Irish whiskey vs Scotch whisky

Updated: 24/12/2020
2 mins read
Irish whiskey vs Scotch whisky

You have probably heard of scotch whiskey. You may have even heard of Irish Whiskey. However, you may not know what the difference is other than where each drink originates from. 

Although the two types of whiskey are similar in many respects, in others, they are entirely different. 

We’ll take a look at what exactly these differences are and how you can tell an Irish whiskey from a Scotch Whisky

Scotch whisky is spelled without an ‘e.’

You may have always wondered why there were typos when we refer to Scotch whisky. But the fact of the matter is that Scotch whisky is spelled differently to other types of whiskey

Irish whiskey is spelled using the ‘e.’

Irish whiskey is made from unmalted barley.

Although both whiskeys are made using barley, Irish whiskey is made using unmalted barley. This helps to give it its signature smooth flavor with hints of vanilla. 

In contrast, scotch is from malted barley. This gives it a fuller and more decadent taste. 

Scotch and Irish whiskeys both use oak casks.

Although there are differences in parts of the processes associated with making scotch whisky and Irish whiskey, there are some similarities. One such similarity is that both types of whiskey are left to age using oak casks. 

These can have a profound effect on the flavor of the whiskey in question. Many of these casks will have been used previously for holding and aging other drinks. 

For instance, a whiskey aged in a barrel previously used for Sherry may have a fruity or spicier taste.

In contrast, a whiskey aged in a cask previously used for bourbon may have a sweeter flavor. 

Both types of whiskey are left to age in their barrels for at least three years. 

Scotch whisky is double distilled. 

In Scotch production, the whisky is double distilled using a wide variety of copper pot stills. 

It is much more common for whiskey to be triple distilled in Irish whiskey. This difference in the distillation process makes a significant impact on the flavor of the whiskey. 

Irish whiskey came first. 

It’s believed that the first-ever whiskey was distilled in the 12th century by Irish monks, and the process has evolved over time. It first started as a pastime but soon became the industry we all love. 

Scotch whiskey wasn’t too far behind the Irish, and by the early 1800s, scotch had taken the lead in popularity. 

The unmalted barley in Irish whiskey is of historical significance as there used to be a ‘malt tax’ in Ireland. This led to whiskey distillers adopting unmalted barley in their recipes as the main ingredient. Even after the tax was repealed, unmalted barley was still used.

Ashleigh Cain

Ashleigh is a key part of the editorial team at Whiskey Rocks. You'll often find her either writing educational articles or reviewing the latest artisan whiskeys. Her favorite drink? Ashleigh loves smokey scotches like Laphroaig, but you'll also often find her with an old fashioned in hand.

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