Scotch vs. whiskey

21/11/2020
Updated: 24/12/2020
2 mins read
Scotch vs. whiskey

Scotch is one of the most famous types of whiskey in the world.  It has been made for over five hundred years, and there are laws specifying how Scotch Whisky is made and what exactly defines it. 

And yes, you read that right, we can’t compare scotch to whiskey, as Scotch is actually just one of the many types of whiskey available.

But where does scotch come from, and how exactly is it different from other types of whiskey? 

Read on to find out what sets Scotch apart from other whiskey types.

Scotch is made explicitly in Scotland.

All scotch is whisky, but not all whiskey is scotch. Scotch refers explicitly to whisky that is distilled and made in Scotland. If it is not made in Scotland, then it is essential to point out that it is not actually a scotch! 

There are several criteria associated with scotch. Before we talk about them, there is an important point to clear up. 

The first thing to point out with scotch is that ‘whisky’ is spelled without the ‘e’. Scotland is not the only country to not have an ‘e’ in their spelling of the word; Canadian and Japanese whisky is also spelled the same way, 

It is one of the most popular spirits, with 1,9 billion bottles being produced each year and sent to 180 different countries.

Scotch is made using malted barley.

The production of Scotch whisky starts off with barley being steeped in water and spread over the malting floor, allowing it to germinate.  This turns the starch in the barley into sugars, which creates alcohol when mixed with yeast. 

Sometimes the barley is dried over peat - this will give the whisky a smoky flavor. 

After it has dried, the malt is ground up into a coarse flour called ‘grist.’ It is then mixed with hot spring water in a ‘mash tun.’

Scotch needs to be aged for three years.

Whisky production is serious business in Scotland. The whisky must be allowed to age for at least three years in an oak barrel. This is a requirement. 

Each bottle needs to have information displayed on it about the whisky age and where a blend of whiskies have been used; it is the youngest aged whisky that is used. 

Scotch comes in five varieties. 

There are five different varieties of scotch, these are: 

  • Single malt Scotch whisky
  • Single grain Scotch whisky
  • Blended malt Scotch whisky (formerly called "vatted malt" or "pure malt")
  • Blended grain Scotch whisky
  • Blended Scotch whisky

Single malt whisky is made from a single batch of scotch from just one distillery. 

A blended whisky can contain a mixture of different whiskies. 

Scotch is usually 40% ABV.

Typically, scotch is 40%- 46% ABV (alcohol by volume).  The minimum ABV for scotch whisky is 40%.

By 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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