Irish Whiskey vs. Scotch: What’s the Difference?

by Michael
Irish Whiskey

Have you ever been in the store and looked at the different whiskey bottles and didn’t know which one to buy? Or you didn’t know what Whiskey to order in a bar thinking that they’re all the same.

Let me tell you the truth: all the whiskeys are not the same. And in this article, I will reveal the main difference between one of the most used types of Whiskey: Irish and Scotch.

I will compare their flavor profiles, ingredients, and other vital features to clarify their differences, so let’s begin.

What’s Irish Whiskey?

There are many types of Whiskey, all made with fermenting grain mash. Various grains like barley, rye, corn, and wheat are used to make different types of Whiskey. The Whiskey is distilled from these malted grains and aged in oak or sherry casks for a few years to decades.

Irish Whiskey, also known as the father of all Whiskey, was first produced in Ireland in the 13th  century. It’s one of the world’s most known types of Whiskey that must be aged for at least three years. Irish Whiskey is usually made from unmalted barley combined with grain whiskey and is typically triple distilled.

However, there are also single malted too. Depending on the type of grain used for the production of the Irish Whiskey and the distillation process, there are different types of Irish Whiskey. Single malt Irish Whiskey, Single pot still Whiskey, Blended Irish Whiskey, Grain Irish Whiskey, Single grain Irish Whiskey, and Potcheen.

Irish Whiskey has a smooth, light, sweet, fruity,  slightly spicy flavor with hints of cereal grain and vanilla. If the Irish Whiskey is aged longer, it will also have lovely oak and caramel hints. It’s a versatile drink served straight, on the rocks, in various cocktails and other warm and cold beverages. 

Best Irish Whiskey You Can Buy

There are various brands of Irish Whiskey you can buy to enjoy in their taste. You can choose between some of the most popular like Jameson, Connemara, Bushmills, Green Spot, Sexton, Teeling, Slane, The Irishman, Redbreast, and Tyrconnell.

Jameson

Jameson is malt whiskey triple distilled and aged in oak barrels for at least four years. It’s a blend of grain and single-pot still whiskeys; therefore, it has a light flavor and is an excellent choice for beginners. Jameson is easy and smooth to drink with a floral, sweet flavor and hints of vanilla, caramel, and citrus. 

Connemara

Connemara is a  peated single malt whiskey with a pleasantly smoky aroma and sweet, smooth flavor with hints of vanilla, dried fruits, and honey. It’s a well-balanced whiskey that is best to drink neat to enjoy its wonderful flavor.

Bushmills

Bushmills is triple distilled from malted barley and blended with light grain whiskey. It has a rich, sweet, citrus flavor with vanilla, spicy, and oak hints. This Whiskey is made in the oldest whiskey distillery in the world-Old Bushmills Distillery.

The Irishman

The Irishman is a high-quality single malt Irish whiskey. It’s triple distilled and aged in ex-oak and ex-sherry casks, giving a distinctive flavor to this Whiskey. Its flavor is slightly sweet with hints of dried fruit, caramel, and vanilla.

Redbreast

Redbreast is one of the best single-pot still whiskeys made from unmalted and malted barley. It’s triple distilled and aged for at least nine years. Redbreast has well balanced, rich flavor with hints of fruits, toasted wood, and spices.

Whisky

What’s Scotch?

Scotch is produced in Scotland from malted barley or grains. This spirit must be made in Scotland to be labeled as a Scotch.

Scotland has five regions where Scotch is produced: Highlands, Campbeltown, Speyside, Lowlands, and Islay.

All Scotch made in these regions has a unique and distinctive flavor representing that particular region. Usually, Scotch is double distilled and has a smoky, earthy flavor. It’s aged in oak casks for three or more years. There are five types of Scotch-single grain, single malt, blended grain, blended malt, and blended Scotch.

Irish Whiskey vs. Scotch: 4 Key Differences

Irish Whiskey and Scotch are two popular types of spirit, and they have the unique characteristics they are well known for.

Each of these spirits is produced in a different country and has a different flavor profile. But other things make these spirits different from one other.

The first thing you will notice on a bottle of Whiskey is how they are spelled. Scotch is usually spelled as whisky, while Irish Whiskey is spelled as Whiskey.

Let’s see what the more significant differences between these spirits are.

1. Country of origin

Irish Whiskey is produced in Ireland, and there are some essential requirements that a whisky needs to fulfill so it can be labeled as Irish Whiskey.

Irish Whiskey needs to be distilled and matured in Ireland for at least three years in oak casks and has at least 40%ABV.

Scotch must be distilled and matured in Scotland for at least three years in oak casks and has at least 40% ABV.

2. Ingredients

Irish Whiskey is usually made from unmalted barley combined with grain whiskey and is typically triple distilled. But there are also single malts too. 

Scotch is made from malted barley or grains.  

3. Distillation and aging

Irish Whiskey is triple distilled, while Scotch is usually double distilled. Therefore, Irish Whiskey has a smoother, lighter flavor compared to Scotch. Both Irish Whiskey and Scotch are aged for more than three years

4. Flavor

Irish Whiskey has a smooth, light, sweet, fruity, slightly spicy flavor with hints of cereal grain and vanilla. If the Irish Whiskey is aged longer, it will also have lovely oak and caramel hints.

Scotch has a smoky, earthy flavor that is fuller and heavier than the Irish Whiskey flavor. The distillation process, the type of the casks, and aging time also affect the Irish Whiskey and Scotch flavor.

Irish Whiskey vs. Scotch: Comparison Chart

Let’s see the main differences between Irish Whiskey and Scotch presented with a comparison chart.

Key Differences Irish Whiskey Scotch
Country of Origin Ireland Scotland
Ingredients Unmalted barley combined with grain whiskey Malted barley or grains
Distillation and aging Triple distilled, aged at least three years Double distilled, aged at least three years
Flavor Smooth, light, sweet, fruity, slightly spicy Smoky, earthy, fuller, heavier

Is Irish Whisky Better Than Scotch?

Irish Whiskey and Scotch are both excellent, depending on your taste preferences. That means it’s your personal choice which one you are going to use.

Remember that Irish Whiskey is triple distilled, while Scotch is double distilled, significantly affecting their final flavor. Therefore, go with Irish Whiskey if you want to drink a smoother whiskey with a lighter flavor.

However, if you prefer the smoky, earthy, and heavier flavor, Scotch is the proper whisky for you. But whoever you choose, you will be drinking one of the most known types of whisky with distinctive flavors. 

Is Irish Whiskey More Like Bourbon or Scotch?

Irish Whiskey is more like bourbon but doesn’t have the same flavor as bourbon. The two drinks are both different spirits that have their characteristic flavors.

Bourbon is made in the USA with at least 51% of corn and other grains like barley, rye, and wheat. To provide a good quality bourbon, it’s double distilled and aged in new oak casks for 4-7 years.

Bourbon has vanilla, oak, and caramel flavor and is served neat, on the rocks, or mixed into cocktails. Bourbon has a richer and sweeter flavor than Irish Whiskey. 

In comparison, Irish Whiskey has a light, fruity, sweet, and slightly spicy flavor.

Is Jameson a Scotch or Whiskey?

Jameson is an Irish Whiskey. It’s not a Scotch because Scotch is produced in Scotland. This is one of the most popular whiskeys and an excellent choice for beginners.

Jameson is malt whiskey triple distilled and aged in oak casks for at least four years. It’s a blend of grain and single pot still Whiskey; therefore, it has a light flavor and great texture.

Jameson is easy and smooth to drink with a floral, sweet flavor and hints of vanilla, caramel, and citrus.

There are different types of Jameson like Jameson Irish Whiskey, Jameson Caskmates Stout Edition, Jameson Caskmates IPA Edition, Jameson Black Barrel, Jameson Cold Brew, Jameson Crested, and Jameson 18 years old.

It’s served neat and on rocks. However, it’s also used as a cocktails ingredient.

Wrap Up

The two popular spirits, Irish Whiskey and Scotch are made in different countries. And although they’re different in many things, they’re still the most known types of whiskies worldwide.

I hope that this article helped you better understand the differences between Irish Whiskey and Scotch. So the next time you want to buy a spirit, you will know what to choose.

But if you can’t decide which one to choose, you can try both and see which one is more to your taste: Irish Whiskey or Scotch. You can share your experience with us in the comment section below.

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