Know Your Drink: Whiskey vs Bourbon vs Scotch

Whether you’re ordering a whiskey neat or on the rocks, whiskey is one of America’s favorite drinks to order at a bar. Whiskey comes in many forms and variations such as scotch vs whiskey bourbon, rye whiskey, etc.

When it comes to choosing a drink, there are so many options. But not all of them are created equal. Scotch, bourbon, and whiskey are three different types of alcohol that you might see on the menu or in your local liquor store. All drinks may seem the same at first glance, but they have their own unique characteristics that make them stand apart from one another.

Let’s take an informative look at these three popular distilled alcoholic beverages that are derived from different grains and tell the whiskey vs bourbon vs scotch story.

What Is a Scotch Whiskey?

So, what is a scotch and what’s the difference between scotch and whiskey? Scotch whiskey is distilled from malted barley and uses peat-smoked malt in the process. Scotch whiskey must be aged for a minimum of three years to legally qualify as “Scotch whisky” (there are some exceptions), which is another difference between scotch and whiskey in general. The whiskey gets its signature smoky flavor by being dried over an open fire or with smoke produced through burning peat.

What Is Bourbon Whiskey?

When we talk about what is bourbon, we have to mention that it’s distilled from corn mash and aged in new oak barrels for an average period of two years before being bottled. A key difference between scotch and bourbon whiskey (and other whiskeys) is its distinctive taste which derives from using rye as well as corn in the production process.

What Is Whiskey?

So, what is whiskey then? Whiskey is distilled from a mash of cereal grains, usually barley. There are many types of whiskey in the world, but American whiskey must be made with 51% corn, while Irish whiskey can be made using any cereal grain. When we discuss scotch vs whiskey, we have to consider a very different approach in the production process and final taste.

What’s the verdict when it comes to whiskey vs bourbon vs scotch? All whiskey is whiskey (technically), but that doesn’t mean they’re all the same. It’s important to know your drink and how it was made before ordering, especially if you want something with a specific flavor profile or taste.

Benefits of Drinking Whiskey Over Other Liquors

When it comes to the difference between scotch and whiskey, one may notice that people tend to go with the latter more often in the name of health benefits. Whiskey drinks, like whiskey on the rocks, whiskey sour, and whiskey old-fashioned all have many different benefits. 

  • Drinking whiskey on the rocks has been shown to relieve pain from arthritis better than drinking any other drink that is commonly thought of as a cure for arthritis because whiskey contains an amino acid called glutamic acid which boosts the production of endorphins, i.e. “feel good” chemicals in our body.
  • Whiskey old-fashioned has the same benefits as whiskey on the rocks.
  • Whiskey sour is also beneficial because it contains a lot of vitamin C and a protein called cysteine, which helps prevent hair loss, but only in women.
  • Lastly, not only does whiskey Irish coffee give you an energy boost from caffeine but it’s also proven to provide pain relief for headaches due to the whiskey content.

There is no such thing as bad whiskey because different whiskeys will taste differently depending on what type of grains they were made from, as mentioned when we discussed what is a scotch and what is bourbon previously.

  • Whiskey has been used in recipes and to cure many ailments since the drink was discovered.
  • Whiskey can be used in many different cooking recipes, from bread to salad dressings.

It seems that there’s a lot more to what is whiskey than meets the eye!

How to Drink It Properly  

There are many ways to drink whiskey that you may enjoy, including the possibility to play a switch game when it comes to scotch vs whiskey as the main ingredient.

  • Whiskey on the rocks – mix whiskey with ice, water, and sugar or honey to taste
  • Whiskey straight up – pour whiskey without any additions into a small glass or tumbler filled with large cubes of ice (never use cracked/chipped ice), then add an equal amount of cold water; stir well, and drink neat
  • Whiskey sour – mix whiskey with lemon juice, sugar, and egg white
  • Whiskey old-fashioned – made by adding bourbon whiskey to a sugar cube or teaspoon of superfine (caster) sugar that has been doused in bitters and stirred until dissolved; then add ice cubes, stirring well before straining the drink into a whiskey glass.
  • Whiskey Manhattan – made by adding whiskey to sweet vermouth, which has been doused in bitters and stirred until dissolved; then add ice cubes, stirring well before straining the drink into a whiskey tumbler or whisky highball.
  • Whiskey scotch sour – mix scotch whiskey with lemon juice, sugar, and egg white
  • Whiskey nocino – made by adding whiskey to the mixture of coffee beans soaked in grape brandy for a few days; then stir well before straining into an old-fashioned glass or whiskey tumbler on ice.
  • Whiskey Irish coffee – mix whiskey with hot coffee and sugar or honey to taste, then add ice cubes.
  • Whiskey ginger – mix whiskey with hot water and a teaspoon of powdered ginger until dissolved; pour into an old-fashioned glass filled with ice cubes.

The History: Whiskey vs Bourbon vs Scotch

The history behind the three types of whiskey goes back to the 18th century. Bourbon whiskey was first created in the US without many regulations, while scotch whiskey is made by distilling malted barley over peat fires (peat is a type of soil), and rye whiskey must be distilled from at least 51% rye grain.

The history behind bourbon whiskey starts with how it’s spelled – “bourbon whiskey” is spelled the way it is because it was first distilled in Bourbon County, which at that time (1789) happened to be part of Virginia.

The story behind scotch whiskey starts with malted barley which has been used for centuries as a key ingredient for scotch.

Rye whiskey’s history starts in Pennsylvania, where whiskey was made from rye grain.

The one ingredient whiskey makers can’t use is sugar – this has been banned since the 1800s because it would have caused a shortage of molasses for rum producers.

The history of the different types of liquors is fascinating, and it’s not too hard to see why people have a preference for one or the other. It may be difficult at first, but once you get into drinking whiskey neat (straight up), on the rocks (with ice), or with club soda, you’ll never go back!

Now, if you’re looking to taste the difference between these similar yet not quite the same whiskey drinks, you’re welcome to Root & Bone. At our restaurant, you can relax and unwind after a long day and enjoy the delicacies that we have to offer on our menu – food, drinks, or both. We at Root & Bone are positive that the pleasant atmosphere together with the amazing offers we carry will definitely prove to be the perfect addition to some quality me time as well as group settings.