Whisky, also spelled whiskey in Ireland and the United States, is a type of distilled alcoholic beverage made from fermented grain mash. The grains used can include barley, corn, rye, and wheat. The process of making whisky involves distilling the fermented grain mash and aging it in wooden casks, generally made of charred white oak.
There are many different types of whisky, including:
- Scotch Whisky: Made in Scotland, Scotch whisky (always spelled without the ‘e’) is made primarily from malted barley. There are several types of Scotch whisky, such as single malt, blended malt, blended Scotch whisky, and single grain Scotch whisky.
- Irish Whiskey: Made in Ireland, Irish whiskey is typically triple distilled and aged in wooden casks for a period of no less than three years. The extra distillation makes it smoother than many other whiskies.
- American Whiskies: There are several types of American whiskies, the most well-known of which is Bourbon, which is made primarily from corn and aged in new charred oak barrels. Tennessee whiskey is similar to bourbon but it is filtered through charcoal before aging, known as the Lincoln County Process. Rye whiskey, which can be either American or Canadian, is made primarily from rye grain and has a spicier taste than bourbon.
- Japanese Whisky: These are made in a method similar to Scotch whisky. They often have a nuanced character with delicate balance.
The aging process plays a significant role in the final flavor of the whisky. Over time, the whisky absorbs compounds from the wood, which give it flavors like vanilla, caramel, and oak.