you might know that whiskey is distilled from grains like corn, barley, rye, etc., that have been malted and aged in barrels, but what are the types?

It is made throughout the world in small amounts, but the significant producers are considered to be:

  • Ireland
  • Scotland
  • America
  • Canada

Whiskey coming in from all these places ensures that everyone has the chance to find a brand and type that suits them the best.

Here's the lowdown:

Scotch Whisky

As the name suggests, the original Scotch Whisky can only be made in Scotland. And according to tradition, whisky from Scotland will be spelled without the ‘e.’

Think back to the time when you had Scotch whisky. Remember the distinct smoky flavor? That comes from the malt drying process, half of which is carried out over a peat-fueled fire, allowing the malt to come in direct contact with the smoke. 

You’ve got Single Malt Scotch Whisky (produced in a single distillery and enjoyed on the rocks) or Blended Scotch Whisky (perfect for cocktails due to its softness) to choose from. 

Canadian Whisky

The perfect spirit to be mixed with cocktails is Canadian whisky. This light-bodied and versatile whiskey is mainly made with wheat or corn and has barley, rye, or barley malt as its supplement.

Canadian whisky (written as whisky following the Scottish) is aged in oak barrels for a minimum of three years but can also be aged up to six years. Making this type of whiskey is a complex process and requires expert help!

Irish Whiskey

Made in Ireland, this whiskey can be considered to be the father of all whiskeys. 

Most often, you will find this whiskey to be a blend of unmalted and pot-stilled malted whiskeys with corn-based, column-stilled whiskey.

The Irish takes great care during the distillation process and keep the temperatures as low as possible. If not done the right way, it could ruin the toasty, sweet, and delicate honey flavor of the whiskey.

This whiskey is usually aged in wine or bourbon barrels for at least three years before being bottled and sold. 

Bourbon Whiskey

A fun fact about bourbon is that it can be distilled in any state in the US but cannot be produced anywhere else in the world (technically). 

Also known as America’s native spirit, bourbon whiskey should not be blended or have any additives apart from water to reduce its consistency.

Containing at least 51 percent corn, it must be aged in a new charred oak barrel for at least two years. 

Most of the time, you’ll find that it has been aged for at least four years.

Tennessee Whiskey

Often considered to be similar to bourbon, Tennessee whiskey is made through a process known as the ‘Lincoln County Process’ wherein the whiskey dripped through a ten-foot-tall container of sugar maple charcoal. The slow process could talk up to two weeks to complete. 

It is said that this process was used by Africans, and the enslaved people owned by Jack Daniels taught him how to make whiskey. Some of the key developments in the world of American whiskey are credited to those who were enslaved. 

Blended Whiskey

Distilleries combine grain spirits and straight whiskeys to create a distinct spirit that can be enjoyed on the rocks or in a crazy cocktail! 

The catch is that a blended whiskey must contain 20% straight whiskey. This works well for small distilleries. The premium ones may go as far as to add 75 different kinds of straight whiskeys and grain spirits. 

This is why blended whiskeys have their own character, flavor and richness that is unlike straight whiskey. 

Did you know that blended whiskeys could also have added flavorings or colorings?

Today, the world of whiskey has become far more adventurous and exciting than it has ever been. 

Finding the perfect whiskey for you is no longer a task because of the vast availability in terms of options and types. 

There are three more types of whiskeys that you must know about:

  1. Single malt whiskey
  2. Rye whiskey
  3. Japanese whisky

When you’re getting your next bottle of whiskey or looking up where to buy whiskey online or which one to buy, it helps to know the basics. RackHouse Whiskey Club makes it easy as they ship craft whiskey directly to your door along with the story behind the whiskey. 


Author bio:

Andrew Christian works as a store manager in Arrow Liquormart, a liquor and wine store in Littleton, Colorado. He loves his combination of nature, wine, and nerdy friends who appreciate his homemade wines.