Three drinks that have a similar flavor and are often confused when spoken about are Scotch, Whiskey, and Bourbon. The simple answer is that Scottish whisky can only be made in Scotland is not quite definitive enough, and that Scottish whisky does not contain an e does not fully describe the differences.

So, to start to try and differentiate between these beverages perhaps it is wise to look at bourbon and whiskey.

What Separates Bourbon from Whiskey

The biggest factor that separates bourbon from whiskey is that of the law. To make bourbon the producer has to follow a stringent list of criteria. The Federal Standards of Identity for Bourbon lays down certain criteria that is common to all bourbon.

Bourbon must be made out of at least fifty one percent corn, with the other elements of the mash containing rye, wheat, or malted barley. Then the mixture must be distilled at 160 proof and laid down in charred oak barrels that are 125 proof, and under no circumstances must any additives be included.

American whiskey does not have to follow these strict guidelines and can contain additives and be made from a number of ingredients.

Scotch v Whiskey

As touched on briefly before, Scottish whisky or scotch as it is popularly called, can only be made in Scotland following the country’s governing rules for production. The spelling of whisky without an e is also one of the differences also. Bourbon is whiskey made in America, mostly in Kentucky and made out of primarily corn. Whereas scotch is made out of malted barley.


To throw a curved ball into the whole equation there is also rye, and this drink can refer to American rye whiskey or Canadian whiskey. To confuse matters even more, Canadian whiskey does not have to contain any rye whatsoever.

The Different Colors

Whisky, Whiskey, and Bourbon can all come in different shades and colors. Scottish whisky basically comes in two general formats, single-malt or blended. The term single-malt is rather misleading, what this means is that the drink comes from a single distillery, and it is not the product of a single batch or barrel. For instance, a single-malt Glenlivet scotch may come from many different barrels.

Blended whisky is a drink made of two or more whiskies that are mixed together, often perceived as a lesser beverage there are some excellent blended whiskies that can be found.

American whiskey is normally differentiated by age, the oldest being the perceived best. And the aging process is usually in different kinds of barrels. It is this aging process that in part provides the color of a bourbon or a whiskey. Usually older bourbons have a deeper color than younger ones, that hint at a richer flavors.

Single-malt whiskies are often pale in color, almost like straw unless they too have been aged in sherry barrels or something similar. However, you enjoy your whisky or whiskey it is all down to personal choice but knowing the differences between the drinks might point you in the right direction.