Know your Whiskey: The Difference between Bourbon, Scotch, Rye, Irish

I can’t tell you how many times someone has asked me “What’s the difference between Scotch and Whiskey”?

At first I thought it was just one person who misunderstood the concept, but after running into this situation multiple times over the last few years I’ve learned that the majority of the people in the world really have no idea what makes whiskey whiskey, Scotch Scotch and Bourbon Bourbon.

What is Whiskey?

If we’re going to explain the difference between whiskeys, first you should understand what a whiskey actually is. To keep it simple, whiskey is any booze distilled from fermented grain mash. The only exception to this being some whiskey made from corn, which doesn’t always have to be aged.

All whiskey must be distilled at a minimum of 40% and a maximum of 94.8% alcohol by volume, . The difference between the various whiskeys relies mostly on the type of grain used for the mash.

What is Scotch?

selection of scotches

Since all whiskey is made from fermented grain mash, Scotch will obviously be no exception. To qualify as a scotch the spirit must be made from malted Barley, with many scotches using nothing more than barley, water and yeast. You are allowed to include whole grains of other cereals as well as caramel colouring. No fermentation additives or short-cuts permitted.

The spirit must also be aged in oak casks for no less than three years, and must have an ABV at less than 94.8%. Finally, you cannot call your drink Scotch unless it was made 100% in Scotland, from Scotland.

What is Bourbon?

Bourbon whiskey must be made from a grain mixture which is at least 51% corn. The fermentation process for this mixture is often started by mixing in some mash from an older already fermenting batch, a process known as sour mash.

Much like how Scotch must be made in Scotland, Bourbon can only be labeled as Bourbon if it was made in the United States. While the rules are slightly more loose with Bourbon than with Scotch it still has to conform to a few requirements.

The spirit must be distilled to no more than 80% alcohol (160 proof) and be no more than 62.5% when put into casks for aging in new charred oak barrels. Finally Bourbon has no minimum aging period, but to call your product Straight Bourbon it must be aged for no less than two years (and can have no added coloring, flavor or other spirits added).

Blended bourbon is permitted to contain coloring, flavoring and other spirits, as long as 51% of the mix is straight bourbon. The age on the bottle of blended bourbon must be the age of the youngest whiskey in the mix.

What is Tennessee Whiskey?

Selection of Tennessee whiskey

For all intents and purposes, Tennessee Whiskey is straight bourbon made in the state of Tennessee. The people who produce this spirit, such as Jack Daniels, don’t want their whiskey labeled as Bourbon, claiming that they are the only type of whiskey which puts the spirit through a charcoal filtering process.

As a result they believe their drink deserves to be distinguished with a separate name. Other than that all Bourbon rules apply.

What is Rye?

Selection of Rye whiskey

Rye is the trickiest of all whiskeys to define. The reason for this comes from a historical naming convention for Rye produced in Canada. While you would assume Rye whiskey must be made predominantly from Rye mash, this is not always the case.

Canada has distilled Rye for almost as long as the country has existed, and historically the majority of the mash was comprised of Rye mash. But with no actual rules in place the spirit is now produced with a mash sporting a corn to rye ration as high as 9:1.

The only rule to label your whisky as Rye in Canada is for it to have some rye in it, and to possess the aroma, taste and character generally attributed to Canadian whiskey… whatever that is.

In American Rye whiskey must be made from a mash made from no less than 51% rye. The other ingredients commonly used include corn and barley. Same as Bourbon it must be aged in charred new oak barrels distilled to an ABV less than 80% (and like bourbon it must be no more than 62.5% when added to the cask).

Again, as Bourbon, only Rye which has been aged more than two years may be referred to as Straight. There is only one Rye producer in the world (Alberta Premium, from Canada) which is made from 100% rye mash.

Edit (April 23rd, 2013): There are some more 100% ryes being put on the market lately, but most of them are a bit of a lie. Nearly all of these ryes are made by Alberta Premium (or Alberta Springs, which is the same place) and are simply bottled and re-branded. The most famous example of this is WhistlePig. Remember: it’s impossible for a two-year old distillery to have a 10-year aged whiskey.

What is Irish Whiskey?

 Selection of Irish whiskeys

Irish whiskey is pretty much any whiskey aged in the Republic of Ireland or in Northern Ireland. Like Scotch it must be distilled to an ABV of less than 94.8.

It must be made from yeast-fermented grain mash in such a way that the distillate has an aroma and flavor derived from the materials used. (I copied that line directly from Wikipedia). You are free to use any cereal grains, but if you mix two or more distillates it must be labelled as blended.

Finally, the whiskey must be aged for at least three years in wooden casks.

As you can see, other than Canadian Rye, Irish whiskey has some of the most relaxed rules, which will create a larger diversity in the whiskeys produced.

That about sums up the differences between the most common types of Whiskey. As usual, if you have any questions drop them in the comments below.

Written by Sean Lind

My time is divided between writing, women, whiskey, and pinball. I give lots of advice, and coach men on how to reach their potential. As for whiskey, I am a descendant of Johnnie Walker himself, you could say it's always been in my blood.

Comments (279 comments)

  • Moyra
    November 12, 2015 at 12:13 am

    Hi Sean, good website, but as you are a descendant of Johnnie Walker might I be so bold as to suggest you use the correct spelling for whisky when referring to Scotch?
    I presume you are from across the Atlantic which is why you have used the American/Irish spelling, however, if you’re to be taken seriously as a whisky/whiskey buff, it would carry more weight if you demonstrated you knew the different spellings for each type?

    • Sean Lind
      November 12, 2015 at 7:03 am

      I have made the choice to default to the American spelling unless specifically talking about Scotch or Canadian whisky. In the Scotch section here the first reference is to all whiskey, thus the e. You can see the correct spellings in the rye section.

      That being said, I am sure you can find mistakes around the site if you look hard enough.

  • Evette
    November 11, 2015 at 5:11 pm

    Great article. I have just started enjoying whiskey and I am not as knowledgeable as some of the commenters here. But I would like some suggestions on what to try. I am not a huge Canadian Whiskey fan, but I have to confess that I have never tried anything other than Crown. I do prefer Gentleman Jack to Old no 7. Do you have any suggestions for a whiskey I should try neat?

    • Carolyn
      November 15, 2015 at 9:20 am

      Makers Mark is great neat but I think it might be bourbon

      • Sean Lind
        November 15, 2015 at 10:17 am

        Bourbon is whiskey, and it’s great neat. I am a huge fan of black maple hills bourbon, myself.

    • Kris
      November 19, 2015 at 1:33 pm

      40 Creek Double Barrel Select…but it can benefit from a couple drops of water. Enjoy!

  • James
    November 9, 2015 at 6:13 pm

    Great site Sean and very informative. I enjoy different whiskeys but have discovered I enjoy ones with a sweeter taste. For example Glenlivet 18, Jameson and Makers 46. But my true love is Glenlivet. I’m not a fan of the smokey peaty scotches like Lagvulin and Ardbeg. I heard that the Speyside scotches tend to be sweeter and less peaty in flavor. Can you recommend a few other choices that I might enjoy.

    • Sean Lind
      November 9, 2015 at 6:37 pm

      Thanks James. First off, I’m glad you want to get into Scotch, but I suggest you never buy glenlivet again. It’s not that it’s bad, it’s that it’s just totally average. There are a lot of better scotches out there. You want to stick to highland and speyside. Aberlour 10yr is your best bang for your buck, and two of my favorite bottles are the aberlour A’bunadh and the auchentoshan three wood.

    • James
      November 22, 2015 at 3:49 pm

      Thank you for the suggestions Sean.

  • November 4, 2015 at 3:57 pm

    whickey is not good

  • Lee Larson
    October 7, 2015 at 12:25 pm

    In the Beginning, God created Drambuie. Then he took a case of the stuff and retired into the Highlands.

    • Mark
      October 31, 2015 at 10:23 am

      Then He said “It is good…it just is very, very good!”

  • Frank Dominguez
    September 26, 2015 at 10:18 am

    Love reading your site and other peoples comment. I’ve been a whisky drinker for a long time and My first favorite are Scotch whisky but now liking Irish Jameson and Canadian Crown Royal but my favorite now is Japanese whisky Hibeke and Yamasaki. You are right whisky drinking is acquired taste, it really depends on how you started drinking it and how much money you can afford to spend. Some people i know used to drink the cheap canadian and other whiskey’s but now they have money and can afford the fine whiskey’s but they are still loving their cheap whiskey’s. I’ll go to there party’s and have to bring my own whiskey. Can’t drink cheap whiskey. Is it true that putting a cheap whisky in a barrel improves the taste the folds? I just started experimenting, wondering about this? Cheers! Whisky Drinkers.

  • Nick
    September 15, 2015 at 10:18 pm

    Good info.

    I started out drinking Crown in college and once I got out of the bars can started buying my own bottles I moved on to the good stuff. Which was Scotch. Macallan. So good… If you haven’t had that yet, go get some!

  • Joe
    August 25, 2015 at 12:41 pm

    Your info on bourbon is wrong. It can get up to 73 percent abv from what I have seen, ever heard of Stagg?

    • Sean Lind
      August 25, 2015 at 1:41 pm

      You’re misunderstanding that section:

      The spirit must be distilled to no more than 80% alcohol (160 proof) and be no more than 62.5% when put into casks for aging in new charred oak barrels.

      So it can get up to 80% bottles. 73% is 146 proof. When you put a whiskey into a cask to age, it will become stronger as more of the sugars ferment into alcohol. So a 62% spirit going into the cask can come out as an 80%.

  • Jane
    August 24, 2015 at 7:27 pm

    There are a lot more men than women loving whiskey. I do not why though! I love a good scotch! I do not know Rye or Bourbon but I will give it a try, why not? I finally found a site that can send samples.


    Thank you for this wonderful site. It is bookmarked.


  • July 1, 2015 at 1:18 pm

    […] bourbon, scotch too has a precise standard to which all must be held accountable. Scotch must be made in Scotland, good for the Scots! It needs to be at least 80 proof and made from malted barley. It may contain no added substances, […]

  • Nitin
    June 22, 2015 at 1:58 am

    @Dan Speegle: Should I ever be lucky enough to see/meet/greet/host you in my life, o Sire, drinks are on me. :)

  • Heather
    June 2, 2015 at 8:30 am

    This website was very useful. Googled “types of whiskey” and up popped this very informational resource/dialogue.
    I am new to whiskey but I am currently enjoying the Master’s Collection Woodford Reserve Straight Malt Whiskey. I enjoyed this at a party and liked it so much I went and bought my own bottle.
    I love it on the rocks…no extra water needed. As the ice melts that is all you need. What drew me to this whiskey is the color. Beautiful amber color and the taste is very smooth. I sip my whiskey slowly and let the warmth flow through from head to toe. I think that is why I am falling in love with whiskey. The feeling you enjoy while drinking it is unmatched.
    And I would love to take the trip described by Dan Speegle…

  • G Sesha Giri Rao
    May 8, 2015 at 12:03 am

    Hi Sean,

    This was a useful information that you provided, I just need to know that what should be the best way to feel the real essence and aroma of a tennesse jack daniels to have it on the rocks or as soft drink cocktails.

    • Sean Lind
      May 21, 2015 at 8:17 am

      If you mix whiskey with soft drinks, you’re drinking a soft drink. If you want to drink and taste whiskey, have it neat, or with water/ice.

  • J Foshee
    May 7, 2015 at 11:20 pm

    While granted, there are likely as many opinions on this subject as there are hangover stories – this is as concise and understandable to a novice as I’ve ever read. And that’s no small feat.

    It pretty much goes with everything I was ever taught, and with my experience as well. The only true absolute I’ve found in this area is this… The world of scotch, bourbon, whisky, and all of the other spirits that make up what we often think of as the ‘nectar of the gods’, is a wonderful one. As simple a world as we might need it to be one moment. And as richly complex, mysterious, and even historic, a world as we might desire the next.

    There seems to be room in this tent for all who wish to enter. And there is almost certainly a wonderful experience (and taste) awaiting each and every one who enters.

    To good health & better days.

  • Matt Dallas
    April 30, 2015 at 8:08 pm

    i was always taught that bourbon must be made in Kentucky.

  • Brit
    April 16, 2015 at 7:49 pm

    Great education if you read through the entire thread. I’m a wine lover but have recently developed an interest in whiskey. If one investigates the world of whiskey I think you’ll find that Scotch is “peaty”, Canadian blends are smooth but kind of bland, Bourbon is interesting, Tennessee whiskey is sweet, and Irish whiskey is sort of a combination of Scotch and Bourbon. But that’s just my opinion. What do you think?


    • Sean Lind
      April 22, 2015 at 10:13 am

      Hey Brit,

      It’s not that you’re wrong, because you’re not really, but that’s a bit of a simplistic view. Not all scotches are peaty really, but they do all have that scotch taint to them. Canadian whiskey is mostly trash, but the good ones are smooth (and kind of bland), as wheat is a pretty flavourless grain to start with. Now Bourbon and Tennessee whiskey are basically the same thing. You can argue that point both ways, truthfully, but they’re both made from mostly corn, which is what makes them sweet. And saying Irish is kind of like a cross between scotch and bourbon is decently accurate.

      Obviously you can find examples of any kind of whiskey to defy these generalizations, but it’s a good rule of thumb.

    • Karl
      July 24, 2015 at 9:10 am

      Your correct Brit, but Sean calling Canadian whisky thrash is so wrong

      • Sean Lind
        July 24, 2015 at 9:50 am

        I said most Canadian whiskey is trash, and it is. I’m Canadian, and there are only a few bottles worth buying, my current favorite being the Darkhorse.

    • vinodsinghbisht
      October 4, 2015 at 5:00 am

      I like singalmalt with on the roks

  • Jen
    April 10, 2015 at 9:29 pm

    Any good starter suggestions for a girl curious about Bourbon and Rye?

    I’m a whisky admirer who claims no expertise, but I do know I enjoy variety. I adore the heavily peaty output from the infamous south Islay distilleries, as well as the lighter almost floral malts, depending on mood! The almost sweet Irish whiskeys can also be glorious, but I have no idea where to begin looking with the stuff from across the pond.

    • CHris
      April 16, 2015 at 10:36 am

      I just got into Bourbon recently, and don’t have any Rye recommendations, but for Bourbon would look to Elijah Craig 12 y.o. for classic smokey Bourbon flavors (at 94 proof, generally considered hot for newbies, but not necessarily for someone coming from another whiskey) or Buffalo Trace, and to Four Roses Small Batch for a more floral nose and smoother finish. All of these use rye – for a taste of a wheated bourbon, I’d recommend Larceny (over the more widely available Maker’s Mark).
      Stepping up the quality/price ladder, I’d look to Blanton’s (single barrel), Four Roses Single Barrel, and the Pappy Van Winkles (if you can find it).

      • Jen
        April 24, 2015 at 3:26 pm

        Thanks for the suggestions! I think I’ve seen Four Roses Small Batch and Buffalo Trace at the shop near me, and Elijah Craig sounds like a good transition from Scotch (I tend to reach for Laphroaig and Ardbeg Uigeadail 70% of the time, so strong tastes are definitely good)

        I think I may have to use a specialist shop to find a decent range of Bourbon on this side of the pond, but with those starter suggestions I’ll know I’m probably not paying over the odds for something that’s cheap in the US and should remain cheap in the UK! (I’ve done a little digging around for Rye whiskey recommendations – apparently Rittenhouse 100proof is decent enough, but gods that is definitely a specialist shop buy over here and I can’t quite bring myself to put down more on a bottle of that than my perpetual favourite, Laphroaig. When I know it goes for a lot less stateside.)

    • J Foshee
      May 7, 2015 at 11:54 pm

      Jen, I am by no means an expert either. But through my own experimentation and good ol’ trial & error, it seems that someone’s own taste and preference can be an amazingly individual thing. The sheer number of possibilities is incredible. I have very little experience with ryes, so I’m no help there. With bourbons (what I’ve done that seemed helpful to friends anyway) is to try and help them find a good midrange label based on what they could afford and what was available in their area, and sort of use that as a baseline. And branch out from there in whatever direction ‘what they liked in that label’ took them. There can almost always be hits and misses along the way, but you will learn a lot from either.

      Very non-specific & likely very vague sounding I’m sure. Sorry for that. My own opinions – but on the lower end of the range, I learned quickly to steer clear of any Jack Daniel’s label other than black. Poor taste wasn’t as much of an issue as the next day repercussions. Getting what you pay for I guess. On the upper end, the finest bourbon I’ve found is Johnnie Walker Blue. Extremely expensive, but it honestly had the smoothest and most complex flavor of any label I’ve ever tried. I can never expect to afford it again really, but one CAN dream.

      Again, its such an individual thing its hard to know what to suggest. I do wish you luck though, and hope you enjoy your quest.

      • Sean Lind
        May 21, 2015 at 8:19 am

        Pedantic note: Johnnie Walker is blended Scotch, not bourbon.

    • Thomas
      November 11, 2015 at 6:15 pm

      I live in Kentucky and can call myself a true Bourbon drinker. Bourbon is truly an acquired taste. I would suggest starting with Makers (real low end bourbon). For the money in my opinion Woodford Reserve is the best. Also one can try a newer bourbon that is also very smooth, Jeffersons.

    April 7, 2015 at 10:10 am



  • Ash
    March 30, 2015 at 4:42 am

    Hey Sean!

    Thanx for all the info. I’m a wine loving female but would love to start on whiskey & have a “stiff one” once in a while 😀 Please do recommend which one should I start with…. Also, would you recommend Bourbon over Whiskey for a first timer or the other way round? While at it, please throw some light on cognac…

    • Ash
      March 30, 2015 at 4:53 am

      Oops! I meant to ask would you suggest bourbon or Scotch… for a first timer :)

      • Sean Lind
        April 7, 2015 at 1:53 pm

        Well, if you’re American start with Bourbon. It’s usually a little more approachable than Scotch, as some scotches can be very distinct. If you’re just starting start with some of the good, but cheaper options. Makers, Four Roses (small batch), and if you can find it Black Maple Hills.

      • November 4, 2015 at 3:56 pm

        no thanks

  • Joe Leonard
    February 28, 2015 at 10:03 am

    I am planning to go on a sampling binge, to get a better idea on what whiskey I like best.
    Any advice? And, although I know I want to sample Irish, Canadian, Scotch, Rye, Bourbon, and moonshine.. I am not sure what would be a good representative sample of each (I know I like Bushmills and Crown Royal. I know I dont like Jack Daniels(not sure if its because its a sour mash or because its run through maple barrels for added flavor)). Bushmills is blended… not a single pot.. and I’m not sure if that is representative of Irish Whiskey. Also, I would like to try a single pot, and I also want to try both blended and single malt Scotch?
    Any names you can recommend for good, cost effective, representative samples?

    • Sean Lind
      February 28, 2015 at 11:32 am

      Here are my suggestions (keeping them all to be affordable, but decent)
      Canadian: Crown Royal
      Irish: Writer’s Tears or Redbreast 12
      Scotch SM: Aberlour 10
      Scotch Blend: Johnny Walker Gold
      Scotch Peated: Bowmore 12
      Rye: The Sazerac
      Bourbon: Black Maple Hills (if you can find it) if not grab Four Roses Small Batch.

      Now moonshine is special, because lately there has been a lot of ‘shine coming available which isn’t really what I would call moonshine. ‘True’ ‘shine is strong as paint thinner and makes you kind of hate life. It’s great. I suggest grabbing some Ole’ Smokey Original or some Blue Flame. I will warn you, it’s as terrible as it is awesome. They also sell a bunch of flavored ones, like Apple Pie, but as it’s only 40 proof it’s not really ‘shine. But it is delicious. In fact, I’m drinking some Ole Smokey apple pie right now.

    • Mick
      March 24, 2015 at 4:43 am

      Depends on your Bushmills. Black Label (the commoner) is a Blended. Green Label is as I understand it the ONLY single Malt Irish easily available.

      • Ted mahoney
        July 7, 2015 at 2:47 pm

        If you want a GREAT Irish Whisky? try Tyconnel it is a single malt!! it is awesome retails about $40.00

    • George
      August 13, 2015 at 3:28 pm

      I like redbreast it’s a single pot Irish whiskey that is quite nice

  • Andrea
    February 5, 2015 at 11:04 am

    Hi Sean,
    Thanks for all the info. I read the article and truly fascinating, however, I was wondering how some spirits are labeled as both scotch and whiskey, such as Bell’s, their label reads scotch whisky. Is this because they have a mix of both?


    • Andrea
      February 5, 2015 at 11:39 am

      In the sentence “mix of both” I am referring to the requirements in order for the spirit to be classified a Scotch vs. a Whiskey.

      • Sean Lind
        February 5, 2015 at 12:26 pm

        All scotches are whisky’s, but not all whisky’s are scotches.

        Whiskey is the general term for any distilled spirit made from grain.

  • Jake The Snake
    January 25, 2015 at 9:50 am

    Why is there a beer in the bourbon photo?

    • Sean Lind
      January 25, 2015 at 10:32 am

      There isn’t… anymore.

  • Emily Taylor
    January 22, 2015 at 5:41 pm

    It still amazes me how wasted you get off of mashed grain and corn juice haha. Nice domain btw i agree, I don’t like men who do sissy drinks.

  • Tamara
    January 18, 2015 at 6:34 pm

    Hi Sean, Great info here, thanks! I am wondering if you can steer me in the right direction. I have acquired an allergy to corn, and, unfortunately, have an allergic reaction to any spirits that contain corn products. Although I have found an amazing vodka (Peace Vodka from Catskill Distillery in Bethel NY) I do miss my whiskey. Are there some other corn-free spirits that you could suggest I try? Thank you!

    • Sean Lind
      January 19, 2015 at 1:45 pm

      You can drink all whisky that is non-bourbon. So enjoy Scotch, and Rye!

      • Stewart
        January 23, 2015 at 6:16 pm

        Rye whisky still contains corn, legally up to 49% of the mash. Best to avoid that too. Scotch, Irish and Japanese whiskies are all quite different and will give you that whisky fix. Also some great Whiskies now coming out of Australia, France and even Scandinavia, so look out for those.

      • Sean Lind
        January 25, 2015 at 10:34 am

        This is the truth, I should have stated that you can drink all scotch, and rye (when it’s clearly labeled as 100% Rye mash). There are a few out there as 100% rye, the best being Whistlepig, the most recent (and cheap) being Canadian Club. The CC is good for cocktails. But if you stick to scotch you will have a great selection.

    • BP
      February 3, 2015 at 10:17 am

      Hey Tamara,
      In terms of whiskey, follow the recommendations noted previously. In regards to other spirits you have Tequila (agave), gin (Juniper), and I know at least Ciroc Vodka is made from grapes (Thanks P Diddy). (Being moderately observant of passover, having to find alcohol without ANY grain I’ve attempted the same research over the years).

  • December 23, 2014 at 3:53 pm

    This has been so informative. Thank you so much! Happy drinking!

  • Aaron Stuart
    December 20, 2014 at 8:30 pm

    Great, fun article man. Good work. As a man of Scottish descent, I really want to be a Scotch drinker, but try as I may, I just don’t like it. It tastes, to me, like rotten soybeans. Bourbon, on the other hand, strikes me fancy. I’m quite partial to Wild Turkey 101 lately, and I prefer it with a splash of water only.

    As an aside, my sister & her hub, an old friend of ours and I took our Harley’s on a four day Bourbon Trail ride around many of Kentucky’s distilleries, and what a fun time that was. We sampled many bourbons, probably too many to remember. I highly recommend this tour if you have any regard whatever for bourbon. We tasted Evan Williams, Jim Beam, Wild Turkey, Woodford Reserve, Four Roses and Buffalo Trace (and another couple I can’t remember). At each place, you get to sample several of their wares. Especially if you can take this trip on Harley’s during early summer, it’s just amazing.

    • Ben
      December 28, 2014 at 10:50 am

      I’ve enjoyed Wild Turkey 101, but after I bought a regular bottle of Four Roses the smoothness knocked me out. Of course, there’s 10% more abv in that Wild Turkey, but fuck it, the Four Roses won me over.

      • Sean Lind
        December 29, 2014 at 1:19 am

        Four roses single barrel is worth the extra money. I love yellow as my choice for cocktails.

    • Shaudetta
      January 20, 2015 at 9:45 pm

      I’m pretty new to bourbon but not to whisky, I am a Jameson drinker). I really didn’t realize their was such a distinct difference in taste between the two. Had a bartender suggest an Old Fashioned one day and I was sold on bourbon. I decided to give Four Roses Small Batch a go and I’m in love.

      • Sean Lind
        January 20, 2015 at 9:56 pm

        Now you need to get some Four Roses Single Barrel 😉

        Look out for Black Maple hills, it’s my favorite, and it’s pretty cheap.

      • Todd
        March 28, 2015 at 4:19 pm

        Four Roses is good, but for my pallet I can’t beat Knob Creek Small Batch.

  • Anna
    December 18, 2014 at 1:31 pm

    So, for a 25 year old Irishwoman who has never once had whiskey of any kind, where should I start? I’m also a journalist, so I feel I’m sorta missing out on something good here.

    • Sean Lind
      December 18, 2014 at 1:54 pm

      Well, to be honest, whiskey is an aquired taste for many. You may be utterly confused as to what all the fuss is about. In the words of Gulley Jimson “Whiskey, though bad, is good.”

      Since you’re both Irish and a writer, I would suggest you start with a bottle of Writer’s Tears. Seems poetically fitting.

      • MVP
        December 31, 2014 at 5:36 pm

        That is truely awesome advice!

    • Dan Speegle
      January 4, 2015 at 9:50 pm

      As a 61 year old recreational drinker, I would recommend that you go directly to the Jack Daniel distillery just an hour south of Nashville, Tennessee. They make a variety of whiskeys in Lynchburg these days, all of which are excellent. Do not allow price to be your guide.

      Just a few minutes from Lynchburg is the Dickel distillery, I would advise any virgin such as yourself to include them early on your tour.

      The next stop, if not a hospital, might be one of several traditional Tennessean restaurants in Nashville which employ our version of sommelier, who know their wines but know even more about whiskey.

      Only then would I abandon myself to the state of Kentucky, where young men try to lie about whiskey and old ones will not talk about it, whether from damage to their speech centers or due to the certain knowledge that anything they say has been said before by a better lier.

      As a last resort, given your Irish background, you might get your employer to lease a yacht, or maybe a row boat, and launch yourself upon the Irish Sea to visit the fascinating, ancient single malt distilleries.

      At which point you will either be dead, in a shallow grave of limestone, or you will have become one of the world’s formost experts on alchohol consumption.

  • Leyna
    December 10, 2014 at 11:15 am

    Your article was so good I’m kinda crushin’ on you right now. :) My girlfriends are all whiskey drinkers, but I’ve arrived late to the party. Speaking of parties, we’re having one this weekend and have all been tasked to come up with a cocktail or shot. I usually drink Malibu and pineapple juice, but I want to put a little figurative hair on my chest. Any suggestions or recommendations on where I should start?

    • Leyna
      December 10, 2014 at 11:20 am

      I suppose I should have perused the site a little more before I posed my question. lol I’m all good now.

      • Sean Lind
        December 10, 2014 at 4:03 pm

        Ahahah, glad to help. If you go with the Whisky Sour recipe, you will be revered as a Goddess. They are a fair amount of work, juicing the oranges and shaking the ever-loving crap out of it, but the end result is unreal good.

    • rum drinker
      February 20, 2015 at 8:32 pm

      I too like malibu and pineapple juice. I think I like zombies and spanish coffees the best though. Zombie (the way my friend makes it) is 1 shot of kraken dark rum, one shot of malibu, half a shot of 151, grenadine, and orange juice in a pint glass with ice.

      Best not to drink too many of these or you WILL be a zombie.

      Spanish Coffee at the bar down the street is a double espresso, 151, lime and sugar rim, and grand marnier, and hand made vanilla whip cream (I’m not really a whip cream person).

      My favorite rum lately is Smith & Cross navy rum. My friends think this one tastes like scotch.

      BTW isn’t George Dickel the person who taught Jack Daniels?

  • Layle
    December 6, 2014 at 6:42 am

    Hi I love whiskey and bourbon but have just found out I can not have barley so I was wondering if there are any that are made with out barley

    • Austin
      December 6, 2014 at 6:51 pm

      Did you have problems with whiskey? Being a distilled product, I don’t think whiskey contains the allergens that barley has. My boss has celiac disease and can’t have anything made of grains. But, he was perfectly fine with all the distilled spirits. I love rye whiskey, and some of them probably contains no barley.

      • Sean Lind
        December 10, 2014 at 10:56 am

        So here’s the deal: the distilling process removes enough gluten for the final product to be considered “gluten free”, that is the gluten content is less than 20ppm. I have never had an issue drinking it myself, but I do know a girl who has full on anaphylactic reactions to gluten and she has had issues with some grain based spirits.

        So I will go as far to say it’s safe for just about anyone, but not everyone.

  • Hari
    December 3, 2014 at 8:25 am

    Hey, Sean. I’m someone who wants to drink whiskey &appreciate it. I am moving to SW England. You’re website & articles are so academic that it is possible to know what we’re gonna be drinking & appreciate it, rather than just gulp the muck . As you said, whiskey may be made from either wheat, corn, rye or barley. American bourbon is predominantly corn, Canadian rye from rye, Scotch from barley & Irish from any of the aforementioned grains. Whiskey made from barley is tasteless, rye, bourbon impart good flavour. 1) So, do you mean to say Scotch does’nt taste as good as the others ? 2) Which whiskey is made from wheat ? 3) I am a beginner & in England, which whiskey do you think I should start off with, given the fact I’m partial to flavour & want to savour the drink slowly & get its real taste ?

    • Sean Lind
      December 3, 2014 at 2:48 pm

      Most Canadian whiskey is mostly made from wheat. Rye straight is made mostly from Rye.

      Scotch is every bit as flavourful and mighty as bourbon, just less sweet.

      I would head to a bar, try some shit, and see what you like!

      • Josef
        December 5, 2014 at 11:09 am

        With a name like Sean I would expect you would know that a proper IRISH “pot still whiskey” is distilled thrice, where Scotch is distilled twice. There is a difference. I recommend Tullamore Dew, Red Brest, or Powers (the most popular in Ire). I also recommend you spend a little time at the duty free area during a return trip from Ire and let the nice Irish people there provide you with samples and a quick history lesson. Well worth getting to the airport a little early :-)

        slàinte (health)

    • Jonathan
      December 4, 2014 at 2:41 pm

      Hey Hari I’m no expert but I do love scotch and if your looking for great Taste scotch is a great way to go. Some name
      To look at and try Balvenie double wood is great laphroig 10 year and glenmorangie any bottle of glenmorangie really is good but these 3 you can’t go wrong but no ice if it’s to strong just add a drop of mineral until you achieve desired strength

  • GrantinKY
    November 20, 2014 at 11:10 am

    I always enjoy reading these, most people screw them up terribly, you delivered a solid piece. This part cracked me up though,

    “The people who produce this spirit, such as Jack Daniels, don’t want their whiskey labeled as Bourbon, claiming that they are the only type of whiskey which puts the spirit through a charcoal filtering process.”

    Brown Forman owns/makes Jack Daniels. Brown Forman owns/makes Woodford Reserve, a well renowned premium bourbon. On the public tour at the Woodford Reserve Distillery, they show you a mock-up of how their barrels are dumped/blended. Step 1, dump barrels out and through a, you guess it, charcoal filter. The only thing today’s whiskey makers are better at than making bourbon is coming up with ridiculous ways to differentiate and market the stuff.

  • Jack
    November 10, 2014 at 2:30 pm

    Has anyone tried Japanese whiskey? Apparently, the best whiskey in the world isn’t from Scotland, England, or Ireland. It isn’t Canadian or American. It is, rather, from Japan. That’s at least the opinion of Jim Murray, an aficionado who presides over the World Whiskey Bible guide. For the first time in the publication’s 12-year history, Murray—who sampled over 1,000 different whiskeys—awarded the top prize this year to the Yamazaki Single Malt Sherry Cask 2013.

    • Sean Lind
      November 10, 2014 at 4:21 pm

      There are some very good Japanese whiskys out there, but I have only ever sampled Suntory (the brand from Lost in Translation). It was great. When I drink Japanese whisky I typically aim for Shochu, a more traditional whisky type spirit.

      • JJ
        December 12, 2014 at 1:37 am

        Shochu is not whisky.
        Shochu is vodka from rice, grain or potatoes

      • Sean Lind
        December 12, 2014 at 9:57 am

        That’s a little pedantic. I should have been more clear, but I figured when I said “whisky like” it would suffice. But shochu as as much alike, and unalike, whisky as it is vodka. If it’s made from barly and aged in wooden casks, that would make it a lot more like whisky. If it’s made from sweet potatos and is matured in stainless steel, that would be more like vodka. Regardless, I’m happy with saying it’s “whisky like”.

  • Dustin
    November 4, 2014 at 9:59 pm

    In my younger days I took pleasure in drinking whiskey till I puked unfortunately it has made it to where I have a hard time drinking it for pleasure. The only ones I drink now are the various types of crown and pendleton. I usually mix these with coke or sprite. I have also tried makers mark which was good though it was a little harsh even with coke. I would love to be able to enjoy the various types of whiskey again. Do you have any suggestions. Thanks

  • shawn
    November 3, 2014 at 4:39 pm

    Wild Turkey 101 for me everyday. I will buy a bottle of Crown for my beer drinking friends (pussies) when they come over for special events. We all toast the USMC Birthday every November 10th. Semper Fi. I was stationed in Fort Knox, KY quite a few times for armor schools. I wish I would’ve went to all those distilleries surrounding the area, however, I was too busy chasing tail! Great site, I haven’t read every comment…too many. Id rather drink me some shine and gobble gobble mofos!! Great site Sean.

    • shawn
      November 3, 2014 at 4:56 pm

      If you need another “man coach”…here I am. 15 year Marine combat veteran of 3 Iraq tours. I also build/work on motorcycles and cars. I’m a single man raising 3 girls and 1 son.

    • Jeff Hamlin
      November 22, 2014 at 10:03 am

      Beer drinkers are not “pussies”. Sorry to burst your bubble.

      • Brian Koch
        January 12, 2015 at 2:01 pm

        Hah, he meant it affectionately of course, which usually goes without saying.

    • Jami
      December 17, 2014 at 7:23 pm

      don’t know if Wild Turkey is bourbon or whiskey,but that’s all I drink and I’m a woman.

      • Sean Lind
        December 18, 2014 at 9:01 am

        It’s both! Wild Turkey is one of the bigger names in Bourbon, and bourbon is one variety of whiskey. I’m a fan of rare breed.

  • Tedd Barnett
    October 28, 2014 at 4:25 pm

    You’re wrong about “blended” bourbon. Any spirit that is labeled as Bourbon in the United States can contain no coloring, flavorings, or other alcohol. Furthermore, the laws concerning Bourbon are much more stringent than those that govern Scotch in regards to coloring, E150a is used EXTENSIVELY by the Scotch distilleries to achieve the color they want, as they use leftover Bourbon barrels to age their juice and most of the color is already in the good stuff in Kentucky, Tennessee, etc.

    • Sean Lind
      November 3, 2014 at 10:43 am

      I’m not certain about that. This is paraphrased on Wikipedia: “Bourbon that is labeled blended (or as a blend) may contain added coloring, flavoring, and other spirits (such as un-aged neutral grain spirits); but at least 51% of the product must be straight bourbon.[25][26]”

      The legal references for this are found here:

      • Michael Lazar
        March 19, 2015 at 9:40 pm

        You need to read the section you cited more closely:

        “…which are customarily employed therein in accordance with established trade usage, if such coloring, flavoring, or blending materials do not total more than 21⁄2 percent by volume of the finished product.”

        As there is no established trade practice of adding colorants or additional flavoring elements in any amount to bourbon or rye, it cannot be done without changing the identity of the spirit (i.e. it can no longer be called bourbon or rye).

      • Sean Lind
        March 20, 2015 at 8:09 am

        “Harmless” coloring and flavoring is a very established practise, and doesn’t change anything about the labeling of the bottle, as long as it’s less than two and a half percent. Then there is a list of other crap you can add, as long as you label your whiskey as “Straight Bourbon with this crap added”. While that techinically puts it under a different banner of spirits, it’s still straight bourbon, with straight bourbon written on the bottle. The argument past this point is purely pedantic.

      • Michael Lazar
        March 19, 2015 at 9:42 pm

        See also:

  • October 19, 2014 at 5:10 pm

    […] definition of whiskey, according to the webpage Real Men Drink Whisky, “is any booze distilled from fermented grain mash. The only exception to this being some […]

  • October 13, 2014 at 2:05 am

    […] type of whisky, along with scotch (made in Scotland) and rye (Canadian, American or Irish).  This site does a great job of explaining differences between the types of whiskey. Our tasting notes for the […]

  • Mikael
    October 12, 2014 at 2:17 am

    Informative article. When I first tried a drink introduced to me as whiskey, I believe it was a bourbon of some kind and I didn’t care for it at all. I thought maybe it was just that one label, so I experimented around with a few other bourbons and while they all tasted very different, I didn’t much care for any of them.

    A few weeks ago I decided to try Jameson on a whim, even though I’d long since written off all whiskeys as not being my thing. I think it might actually be my new all-time favorite drink. It’s not even remotely like bourbon, I don’t understand why “whiskey” came to envelope such a diverse range of spirits.

    The only other hard liquor I enjoyed prior to Jameson was a nice rum, which is weird considering rum’s reputation as being a drink unworthy of connoisseurship, and all the truly awful rum labels out there that try so very hard to keep that reputation.

  • October 9, 2014 at 5:19 am

    […] The difference between Whiskey, Scotch and bourbon on Real Men Drink Whiskey […]

  • Sarah
    September 21, 2014 at 2:23 am

    Thank you for the explanation. I have always wondered. And thank you for being professional about the explanation without being snide or snarky (in other words, coming across as we are a bunch of dunces for not knowing).

    September 20, 2014 at 6:48 pm

    Great website, Sean!! Came across this while drinking my fave, Balvenie Caribbean Cask, single malt Scotch. I was introduced to Scotch by a friend of mine over 10 years ago and haven’t looked back. Love the advice, love the comments, too. Keep up the good work. And keep drinking…

  • Andy G
    September 14, 2014 at 10:48 am

    Hi Sean,

    I was recently in the states and tried some E H Taylor small batch which was amazing mixed with coke (yes I mix my drinks!).

    When I got back to the UK I wanted to buy a bottle but it was going for around £90 per bottle online.

    Can you recommend anything which is similar to that but a bit cheaper?

  • Gloomy
    September 10, 2014 at 1:56 pm

    I would like to start experimenting with Rye, but I do not know where to begin. Any suggestions where to start? Basil hayden, jameson and markers mark are my favorite whiskeys.

    • Sean Lind
      September 10, 2014 at 2:45 pm

      For cocktails Rittenhouse is fantastic and cheap. The Sazerac makes a great Rye as well. For sipping I would look for any “10 year” aged rye made from 100% rye mash, this will almost certainly be a rebottling of Alberta Premium 10 year, which is the best rye out there. One company who whitelabels this rye is Whistlepig. It’s fantastic, and the bottle is beautiful, but it’s not what I would call cheap.

      Hope that helps.

      • Gloomy
        September 10, 2014 at 3:38 pm

        thanks. that’s a start.

    • BourbonzBest
      September 12, 2014 at 10:41 pm

      Sean is right about Rittenhouse Rye… One of the best Ryes you’ll find for the money, in fact a fantastic whiskey period. I consider it one of the best whiskey values out there. Tastes two to three times the price. My go to for an outstanding Manhattan… and love sipping it straight too.
      check it out at they do a nice job with bourbon & rye reviews.

    • Mike NJ
      September 19, 2014 at 8:57 am

      Some of my favs are Bulleit Rye, Templeton Rye, Sazerac Rye Whiskey, George Dickel Rye Whiskey, Michter’s US*1 Single Barrel Rye and of course Whistlepig

    • Buddy
      October 19, 2014 at 10:19 pm

      I too greatly enjoy Jameson and Makers Mark. I wouldn’t consider them my favorites but they are definitely high among my favorites. There are currently 2 rye whiskies that I absolutely love: Knob Creek straight rye and Jack Daniels unaged rye. Of course, any rye is going to have that spicy note or bite. The Knob Creek has a good subtle complexity of flavor & despite the spicy note is rather smooth with just the right amount of oak. Of course, the Jack Daniels rye is currently unaged as the name suggests. It is a brand new line for them and they have released some before touching oak barrels and they’re aging the rest. Don’t let it fool you. It is clear like moonshine and even smells somewhat similar to moonshine but the taste is so smooth and mellow you will be in complete disbelief that it hasn’t been aged. It is missing the complexity of an aged whisky but the simplicity is not a shortcoming in my opinion. I love both and could not choose a favorite between the two but if you are partial to Makers Mark you might enjoy the Jack Daniels more. Besides the Jack Daniels unaged rye, there is no other whisky I have tasted that I have found to be as smooth, mellow and easy to drink as Makers. Best of luck.

  • September 10, 2014 at 9:45 am

    […] More reading: The Difference Between Scotch and Bourbon. […]

  • corn
    August 18, 2014 at 11:44 am

    Corn is a grain.

  • Elizabeth Vargas
    August 18, 2014 at 10:49 am

    Is there any way I could get you send me some samples?

  • Jamie O'C
    August 18, 2014 at 9:56 am

    Hi Sean, I have an interview as a bartender for a whiskey bar next week, he knows I don’t have much experience with whiskey, although this site has taught me a lot already, but I just wanted some advice on a few things I could say to impress him.. As an experienced man with whiskey what things do you think I could research to impress even the most experienced whiskey enthusiast?

    • Sean Lind
      August 18, 2014 at 10:57 am

      Hey Jamie, You’re not going to be able to fake knowing bottles and brands, that will come with experience, so instead make sure to lean the basic lingo. Neat = served in a glass, nothing else.

      Now water and whiskey: a lot of people don’t understand when and why to add water. First of all you need to use water that won’t flavour the whiskey, so distilled or spring water is best. Some people will claim you should never add ice or water to whiskey, but just smile at these fools. Others will tell you how adding water will open the whiskey up, its bouquet and flavor. While that’s not exactly false, the truth is a little different. When you take a sip of whiskey and feel your tongue buzzing that is the alcohol anaesthetizing your taste-buds. You want to add just a cap-full of water and keep doing that until the buzzing stops. That way you can taste the entire glass, instead of just going numb. How much water will depend on the person and the whiskey, but anyone drinking a cask strength whiskey neat is probably making a misake.

      You should know that older doesn’t always mean better. For example, one of the more common brands of Islay Scotch is Bowmore. Pretty much all whiskey heads will agree that the best bowmore is the Bowmore 12, not the 21 or any others. My favorite bourbon is the younger, cheaper, black maple hills as well. Older is more expensive, but that doesn’t mean it’s a better drink.

      My final tip is that almost all classic cocktails (old fashioned, Manhattan, whiskey sour, sazerac…) are made with Rye, traditionally. People often use bourbon, but this is not ‘correct’. Technically a whiskey sour made with bourbon is a Bourbon Sour.

      Ohh, also look up the difference between blend, single malt, and single cask.

      Hope that helps!

  • Hasan
    July 15, 2014 at 8:33 pm

    Hello Sean,
    Thanks for this very helpful site. Is it possible to have a table with different attributes to see the differences of different types. This way, i think it will be easier to compare.


  • June 19, 2014 at 8:40 am

    Hey Sean, I found your site by asking the difference between whiskey and bourbon… I love the format and enjoyed your articles. Nicely done. I like Frederic’s suggestion of introductory articles as well. Keep it up man!
    Well done,
    Will (NYC)

    • Sean Lind
      June 19, 2014 at 10:06 am

      Thank you very much.

    • Krishna murthy
      September 14, 2014 at 1:27 pm

      I lovesingle malt whisky
      people you most try some single malr before you die

  • Scott
    June 12, 2014 at 12:30 pm

    Hi, I love the blog and it’s been insightful as I start to explore whiskeys and all other suspects mentioned here.

    Recently I tried a French Whiskey named Bastille and really enjoyed it. I thought it was odd to find a French whiskey which is what got me to try it. Any other suggestions for whiskeys from places you wouldn’t think of?



    • Sean Lind
      June 12, 2014 at 12:44 pm

      Try Amrut Fusion. It’s out of India, and remarkably good. Despite saying it’s a single malt, I’m pretty sure it’s a blend. But it’s very damn good.

  • Munnvar
    June 7, 2014 at 3:53 pm


    What is the best between scotch, whisky and bourbon when listening to blues?

    • Sean Lind
      June 12, 2014 at 12:45 pm

      Bourbon! The blues and bourbon were made to go together!

  • Kristin
    May 14, 2014 at 1:04 pm

    So I’m a big fan of New Holland Dragon’s Milk Bourbon Barrel Stout (imperial stout aged in bourbon barrels), and recently I have seen for sale the exact opposite: Beer Barrel Bourbon. I’m perplexed, as I thought bourbon could only ever touch a new, unused barrel. Technically, the bourbon is made correctly before it is finished briefly in the used beer barrels. Are they exploiting a loophole in the law by finishing genuine bourbon? Or is this akin to adding a flavor, which is illegal to sell as real bourbon?

    • Sean Lind
      May 14, 2014 at 1:16 pm

      This is an interesting question. Firstly, you can add flavoring to your bourbon as long as you label it as blended bourbon, and 51% of the contents is straight bourbon. But this spirit seems to be exploiting a bit of a loophole. It is aged in new oak barrels, and qualifies as bourbon by all the rules, only they are finishing it in used barrels.

      While this is adding color and flavor to the whiskey, it’s not added color or flavor.

      So I don’t think they are really doing anything wrong here, but it’s definitely a bit of a grey area.

  • Nina
    April 24, 2014 at 2:36 pm

    Evan Williams black label, neat.

  • March 16, 2014 at 4:05 am

    […] as Tennessee Whiskey and the aforementioned Irish Whiskey. For those of you interested you can click here to go to a website that will give you much more information, but for now that is about as […]

  • Bill S
    March 15, 2014 at 5:20 pm

    Sean, if one was to open a whikey/bourbon bar…what kind of décor what you expect to see inside…looking to open a bar that says America…Whiskey/Bourbon/Burgers…what kind of décor items would you expect to see in such a bar to resemble that feel/vibe? Thanks

    • Sean Lind
      March 15, 2014 at 6:33 pm

      I would want to see wood, leather. A darker place, good tunes not too loud. I would focus on the Bourbon but have the best burgers in town. That’s all I have for you.

      • Thomas Henry
        September 23, 2014 at 6:24 pm

        Well Sean with the above mentioned criteria I think I have the spot for you. If the road leads to Knoxville, TN, Stock and Barrel needs to make the visit list. I have no vested link, but if whisky and the best burger in town are on the list give me a shout and the Pappy is on me.

  • Teddy-Indian
    February 23, 2014 at 11:45 pm

    Hi WhisKeyDs, i mean whizkids :-) How many of you have tried Solan No. 1, famously distilled in Solan, India, specifically for the soldiers of British Raj. Just try it, and horse around.
    Love this site, and am now hooked. To whiskey funda, that is.
    Am calling from India.

  • Conan Bardwell
    February 21, 2014 at 7:42 pm

    there is only one whiskey – Jim Beam.

  • Reggie Blanco
    February 14, 2014 at 2:10 pm

    I was always told that to be called Bourbon, the whiskey had to be from Bourbon County Kentucky, I Guess that was a myth, but most Bourbons are from near there , Frankfort, Lexington, Loretto, Lawrenceburg and Bardstown. I have seen some Kentucky Whiskey that is not Bourbon. The only Bourbon I have found from Lexington so far is Rebel Yell which is one of my favorites. I use it to introduce friends to the concept drinking their whiskey straight or on the rocks. I can never understand the purpose of ordering a premium whiskey and mixing it with coke. I laugh at people when they order “Jack and Diet Coke” Jack Daniels went to a lot of trouble to get their whiskey to taste the way it does, why ruin it with diet coke?

  • David Kenney
    January 26, 2014 at 7:08 am

    Whiskey is NEW to me. I was having a Beer and asked one of my co workers if He wanted one. Scornfully he stated that He Don’t Drink Beer. He Drinks Whiskey. Everyone I know that drinks Whiskey claim Jack Danial’s is their brand. I tried a shot…. Well, Enh I thought. I was told it’s good if you have a cold. Needless to say My wife and I had the Flu. So I bought a QT of JD Tennessee Honey Whiskey. I drank most of that bottle myself . But got another one the next day. We was in a hotel in Waco Texas, Going no place because WE WAS SICK. I slept like a baby after the first bottle. I next bought the BIG Bottle of JD Sour Mash. I Sleep Very Well, Dream Vivid Dreams, and wake up Much earlier now. And I can function. No Hurting head. Well, I got Curious. and Tried Bourbon. ( what I’M drinking Now ) First Bottle. Oh I didn’t mention, I WAS drinking the JD straight . Not a thing added to it, not even ice. Last week I did 15 shots Straight in about an hour. Got Sick. Stomach was empty . My Wife mixed some for me with Canada dry Ginger Ale, the next night. I had to laugh, because I STILL Had 1 Bud Light Lime in the fridge from before getting the FLU. I popped the top on it today. Couldn’t stand it. Gimmie my Whiskey I told my wife Betty. I was still curious, that’s how I found this site. What was the difference between Sour Mash and Bourbon, then what’s scotch. I had fun reading all the comments too. The FLU is Gone, I feel MUCH Better, and I no longer like Beer. I Will be trying the other Whiskey’s . oh, tried Crown Royal. Did not like it at all.

    • Andrew Intellect
      February 23, 2014 at 10:39 pm

      Wow, you are a giant idiot. What a nasty fucktard you are.

      • Sean Lind
        February 24, 2014 at 4:43 pm

        Seems a little harsh, we’re all gentlemen here.

      • Chuck
        February 28, 2015 at 11:03 am

        I agree with your assessment Sean. Mr Intellect has proven the point empty cans make noise. I thoroughly enjoy your site. I live in the southeastern part of the states and your site has taught me a lot on the spirits distilled in this area. However, I’m prone to order Irish Whiskey (Jameson) or Dimple Pinch when drinking Scotch.

  • Small Grain Wheat
    January 20, 2014 at 3:06 pm

    I’d highly recommend stearing clearof some Irish like Jamesons. That is, unless you like a crashing headache. Jamesons is famous for it…

    But,that be said, why bother with scotch or Irish anyhow,when America has so many excellent brands. Even the cheap stuff like Evan Williams are very good. Personally, I prefer Knob Creek and Makers Mark..

  • brian t
    January 20, 2014 at 12:29 am

    I got interested in this subject after my father in law mentioned a scotch (I think) featured in some books he’s read by WEB Griffin maybe. Might be Famous Grouse.
    I think just reading about it makes him want to have it or try some.
    I felt a bit of that interest in some of my reading where Bushmills is mentioned often. Now I’m thinking of learning up on this stuff (nice site here and thank you) and getting started into a few sample bottles when family come out to visit. In Colorado, or at least some of the western mountain region, I think we have some well rated local whiskey’s to try as well.

    • Bill j.
      September 8, 2014 at 10:59 am

      I had read the same WEB Griffin books, The Corps, and thought Famous Grouse was something made up. If your Dad in law is a Marine he would have had to try it. My first glass of scotch was bought for me when I went into a hole in the wall bar in Mallorca where a few senior staff noncommissioned officers where drinking. Before I could back out I was seen by my first sargent who calls me over to the bar and ask me if I had ever had a glass of scotch. I have since become a bourbon man, but a glass of scotch is raised now and then to the first sargent. Semper Fi!

      • IndianaBlues
        January 31, 2015 at 3:05 pm

        Famous Grouse is one of the cheaper Scottish blends, a staple in every supermarket and off-licence (liquor store) and pub/bar here in the UK. Whilst not a bad whisky, it’s certainly not anywhere near the best of the blends, however they do now have a few other “Grouse” options – Black Grouse, which is more smoky/peated – Snow Grouse, blended to taste best if kept in the freezer – and Naked Grouse, targeted more at the premium blends.

  • January 18, 2014 at 5:07 pm

    Used to be, in order to be called bourbon, it had to be made in Kentucky (95% still is) and be bottled in bond, meaning it had to be aged a minimum of 4 years among other things. When you say bourbon only has to be aged for 2 years, you’re mostly referring to merely “straight” whiskey, although the rules have been relaxed. Sadly, a whiskey aged for as little as a few months can now be called a bourbon. Any straight bourbon aged for less than 4 years must still note this on the label. I still cringe whenever I hear someone call Jack Daniels bourbon.

    For anyone looking for a fairly inexpensive but very good bourbon to try, I highly recommend the 12 year old Elijah Craig. You should be able to find a bottle for around $35.

  • bozo de niro
    January 8, 2014 at 3:19 pm

    WOW — it finally feels good to be so informed on whiskey and not just buzzed on it — in fact now that I know the rules, I’m gonna make and bottle my own and sell it — so lemme see if I got the labeling rules down pat now — if I move to Antarctica, make and grow my own corn there, mash it there, sell it there, buy my politicians there, and label it there as genuine Antarctica-grown corn mash whiskey, is there still a good chance someone’s gonna ask me “Whaz the difference between Antarctica Whiskey and Liquid Wrench?”

  • Charlotte S
    January 7, 2014 at 7:07 pm

    My father-in-law is a big fan of fine bourbons. He was recently showing me through his vast collection.
    One of the bottles he showed me (empty) was one of Sherman T. Cooper Wild Orange Bourbon. He said it is very rare and, if I were to ever come across it, to buy it for him.
    So, I thought it would make a perfect birthday present for him, but it is proving more difficult than first thought to find a bottle of the stuff.
    So, does anyone know of a bottle floating around somewhere? :)

  • Andie
    January 6, 2014 at 4:03 pm

    First I have to admit I have not read all of the comments, so if I am repeating one, so sorry. I am a huge Scotch fan. I love this article of yours but my only problem with it is the lack of explanation of the different types of casking for Scotch. . . Not all Scotch smells and tastes like burnt wood. To be honest, I can not stand that type of Scotch. I prefer the Sherry Cask matured Scotch over anything. There are also, Fine oak (multiple type of cask) matured, Port cask matured, all types including French desert wine cask matured, etc, etc. All of which can give a rich, creamy, palate including flavors like chocolate, mint, spice cake, citrus, vanilla, caramel, toffee, etc., depending on the types of cask maturation. So basically, a good Scotch can be matured from 10 years to 50 years (or more) and moved from cask to cask to enhance flavor. I highly recommend looking into a sherry Scotch for anyone who cant get past the smell and taste of peat (like myself). You’ll be quite surprised.

    • Sean Lind
      January 6, 2014 at 4:58 pm

      Hey Andie,

      You’re confusing a couple of things. Firstly the charred oak casks are not what will give scotch a smokey smell and taste, that comes from smoking the barley, almost exclusively done on Islay malts. All scotch, to be denoted as such, must be aged in charred oak barrels for at least 3 years. Scotch does not use new barrels, instead it will use old bourbon, port, or sherry barrels. This will add color and flavor to the spirit.

      Very few scotches are matured fully in a sherry cask, they are typically matured in charred oak and then “finished” in a Sherry cask. You will see this clearly written on bottles of Glenmorangie.

      • Andie
        January 7, 2014 at 5:25 am

        Youre absolutely right. . . I was forgot to state they are actually “finished” in the different casks. And Glenmorangie Lasanta is one of my favorites. LOL, I guess what I was trying to say is that regardless of how they differ in maturing or finishing, they don’t all taste woody like Laphroaig (ghack). Even the Macallan 12 is very spicy and smooth.

  • Willy
    December 21, 2013 at 4:45 pm

    Never have been a scotch drinker. Much preferred bourbon. Then a couple years ago took a week+ to drive around the highlands. Got into trying whatever the local publican recommended. The locals love to talk about their area distilleries. One place turned me on to a graphic depiction of some of the better known distilleries. Check it out: Zeroed in on the SE quadrant of “DELICATE & RICH. Was also educated on exactly how to enjoy a decent single malt: a measure in a ‘rocks’ glass, swirl it, sniff it, and taste it; THEN add a couple drops of room temperature water and go through the same routine. Goddamn, the taste just explodes! The point is that I came away awed by how righteous this spirit really is. For what its worth (not much) I chose the “Macallan Fine Oak 10 Year Old” as. the personal fave. “Not much” as I’m a tyro and know one’s tastes change and refine as one consumes. Visited some distilleries in the Speyside district and came away with a true appreciation of this most excellent drop.

  • Thrasherj
    November 14, 2013 at 1:03 pm

    I like this thread. I have been a whiskey drinker since the beginning . . . my beginning back in the late 70s (1970s for the smart alecks out there). I started with Canadian Club and then found my home with Crown Royal. I recently stumbled on something called 40 Creeks that was very smooth. In my early days I tried Wild Turkey and was turned off to Bourbons. I have tried Scotch Whiskey many times but always thought that it smelled like vomit. I recently was introduced to the concept of “bruising” the Scotch but I have not found one that I could get past the smell. Bourbons are starting to interest me again but I have not found one that excites me yet. I would look forward to some recommendations on Scotch and Bourbon/Tennessee. I never considered Irish but maybe I should venture there as well.

    • Mark
      December 24, 2013 at 3:26 am

      I agree with you on the Scotch, it’s tough to get past the smell. I am a bourbon man through and through and have been stuck on Blanton’s for quite a while now. You should give it a try and see how you like it. It’s my “go to” bourbon of choice, though a little pricey, it’s worth every penny in my book. Happy drinking!

    • Josef
      December 5, 2014 at 11:00 am

      YES, you need to give a proper IRISH whiskey more than a passing glance. **Most** Irish pot still whiskey is distilled thrice, where Scotch is distilled twice. There is a difference. I recommend Tullamore Dew, Red Brest, or Powers (the most popular in Ire). Most bars/pubs in the US carry Jameson, or Bush Mills. Personally I’ll take Jameson over Bush Mills, but I suggest you try them all :-)

      • Sean Lind
        December 10, 2014 at 11:00 am

        I’ve had all the Irish I can get my hands on, and love it. So far my favorite has been Writer’s Tears… possibly only because of the name.

  • Fuzzy
    November 4, 2013 at 11:35 am

    Very good article, Sean. I was inspired to google the difference when asked by a coworker if I knew what the difference was. I answered his question based on a Johnnie Walker event that I attended in Detroit about 12 years ago. I was fairly accurate, but there are some details I need to straighten out with him that I got wrong …. many whiskies between then and now … LOL
    I’m surprised no one has mentioned Templeton Rye as an outstanding American Rye whiskey. I had no idea it even existed until I moved to Iowa. I’ve always dabbled in whiskey and scotch … purely an amateur I assure you … but the imagery of the rough old sage with a rocks glass of single malt and a churchill slowly smoking away has always inspired me to find my whiskey, be it scotch, irish, rye, or bourbon. I think I have found it in Templeton. a very smooth, and reasonably priced rye, that doesn’t require too refined a palate to enjoy. Thanks for a great blog.

    • Thrasherj
      November 14, 2013 at 1:05 pm


      Are you thinking about Ron White with the Scotch and a Churchill?

  • Michele C
    November 1, 2013 at 8:54 am

    My father was a fan of scotch. He drank it for 70 years. I never really cared for it as I don’t care for things with a very smoky flavor or essence. I prefer bourbon, specifically Jack Daniels. I started to drink it with coke but my dad immediately put me on the right path when I went home on leave. He lectured me on how important it is to never insult a good whiskey by adding anything other than water/ice. So for the past 34 years, I drink it either straight up or on the rocks :). My dad is gone but his legacy lives on!

    • Josef
      December 5, 2014 at 11:02 am

      I do hope your local bar-keep uses a single LARGE cube of ice to cool your Gentlemen Jack :-)

  • Kentucky
    October 19, 2013 at 2:20 pm

    Hi Sean, great article. I really loved reading this article and the comments.
    I’ve tried a Kentucky bourbon called Four Roses Small Batch, I found it a bit stronger taste than most of the bourbons I tasted before.
    What do u think about this one? Is there any similar whiskey (bourbon or single malt scotch) u would recommend in the same price range?

    Thx a lot!

    • Sean Lind
      October 19, 2013 at 5:31 pm

      I was drinking that last night. It’s great. I still suggest black maple hills. And it’s not obscure, but wild turkey rare breed is legit.

  • October 8, 2013 at 9:39 pm

    Great article. Short and to the point. Exactly what I wanted to know when I was searching on the subject. Thanks!

  • steveadelaide
    September 1, 2013 at 10:10 pm

    Wow!!! Great website interesting comments from everybody,enjoyed reading your various feedback. I was just enjoying a glass of chivas scotch and thought “what is the difference between bourbon and whiskey” as usual, google is your friend. Came across this website and thought can somebody help find or does somebody know what happened to “Sherman T Cooper”? I still have an empty bottle of “wild orange and kentucky bourbon” which I have had since 1995 and occasioally take out of the cupboard to show friends and share the aroma with.Just to enjoy the memory. I havent been able to get this in ausralia since the early 90’s. Any ideas? Thank you.

    • Sean Lind
      September 5, 2013 at 11:41 am

      I have never heard of that bourbon, unfortunately. So I can’t help you.

    • Remi
      November 9, 2013 at 9:11 am

      This rectangular bottle with an oval label has been discontinued – law suit filed in 1986 with a cancellation in 1998 ; owner N.H.R. FORSTER PTY, LTD. apparently passed away and family did not continue the business.

  • slowblues
    August 21, 2013 at 6:38 pm

    Hey Sean,

    My husband emailed a longtime hockey buddy who lives in Alberta, Canada about 5 minutes ago. He just responded. He’s picking up a bottle of Alberta Premium to give to my dad and will give it to my husband the weekend after Labor Day.

    Thanks again for your great help!


  • slowblues
    August 21, 2013 at 1:45 pm

    Sean, you are totally boss for responding so quickly!

    My husband’s going to a hockey tourney in Ontario the weekend after Labor Day – I’m going to ask him to get my dad a bottle of Crown Royal at the duty free shop – I think you can get a 750 ml bottle for about $35. I’m going to check to see of Alberta premium is available at the duty free store, too.

    Thanks for your help!


    • Sean Lind
      August 21, 2013 at 5:00 pm

      The standard Alberta Premium isn’t great, if you find a. 10 year plus grab it.

  • slowblues
    August 21, 2013 at 12:03 pm

    Hi, Sean,

    I have a question – I was recently in Canada, and when I returned home, my dad jokingly asked if my husband & I had brought any Canadian whiskey back for him. We hadn’t. My husband said he remembered back in the day whenever he and his friends would go to Canada for hockey tourneys, other friends would ask them to bring back Canadian Club or other Canadian whiskeys – although you can buy them here in the states, apparently for sale here, something else had to be added to them, and the ‘unadulterated’ ‘good stuff’ had a special sticker across the cap indicating just that – that it was the ‘good stuff’ and not crappy stuff made for the American market.

    Do you know if this is true, whether Crown Royal Reserve, for instance, or Canadian Club whiskeys are superior to other whiskeys (like bourbon, etc.), and whether all Canadian whiskeys are rye whiskeys? My only experience with whiskey is putting some in my eggnog at Christmastime or in Irish coffee.

    Great blog!


    • Sean Lind
      August 21, 2013 at 1:22 pm

      Canadian whiskey is called rye, but it is not rye. Don’t be fooled. True rye needs to be at least 51% rye, most Canadian whiskey is upwards of 90% wheat.

      Now there is no difference between the Canadian whiskey we make and sell in Canada or the bottles we export. Chances are it’s cheaper in the US anyway.

      The only Canadian whiskey really worth talking about is Crown Royal. It’s good. It’s not amazing. But it’s very good.

      There is also a great (true) rye made in Canada called Alberta premium, but you can’t really buy it here. You can buy it rebottled as whistle pig and some other names stateside.

      • Fu Dawg
        December 21, 2013 at 6:02 pm

        Nice article, but my good man, I must respectfully interject.

        “The only Canadian whiskey really worth talking about is Crown Royal. It’s good. It’s not amazing. But it’s very good.”

        You can’t possibly mean that. I won’t knock it as a stand-alone, but CR is usually used for mixing where I come from (unless we are talking about XR, fine 1963…).

        We mustn’t be elitist–Just because it isn’t made from 80-100% rye, doesn’t mean it isn’t noteworthy.

        Let’s name a few that you might one day try, and perhaps change your mind: 100% rye brands notwithstanding (Alberta Premium and Whistlepig [made by Canadians]) there’s, CC 15/20/30 yo, Caribou Crossing single barrel, Pike Creek 10yo, Wisers Red Letter, Mastersons, Highwood Calgary Stampede, and Forty Creek Port and Private cask, just to name a few.

        Surely you wouldn’t minimize or overlook the Canadian content to a simple recommendation of CR. That might be irresponsible at best, my friend


  • LFStJames
    August 18, 2013 at 10:34 am

    Real women drink whiskey, too. Thanks for the info on whiskey, very informative and helpful. Barkeep, Maker’s Mark neat with a water back.

  • Jaywalk
    August 15, 2013 at 12:20 am

    Bulleit is nice to have around or when low on cash. It’s a nice inexpensive medium and good for mixing.. though I’m somewhat of a purist and just drink it with water and frozen whiskey stones (frozen rocks.. don’t melt.)

    I’ve had a bit of an array of Whiskeys, and liked the Balvenie’s and Makers 49 (or good spendy Macallans when out on a fancy date.) …When it comes down to it… I am perfectly happy with Bulleit, Knob Creek, and Makers Mark.

    These are all fairly good, initially acidic earthy flavors with a simple finish, dry, but balanced.
    For people that have a bitter palette and love ales, pomegranate seed, dry wines, and strong licorice, this is where it’s at.

    For people with a sweeter palette, at least initially, I’d go try out some blended whiskeys such as the mid and high grade Jack Daniels, Jim Beam Red/Black, etc… You’ll have an easier time appreciating them. Alternatively, if brave with a sweet tooth, some smashed blackberries can be interesting in my personal, previous choices. Then there’s stuff I know little of… the Whiskey Sours and other mixers involving whiskey.

    Just a few thoughts… I’m a finger in on a low ball, and life is good.

  • Kate
    August 9, 2013 at 12:17 am

    Hi – are there any bourbons and/or whiskies that you can buy and then will age 18-21 years? I am looking to buy one for my partners first Father’s day that he can then drink with his son in years to come. Sorry, I am a novice! I am happy to spend up to about $100 for something really nice and I live in Australia. Australia makes a few whiskies but I don’t mind buying a non Australian one if required. Thanks.

    • Sean Lind
      August 13, 2013 at 10:07 am

      Sorry for the delay, I didn’t see this post. So I have good news and bad news for you.

      Firstly, Whiskey does not age in the bottle. Once it’s bottled (assuming the bottle is properly sealed) it remains basically exactly the same when you open it as when it was originally bottled.

      The good news is you can buy any good bottle of whiskey you like for this purpose and it will be delicious when opened. The bad news is that the only “extra” enjoyment from this process will be having a dram of a whiskey bottled over three decades ago. It’s fun to taste history, the whiskey will taste very different than the “same” bottle bought 20 years down the road. The only alcohol (at least for the point of this discussion) that ages while in the bottle is wine.

      So as for what bottle to get, just buy something good! If you grab a scotch get a highland or lowland malt (islays are not for everyone), if you buy bourbon make sure it’s small-batch. If you’re going to buy something to be special, get something made with care instead of made en-mass.

      • Kate
        August 18, 2013 at 9:29 pm

        Hi Sean, thanks for the advice, it has been very helpful.


      • Remi
        November 9, 2013 at 8:39 am

        I would suggest a Bourbon like Wofford or Booker.
        and for the money and for an older Bourbon 20 years
        in the barrel or 23 years – Papy van Winkle ( which are difficult to find ) and very pricey
        a Papi 20 years: $900 and Papi 23 years : $1500
        you have the other Van Winkle ( not a Papi) 8 y for $100-200

  • August 6, 2013 at 1:23 am

    […] Re: Whiskey I like Jameson. It's an Irish whiskey and seems smooth to me. I do like Crown Royal because most Canadian whiskey's seem smoother as well. Jack Daniels is okay. They have something like a reserve that I'd like to try. Jack is pretty decent and not too harsh. I've drank Maker's Mark as well. It's pretty good and aged in oak barrels that are rotated. Good. I still for some reason seem to go to Jameson when out. Well when I used to go out. LOL This site should help a little. Then you really need to try some and see what you like. Know your Whiskey: The Difference between Bourbon and Scotch […]

  • mc726
    July 13, 2013 at 9:09 am

    So,  I like bourbon as my drink of choice, sometimes I enjoy a glass of Irish whiskey, however in the company that I keep, they all seem to enjoy the “Scotch” single malts, ie… “Johnny Walker, Black or Blue, Glenlivet and Macallan.  My question would be,  is there a Drink that we can all share, and enjoy the same or at least be pleasantly surprised, by the smooth flavor over our palate, as I know that’s why they enjoy their “single malts. This would allow us all to enjoy out of one bottle, with out the need of bringing two sometimes three different bottles of different liquor to enjoy. Any advice or suggestions?

    • July 13, 2013 at 12:32 pm

      Well for starters. Johnny Walker scotch are not single malts. They make blends. But I have no real suggestions… Perhaps amrut. It’s an Indian whiskey.

  • jascook1
    July 1, 2013 at 9:53 am

    What is your opinion of Stranahan’s made in Colorado

    • Sean Lind
      July 11, 2013 at 12:05 pm

      Haven’t had the pleasure.

  • Ashutosh
    June 3, 2013 at 10:02 am


    You provide a good article about various types of whiskeys! A rather irrelevant question!!- There is a category exists in India- IMFL(Indian made foreign liquire) Can you give some idea that how they are prepared and what exactly they are?

    • Sean Lind
      June 3, 2013 at 11:13 pm

      I’m not the most knowledgeable on this subject. While I know some IMFL’s are made by distilling molasses, the only Indian whiskey I’ve had is the Amrut Fusion. And I must say, it’s bloody fantastic. Think of scotch, but a very vibrant bright almost fruity like cognac . That’s all the information I have for you.

  • t_mix
    April 30, 2013 at 5:13 pm

    Nice blog…good subject, but haven’t seen one mention of Pappy Van Winkle. What’s all the hub bub. The 23 yr old is $200 a bottle and you have to be one a waiting list at most of the liquor stores that get a case….per year.
    Saw it on the tv show “Justified”. Curiosity to taste is overwhelming….

  • Ted P
    April 29, 2013 at 2:02 am

    What do you think of the Jefferson’s line of whiskeys? Jefferson’s Reserve has been one of my favorites lately, have yet to try their rye. Any suggestions on similar small batch bourbons?

    • Sean Lind
      June 2, 2013 at 3:12 pm

      Give black maple hills a try. Their bourbon is one of my favorites.

  • JAY
    April 19, 2013 at 6:52 pm

    I do not know how many types of scotch Halftime has tried but as a devout Scotch drinker I have tried many and yes as there are bitter whiskeys no matter the type Rye,Bourbon,Canadian and Scotch. There are many Single malt Scotch whiskey’s that are very smooth and a great variety of flavors from peaty to smoky and some are sweeter than others, For the gentleman who can no longer enjoy whiskeys from oak casks I am pretty sure there are whiskey’s produced in cherry casks.

    • Mark
      March 13, 2014 at 10:18 pm

      I am by far not a heavy drinker. For years I have enjoyed tasting as many different beers as possible. I tried whiskeys many years ago but never liked any of them (at the time I tried them all straight).

      A few weeks ago though when shopping for a new brew I couldn’t decide what to try. Just for the hell of it I decided to get a small bottle of 12 year Chivas.

      Remembering how terrible I thought it was straight I decided to throw a few ice cubes in it and top it with a little water and WOW! I couldn’t believe the flavors that came out of it. Very enjoyable.

      Considering it is so expensive, I have since tried Dewars White Label and Johnnie Walker Red Label. Enjoyed all of them. Great flavors!

      Any suggestions of other Scotch to try and why? How might your suggestions be different from those I have tried?

      • Sean Lind
        March 14, 2014 at 10:03 am

        Okay, Mark.

        You have been trying and buying Scotch blends. This isn’t bad in itself, as some blends are exceptionally good, but a lot of whisky men will say you should stick to single malts instead. That way you can taste one malt and see the taste and character of it on its own. Think of it this way: a multi-tool has a knife on it, and is a really great thing to have on hand. But when all you need is a knife, a solid-fixed-blade knife can’t be beat.

        So here is what I suggest: get some highland scotches (they will be similar to what you have tried). Look for an Aberlour 10, or a Glenmorangie (I like the sherry finish). These are typically easy to find, affordable and good. If you want to try an Islay (the smokey, peaty ones) start with a Bowmore 12. It’s superb, and will let you know if you like that style of not.

        Also, I suggest you buy Johnny Walker black instead of red. It’s far better, and not too much more.

  • rgb65
    April 18, 2013 at 8:54 pm

    I enjoyed reading the blog and its subsequent comments. Excellent input and insight from all. I have been drinking rye whiskey since my early twenties. I prefer my whiskey neat. If it’s a warm day then on the rocks. Every now and then I try other forms of whiskey but I always return to Canadian rye. I find it the most smooth (and I seem to have a preference for that caramel after taste). To all those who have contributed to this blog I simply say ‘cheers’. A special thanks to Sean for initiating this interesting read.

  • April 6, 2013 at 11:00 pm

    […] recently embarked on a whole bunch of reading up on the subject and found this handy dandy article over at (cough) Real Men Drink Whiskey.  Here are my own (overly-simplified) crib notes from the […]

  • Scott Nichols
    April 6, 2013 at 9:01 pm

    For those who truly love single malt whisky, try Yamazaki, a Japanese SM made with single malted barley and smoked in imported Scottish peat. It blows away many of the most popular SM Scotch whiskys IMHO. My favorite for the money though is still Macallan Fine Oak 10 year old.

  • Jody
    April 6, 2013 at 6:20 am

    Hey Sean,

    You may want to update your “rye” section. Whistlepig in Vermont also makes a 100% straight rye whiskey. There may be others now as well.

    “There is only one Rye producer in the world (Alberta Premium, from Canada) which is made from 100% rye mash.”

    • Sean Lind
      April 6, 2013 at 9:57 am

      You’re incorrect. Read my article on whistle pig.

  • April 5, 2013 at 7:00 am

    […] same thing. If you want to know the technical definitions behind these distinctions, read more at Real Men Drink Whiskey. To keep it simple, generally speaking: Scotch is bitter, bourbon is sweet, and Canadian/rye falls […]

  • March 22, 2013 at 9:16 am

    […] See Here for the simplest explanation basically JD is Whiskey as is Canadian Club ( which is ka ka IMHO ) but they do not taste anything alike. Know your Whiskey: The Difference between Bourbon and Scotch […]

  • Jay
    March 19, 2013 at 9:35 pm

    Whiskey is by far the most interesting to me of the six base spirits.

    I think a good bourbon for beginners is Maker’s Mark. I have long appreciated how smooth MM is compared to many other whiskeys, which makes it more approachable IMHO. I have recently come to understand that the reason why MM has the profile that it does is because after corn, wheat is the bulk of the remaining grain, and that wheat makes a much rounder and less edgy spirit than does rye or malt, which form the remainder of the grains in most bourbons.

    I am also a fan of rye, however, and usually use Bulleit Rye for my vintage mixology needs, such as a vintage Manhattan or Old Fashioned. I am keen to try Whistle Pig, a small-batch rye which has some connection to Maker’s Mark (made by former employees if I recall). But I haven’t sprung for that yet. If you’re paying attention, when sipping neat, it takes about 7-8 seconds for the distinctive rye flavor to manifest in the finish.

    I’m so far, not such a big fan of the flavor profile of malt whiskeys such as Scotch and Irish whiskeys. Maybe this is just a matter of time, so I appreciate the recommendations here for more approachable single malts.

  • March 17, 2013 at 8:08 am

    […] straight whiskey (if you can’t find real Rye, not Canadian Rye, use […]

  • March 13, 2013 at 10:53 am

    I loved your post. Good content. I am exploring scotch & whiskey and your content is really helpful.

  • Wilma Jozwiak
    February 26, 2013 at 7:11 pm

    I’ve enjoyed these posts, and the tutelage on whiskeys. I am also very impressed by how civilized the posts are.

    • Sean Lind
      February 26, 2013 at 7:38 pm

      You’re very welcome, but I would reserve your compliment for my civility until after you read my series on sex. You might change your mind.

  • Mlsans
    February 8, 2013 at 7:35 pm

    I used to love whiskey, but found out a few years ago that I had become allergic to the specific type of oak that Jack Daniels is aged in—any idea where I can find out the specifics or if there is a non-oaked whiskey I should try…?

    • Sean Lind
      February 14, 2013 at 4:47 pm

      I am not 100% on this, but I believe you’re SOL. All types of aged whiskey are aged in Oak casks. The type of oak, old vs. new will change, but all of them use oak I believe. You’re stuck buying un-aged whiskey, of which I have no suggestions. I hope I’m wrong on this, for your sake.

    • Scott Nichols
      April 6, 2013 at 8:51 pm

      Sounds like it’s time for some good moonshine (aged in copper still for up to a few hours). Or perhaps it’s time for tequila. Now there’s a great distilled spirit.

    • Remi
      November 9, 2013 at 8:28 am

      For you Mlsans:
      Jack Daniel filter the spirit through a charcoal filtering process which is probably why you are allergic to this drink.
      all whiskys are aged in white oak or charred oak barrels. I would suggest a Bourbon drink for you thou…Try the bourbon “Booker” it’s 7-8 years old and it is non filter
      Booker’s is the bourbon bottled straight-from-thebarrel, uncut and unltered.
      It’s bottled at its natural proof of between 121 and 127, and aged between six and eight years. it delivers a range of smoky vanilla to a light tones of mocha and coffee.
      Let me know.

  • January 19, 2013 at 5:08 am

    Thanks, this is a very useful beginner’s guide and it has given me a few ideas (I am trying to write and article about Bourbon at the moment). Still trying to read up on the whole is Jack Daniels a Bourbon or not debated.

    • Boris_564
      February 8, 2013 at 6:59 pm

      Has anyone tried the australian whisky

      • jon
        September 30, 2014 at 4:24 am

        not corio! ARGGGH! it is not even good enough to be petrol!

      • jon
        September 30, 2014 at 5:19 am

        Yeah!it was when I was but a pup! knew i liked scotch but knew nothing! was on a train and saw they had australian whisky so I thought OK I’ll have a go at that! BAD MOVE! it was Corio I had always drunk scotch neat or on the rocks but even with coke corio was virtually undrinkable! I made another comment that it wasn’t even good enough to be petrol and remembered that this is an american site and thought I should clarify it…. petrol is what you guys call gasoline. i dunno if it would even qualify as pain stripper!

    • Sean Lind
      February 14, 2013 at 4:49 pm

      Jack Daniels qualifies as a bourbon by all standards. It is by their own choice (because they add the step of charcoal filtering their spirit) they are not classified as so.

      If they chose to put Bourbon on their bottle, they would qualify. They just don’t want to do that, to give their whiskey a distinction.

  • Kit
    January 17, 2013 at 5:48 pm

    An interesting read, thanks! I tend to drink a lot of speyside single malts and I’ve never ventured into the world of Bourbon, you’ve inspired me to do a bit of researching and tasting. Recommendations welcome! :)

    • Blue
      October 19, 2013 at 1:09 am

      Garrison Brothers Texas Bourbon. Or, Balcones. Look ’em up. You’ll find none better. And my family’s whiskey tradition goes back generations… we’re highlanders. (and please… we’re Scots, not scotch… Scots wa hae)

  • Jane
    January 16, 2013 at 12:13 am

    im working in one of the biggest liquer shop in abu dhabi (UAE) i really dont understand what is the different types of whiskeys and i keep on searching, reading to find an article that gives me all the information i need to know about whiskey. i want to improve my knowledge about spirits, wines etc.

  • Travis
    January 12, 2013 at 8:27 am

    My next question would be, what’s the difference between the different types of grains used? Everybody is pretty familiar with corn, but honestly I don’t have a good idea of what barley and rye are. I’ve had rye bread though, and it’s ok.

    • January 14, 2013 at 9:31 am

      Corn, Rye, Wheat and Barley.

      since you know what corn and wheat are, I’ll skip them.

      Barley is a grain primarily used in soups and stews in cooking, you’ll find it mostly in beef and barley stew. It’s round, dense, and rather unspectacular in taste or color.

      Rye, on the other hand, is very dark and tastes very strong compared to other grains. Because of this real Rye whiskey has more body, a fuller denser taste.

  • Travis
    January 12, 2013 at 8:23 am

    I was purchasing some whiskey last night and asked the person working at the liquor store the difference between two whiskeys. His response, “This one’s rye, this one’s just regular.” To avoid the risk of appearing foolish I laughed as if the answer could not have been more obvious. Thanks for clearing up the confusion.

  • dallas j
    January 11, 2013 at 7:25 pm

    hey sean i have been drinking bourbon for a year or two now and came across the evan williams old no’ 10 which is very inexpensive yet very good, and also the single barrel evan williams..what would be some others similar to there be good to try?

    • January 14, 2013 at 9:26 am


      I highly recommend the Black Maple Hills distillery. They have a cheaper and an older, I like the cheaper, it’s unreal.

  • Tanya
    December 18, 2012 at 5:13 am

    Hi Sean, Lots of great information in your blog. Now, I need help! I like sweeter drinks, like a lot of women I presume, and would like to try something that won’t make me choke to death! Any recommendations???

    • December 18, 2012 at 9:13 am

      I’m not the best authority for “sweeter drinks”, as I enjoy the taste of alcohol. I suggest cocktails, like my whiskey sour recipe you can find on this blog.

    • Nick
      December 28, 2012 at 5:14 pm

      Try a Johnny Walker RED label Scotch & coke, it is sweet nectar.

      • January 2, 2013 at 9:21 am

        You’re nuts. Red label is kin to paint thinner. I use black as my mixing Scotch, and see no reason to drink it straight, Green, Gold or Blue. Stick to single malts.

        Listen to the song, not the remix/mashup.

      • Clark
        June 8, 2013 at 12:39 am

        You’re nuts. JW Red IS the cocktail Johnny Walker. Its purpose in the JW lineup is as a mixer… Black is for drinking straight, you Philistine.

    • Harmony
      March 24, 2013 at 5:03 pm

      Maybe Try Jim Beam Red Stag Black Cherry. Its sweet straight over ice or with a cola. I’m reading alot about Jim Beam red Stag Spiced but I haven’t gotten my hands on a bottle yet.

  • Ron Jackson
    December 2, 2012 at 2:31 pm

    I am a HUGE a Irish whiskey fan. Jamesons is one of my favorites. Tried the 12 and 18 year. For a real treat I like Redbreast 12 and Middleton. Bushmills and Tulamadew( excuse the spelling) are good. As far as scotch I am a fan of Glenlievet 12..

    • JAY
      December 5, 2012 at 7:34 am

      I trie Jamesons as I thought it may be similar to the scotch whiskeys as it is a barley based whiskey. I find that it tasts very much like Segrams Seven instead of a scotch type.

    • Mike Walsh
      March 2, 2013 at 7:29 pm

      I agree on the Irish Whiskey. I’ve been working my way through trying some Bourbons, Irish and Scotch. So far, much prefer the Irish ones i’ve tried. Jamesons is ok, but by far my favorite so far is a single malt Irish called Tyrconnell. It was smooth beyond belief compared to any other i’ve tried so far and had a pleasant very mild aftertaste with none of the smoky-ness found in most bourbons and scotches.

  • November 19, 2012 at 9:09 am

    Bourbon has to be made in the US, has to be aged in charred oak and has to be made from mostly corn. Canadian “rye” is typically made from wheat, since they don’t really grow much corn up there. It’s rarely aged in any barrel worth mention.

  • Bea
    November 18, 2012 at 8:06 pm

    Thanks for this very clear write up. I am really trying to learn about whiskeys and I do apologize if this is a silly question. If Canadian whiskey is often made with mash with corn with up to a 9:1 ratio to rye, is it more similar to bourbon and would be called so if it were made in the US? But I presume that Canadian whiskeys are unlikely to be “aged in new charred oak barrels” as required for bourbons?

  • November 1, 2012 at 11:02 pm

    Drinking honey whiskey makes you no more of a bad person than drinking marshmallow vodka. It’s like painting a dandelion red, spraying it with perfume and calling it a rose.It is not what it was meant to be but it still looks good and smells ok.

    • April 3, 2013 at 1:18 am

      I agree, I love American Honey, but I still interested in learning, it’s like cigars, some people spend a $100.00 on on I like Al Capone cigarellos $2.00 f0r 2, may’be I like trashier stuff, lol

  • JAY
    October 31, 2012 at 7:29 pm

    I am a single malt drinker and prefer Oban and Glenmorangie. I find that Scotch has a very distinctive taste comparred to other types of whiskeys

  • October 28, 2012 at 12:14 pm

    I love American Honey, am I a bad person?

    • Chazwicke
      November 14, 2012 at 5:25 pm

      yes..yes you are..

  • October 7, 2012 at 5:29 am

    Hi there – thank you very much for giving the most detailed and precise answer on the question, I can now impress all my friends hoho

    I would say that after tasting many different whiskies there is a definite taste difference between scottish whiskies and the US. So different in fact I think it would be easy to perform the blindfold test.

    but once again, thank you – exactly what I was searching for :)

  • Terol
    September 22, 2012 at 10:41 pm

    As a new comer to the whisky(ey), bourbon, scotch world, one piece of advice I have been told and adhere to is “In order to appreciate a good drink one must task a bad one.” I think drinks fall into the category of their cousin (food) and (twice removed cousin music). No one has the one right answer that trumps all. To each his own. So long as your not ordering a “slippery nipple” at the bar I think we all can appreciate each other.

  • Ana
    September 4, 2012 at 12:57 pm

    I think you blog its very well written, but I think you have one serious mistake: you dont make any difference in the spelling, only Irish and American whiskies are spelled Whiskey while, Scotch, Canadien and English Whiskys spell with out the e.

    • September 4, 2012 at 4:17 pm

      Hey Ana,

      I actually side with the camp that you should pick one spelling, and stay consistent with it throughout your work, rather than jumping around. The exception being if you’re sharing a specific name of a whiskey written on the bottle, in which case you should always use the spelling on the label.

      Since I’ve chosen “real men drink whiskey” as my site name, it only made sense to keep the spelling consistent with that.

      Also it’s not cut and dry “Americans do this, Canadian’s do that” as there are some American Whiskeys which spell their spirit “whisky”.

  • Anderson
    August 30, 2012 at 3:39 am

    I stand corrected – you are indeed right. However i would suggest that a sherry casked whiskey is too strong for those just begging. However it’s a matter of opinion, and as i’m not that found of sherry casked whiskey – it would not be my first choice to suggest to someone.

    • August 30, 2012 at 9:00 am

      A sherry casked scotch is no more strong than any other. All Scotch is aged in used charred oak casks, bourbon, sherry, port etc. Typically scotches are only finished in a sherry cask, but there are a few aged entirely in sherry, such as the Aberlour A’bunadh.

      I doubt you’re truly not a fan of Sherry casked scotch, as the real characteristics will come from the location (Islay, Lowland, Highland, Speyside) and how much they smoke the barly.

      If you’ve never tried the Auchentoshan three wood you can’t say you don’t like sherry finished scotches. This one uses one bourbon and two sherry casks for the job. I’m also a fan of the Glendronach 12 for one of the best scotches for the money.

      • Chazwicke
        November 14, 2012 at 5:24 pm

        For an amazing sherry finished scotch you need to try the Glenmorangie Lasanta.
        omg it’s ambrosia.

  • Michel
    August 11, 2012 at 7:43 pm

    Hey thank you about your attempt to make things clear about whiskey. Unfortunately, to me this page just shows that they are all the same
    and the so called differences are just on age and different ways to do it.
    All the same shit with a lot of showing off.

    • August 13, 2012 at 7:57 am

      Right, since Pepsi and Coke taste exactly the same as well.

      • August 23, 2012 at 10:28 am

        Yeah, do a blind taste test of various whiskeys, bourbons and scotches and then pick your favorite.

      • swadesh
        February 18, 2013 at 12:54 am

        Since when Pepsi & Coke started to taste similar ???? I’m from India and they taste miles apart…….

      • Ed
        March 31, 2013 at 9:09 am


    • Anderson
      August 26, 2012 at 4:22 am

      Lots of people looking for recommendations here.

      Can I just pint out Whiskey and Burbons are not the same thing.

      If you want to start with a good “whiskey” avoid all blended whiskey’s – They used to be illegal in Scotland up until 1860 and my opinion still should be.

      You can’t go wrong with a 10 year old bottle of Glenlivet. It’s not going to break the bank and will give you a good grounding on what a good bottle should taste like

      • sean lind
        August 27, 2012 at 10:02 am

        You are incorrect. Bourbon is Whiskey, Scotch is Whiskey, Rye is Whiskey. Whiskey is the generic term for a group of drinks.

        Also Glenlivet is not bad, but there are many better bottles for the same price. In that range and style of Scotch I’d suggest an Aberlour 10.

      • Hugh
        November 25, 2014 at 3:05 pm

        If you avoid all blends you would miss out on Middleton Very Rare…. And while that may leave you with some extra cash I would argue your life would be poorer as a result.

    • Chazwicke
      November 14, 2012 at 5:29 pm

      first a dram of The Balvenie 12 year then a shot of Evan Williams Green label, then revisit your post :)

      • Doug
        April 2, 2013 at 11:08 am

        I was not that impressed with the Balvenie Single Barrel. I have tried the Laphroaig 10 and the Glenmorangie Quintas Ruban. Still have more to try but for now the Laphroig 10 is my choice.

  • Charles
    July 31, 2012 at 8:21 am

    There’s great stuff in your blog (just could hardly read them because of the font color) I saw a moonshine/whiskey recipe from this site they made something out of potatoes. Do you think this will work?

  • Chris
    July 23, 2012 at 3:36 pm

    I have a few questions for you regarding your analysis.

    1. Are you aware of the differentiation in drying the grains between Irish Whiskey and Scotch? I think they are important to to note as they are the driving force in how the whiskeys taste. Irish Whiskey grain is dried over a smokeless heat and gives it a more smooth finish. Scotch grain is dried of a smoke heat source giving it, not ironically, a smokier flavor.

    2. Is there any further information you can provide regarding Bourbons vs. other American whiskeys? It was my understanding that Bourbon was named as such because it comes from Bourbon County, Kentucky, and all other whiskeys made in the US were simply “Whiskey”. Your information about “Tennessee Whiskey” being the only geographically limiting American whiskey was a new and interesting tidbit.

    • July 23, 2012 at 3:47 pm

      1: I am aware, no idea why I omitted that from my writeup.

      2: Bourbon was named after Bourbon county, but no bourbon is actually distilled there any more (I believe). Anyone in America can make bourbon as long as they follow the rules to use the name. But the majority of bourbon still comes out of Kentucky.

  • July 23, 2012 at 2:46 am

    This is a great breakdown, I wish I’d come across this 10 years ago instead of learning the hard(er) way. Do you have any tips on good, unusual low volume bourbons?

    • July 23, 2012 at 7:59 am

      Just buy any bottle of good bourbon and add water until you can drink it without pain. Just make sure you’re using good water without chlorine.

  • Nick
    July 22, 2012 at 9:06 pm

    Informative, to be sure, but I have one comment:

    In the image of the bourbon lineup, the bottle farthest to the right isn’t a bourbon. It’s a Bourbon Barrel Quad by Boulevard Brewing Company in Kansas City, MO. Quad, as you probably know, is short for Quadrupel — a type of Belgian beer.

    Thanks again for the great article. I only caught the mistake because I’m a native Kansas Citian and a lover of Boulevard’s beers.

    • July 23, 2012 at 7:59 am

      Wow, nice catch. Clearly dropped the ball on that one.

    • giantslor
      January 17, 2014 at 4:24 pm

      I was just about to say this, haha. Also from Kansas City.

  • markku
    July 7, 2012 at 10:34 am

    Actually bourbon has more strict rules than scotch or irish. Of course only 2 years is shorter time in barrel than 3 years, but when you MUST use new charred barrels every time and when you are in Kentucky there is lot more temperature change in a year. Scotland has maritime and lot colder climate. So whisky matures slower there. Kentucky is miles from the sea and there’s cold winters and hot summer’s, so whisky matures fast there.
    Scotch has no rules about barrels, so they are usually used bourbon or/and sherry barrels.
    Also bourbon has to be without coloring. In scotch there’s no such rules and coloring is very common. Mainly because colour is so light because of used barrels I think…
    Scottish grain whisky can also be made of corn. Malt whisky is not only whisky made in scotland. vast majority whiskys sold is blends, made from malt whiskies and grain whiskies.
    Scottish can use peat or no peat, use whatever barrel they want. They can make malt or grain whiskies (barley or corn) and blend them whatever way they want.
    Bourbon has to be 51% corn and always has to mature in new charred barrels. So only thing that is more strict in scotland is that they have to mature their whiskies one year longer.

    • Nell
      July 16, 2012 at 6:07 am

      Well Makku, that may be true, but when one considers that the area in which Scotch can be produced is less than 1/100th the size of the area in which Bourbon can be (30,414 square miles to 3,794,100 square miles) one might contend that Scotch has the more stringent rules regarding its production… 😉

  • Ron
    May 11, 2012 at 7:30 pm

    I’m 57 years old. I’ve never had a drink of scotch or bourbon. I want to try them but I don’t know which one to try first not knowing what the differences are. Any suggestions?

    • May 14, 2012 at 7:58 am

      Start with a bourbon,

      I assume you live in the states, so you might as well buy a good one since booze is so cheap down there. I’d grab a bottle of Wild Turkey Rare Breed. It’s the high-end wild turkey bourbon, and it’s rather good.

    • August 23, 2012 at 10:22 am

      If you are not opposed to spending a little I would recommend for you first to be either Jack Daniels Single barrel, or Bulleit. In either case I keep mine in the freezer which I recommend as I’m not concerned with watering it down with melting ice cubes. It pours like syrup and as it warms the aromas are released.

      • August 23, 2012 at 11:29 am

        Bulleit is my mixing-bourbon of choice. I use it for any Bourbon based cocktail.

    • peewee
      October 7, 2012 at 10:20 am

      try DEWARS. its a12 year old blended scotch whiskey. for me the older stuff gets too sweet and the 2-8 year stuff is still a little too “high octane”

    • Wes do bxl
      October 18, 2012 at 8:29 pm

      Last year i went on vacation to the USA and i brought myself a bottle of Jim Beam black 8 years,its way better then the regular 4 years we have here and it’s so damn cheap over there.It’s not the best bourbon i ever tried but very good nevertheless.

    • Doug H
      January 17, 2013 at 9:06 pm

      i would suggest trying a shot of Knobb Creek or Makers Mark. both are by Jim Beam, difference is Knobb Creek is aged 9 yrs and Makers Mark is ages between 5.5 and 6.5 yrs. both are “small batch” whiskeys meaning the batch of only 1000 gallons, which fills 20 barrels, and those barrels are then mixed and bottled.
      i would also suggest trying a “bourbon of the week” – buy yourself a small (pint) of different bourbons, enjoying them in different ways (neat, straight up, on the rocks) and find which one you like and how you like it. best of luck to you!

      • miller man
        January 21, 2013 at 5:49 pm

        To Doug H makers mark is not made by Jim beam makers mark is its own company owned by the same parent company that owns Jim beam. Makers mark has its own distillery.

    • Ray
      December 29, 2013 at 11:29 am

      Little on the high end of medium cost is Macallens. Smooth and easy to sip. Glenfidditch and Glenlevit are good runner ups. Johnny Walker Black is slightly overrated and has more of a smokey taste

  • Marty
    April 3, 2012 at 10:29 am

    FYI, Catoctin Creek, in Purcellville, VA makes 100% rye products as well. And organic to boot. Very tasty stuff.

  • Siva
    March 5, 2012 at 7:28 pm

    I have been drinking the same brand of “Blended Scotch Whisky” for the past 14 years without knowing the difference between the others. I even swore that all other liquor is a waste of its time and money. But this article has brought in a certain sense or want for me to try other brands and forms of “whiskey”. Hope to enjoy the rest of them. Should I start with a Jim Beam Black – Triple Aged?

    • Curt
      February 4, 2013 at 1:47 am

      Jim Beam Black impressed me. I’m no expert, but I know what I like. Try it and see.

  • Melissa
    March 2, 2012 at 10:56 am

    Hi there-
    I stumbled across your website and I found it very educational and interesting. However, real MEN drink whiskey?? What about the ladies? Some of us love whiskey as well!

    • March 2, 2012 at 10:58 am

      Yes, my favorite ladies are whiskey drinkers, but you can be real lady without drinking whiskey, it’s not a prerequisite.

    • Jon
      June 29, 2012 at 5:49 am

      A woman who enjoys good whiskey is a turn-on indeed.

      • lzgirl65
        December 5, 2012 at 9:01 pm


  • Christian
    January 28, 2012 at 2:41 pm

    Frederic is right as beginners we need to know the difference in taste between lest say chivas and some other whiskey.Want is the difference in the single malt and the chivas ,we are beginners that like whiskey but spend a lot of money for others that don’t compare. If you reside to do a topic like[Whiskey of the week] email me. Christian

  • Frédéric
    October 3, 2011 at 10:56 am

    Your website is well designed and your articles are rich and of good quality, but I think it lacks of an article about whiskey for beginners. I mean what whiskeys should a beginner buy to make his own idea about whiskeys (what kind of them he prefers?, etc…). I think a topic named “Whiskey of the week” or “My first whiskeys” should solve this problem.

    Waiting for your next article…

    Frédéric (FRANCE)

    • Sean Lind
      February 14, 2013 at 4:43 pm

      I like your suggestion, I think I will do exactly this.

    • J
      April 9, 2013 at 8:56 am

      For another great 100% Rye whiskey try Dark Horse Distillery REUNION RYE from Lenexa, Kansas (Kansas City). It’s made from 100% Rye Whiskey. Add this one to the list as the second true 100% Rye. Check out their website, They mill their own grain and is family owned and operated by 3 brothers and a sister! All of there products are amazing! We visited for a wedding reception and couldn’t believe how beautiful the distillery and event space was!

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