Whiskey (also spelled whisky) is an alcoholic beverage distilled from grain, which may or may not have been malted. Scotch is whisky made in Scotland and aged in oak barrels for at least three years.

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Scotch versus Whiskey comparison chart
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Terminology Type of distilled alcoholic beverage, also called Scotch Whisky, made only in Scotland. To be clear, all Scotch is Whisky, but not all Whisky is Scotch. Type of distilled alcoholic beverage made in other parts of the world
Grains used Originally made from malted barley only. In the 18th century commercial distilleries began introducing whisky made from wheat and rye whole grains, not malted. Barley, malted barley, rye, malted rye, wheat, and corn.
Uniqueness Producers 'malt' the barley grain to turn the starch into sugar prior to fermenting, giving Scotch its distinctive smooth flavor. Some use peat which adds a smokey taste. Tennessee whiskey is filtered through sugar maple charcoal. Unpeated malt is almost always used in an Irish whiskey. In a Japanese whiskey malted barley is dried in kilns fired with a little peat
Maturation Oak casks, can have contained spirits or wine before such as sherry or bourbon (90% of all casks used in Scotland). Charred white oak.
Price Although price varies greatly by brand, age and type, scotch is generally more expensive than whiskey. Although price varies greatly by brand, age and type, whiskey is generally less expensive than Scotch.
Spelling: whisky or whiskey? Spelt as Whisky The spelling whisky (plural: whiskies) is generally used in Canada, Japan, and Wales. Ireland uses the spelling whiskey. US uses both.


Whisky or whisky-like products are produced in most grain-growing areas. They differ in base product, alcoholic content, and quality. Many countries like America, Australia, Canada, Denmark, England, Finland, Germany, India, Ireland, Japan, Sweden, and Wales produce their own whiskies.

Scotch bottles on display in a bar.
Scotch bottles on display in a bar.

Scotch is produced from any of the following regions of Scotland:

The Islands, an unrecognized sub-region includes all of the whisky-producing islands (but excludes Islay): Arran, Jura, Mull, Orkney and Skye - with their respective distilleries: Arran, Isle of Jura, Tobermory, Highland Park and Scapa, and Talisker.

Video Explaining the Differences

In this video, Rebecca Dunphy of Sniff and Spit differentiates between Scotch, Irish, and bourbon whiskey by sniffing.

Single Malt vs. Blended Whisky

Writing for the BBC, travel Brad Cohen explains the difference between blended and single-malt whisky:

Blended whisky, which comprises more than 80% of the market, including brands like Johnnie Walker and Dewars, is a mix o­f malt and grain whiskies that come from multiple distilleries. Single malt, which Scottish drinkers often refer to as malt rather than whisky (and never Scotch, like it’s known elsewhere around the world, is whisky created from malted barley at one distillery).

Ordering Whisky in Scotland

The first rule of ordering whisky in Scotland is to never call it Scotch. It's whisky when it's blended and malt when it's single-malt. When ordering malt, it's a faux pas to order it on the rocks because ice numbs the tongue and does not let you appreciate the flavor of the whisky. You can drink malt neat or with a drop of water. Ordering it with Coke, of course, is also a terrible idea.


The process for making Scotch or whiskey is:

  1. fermentation of grains,
  2. distillation, and
  3. aging in wooden barrels.

For Whiskey, different grains are used for different varieties, including barley, malted barley, rye, malted rye, wheat, and corn. Aging may be done in oak barrels like charred white oak.

Traditionally, Scotch was made from only malted barley, which is first dried over fires that have been stoked with dried peat (a form of compacted grass and heather compost that is harvested from the moors). The peat smoke adds a distinctive smoky tang to the taste of the malt whisky.

Now other grains are also used in the process of making Scotch, and not all malted barley is dried by peat fire method. Aging is generally done in casks that have spent their first life holding sherry or bourbon.


There are two basic types of Whiskies,

Malts and grains are combined in various ways,

There are two basic types of Scotch whisky, from which all blends are made:

Three types of blends are defined for Scotch whisky

Here are some interesting and informational videos:


Prices vary by brand, age and type. In general, Scotch is more expensive than whiskey.

You can find the current prices on Amazon:


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