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What are the Different Types of Whiskey? (2022 Updated)

Last Updated on October 11, 2022 by Lydia Martin

Whiskey is a popular drink with a broad category. Every category has its own unique character and flavor profile. As there are a lot of varieties and brands to choose from, knowing more about your booze is important in choosing something that suits your palate. 

However, what are the different types of whiskey? Keep scrolling as we walk you through the various types of whiskey you must know about.

10 Different Whiskey Types You Must Know About

10. Japanese Whisky

Japanese Whisky

How It Tastes: It has a delicate taste and complex flavor profile. It has smoky notes.

Alcohol Content: 40% ABV

Production Process: A mash of malted barley or fermented grain is distilled in traditional or Coffey stills, and then the spirit is aged for at least three years.

Age Statement: At least three years

Quick Description: Japanese whisky is a type of whiskey that’s typically distilled from either barley, wheat, or sugarcane and then aged in wooden casks. Japanese whisky mimics the flavor of Scotch. If you want to drink whiskey, which is excellent for cocktails, Japanese whisky can be your right choice.

9. Canadian Whisky

Canadian Whisky

How It Tastes: It’s light and smooth because it contains a high percentage of corn. However, it is less flavorful than American whiskey.

Alcohol Content: at least 40% ABV

Production Process: A base whiskey and a flavoring whiskey is needed to create the spirit. Whiskey distillers combine the base whiskey and the flavoring whiskey to make the final product. 

Age Statement: At least three years

Quick Description: Canadian whisky is a type of whisky distilled from a fermented mash of grains such as corn, rye, wheat, and barley. Canadian whisky has no requirements on what type of barrel to use. “Rye” is the common term for Canadian Whisky. It may contain caramel coloring and flavoring.

8. Tennessee Whiskey

Tennessee Whiskey

How It Tastes: It tastes similar to bourbon. It’s slightly sweeter and has a smokey flavor due to the additional charcoal filtering.

Alcohol Content: no higher than 80% ABV

Production Process: The production process is similar to bourbon. However, the distillation process includes filtering through sugar maple charcoal.

Age Statement: No minimum age requirement.

Quick Description: Tennessee whiskey is a type of whiskey made with at least 51% corn as the main ingredient. Distillers filter Tennessee whiskey through maple charcoal chunks before barrel aging. 

The step is called the Lincoln County process. Jack Daniels is an example of a Tennessee whiskey that uses the Lincoln County process. But is Tennessee whiskey also bourbon?

7. Single Malt Whisky

Single Malt Whisky

How It Tastes: Single malt Scotch is aromatic with hints of honey. Scotch drinkers can also taste smoky peat flavors.

Alcohol Content: 40% ABV

Production Process: Single malt whisky is produced by distilling the fermented mash of cereal grains, such as barley or rye. It is made in a pot still and distilled twice.

Age Statement: At least three years

Quick Description: Single malt Scotch whisky is a type of whisky made only with malted barley, yeast, and water. However, in America, single malt whisky can be made from a rye mash instead of barley. Single grain whisky or single malts are also made at a single Scottish distillery.

6. Bourbon Whiskey

Bourbon Whiskey

How It Tastes: The bourbon taste is sweet like caramel. It has hints of smoke due to the charred oak barrel where it was aged.

Alcohol Content: 40% alcohol

Production Process: The whiskey production process starts by grinding the grain, then adding water and yeast. The mixture is cooked until the starch turns into sugar. Next, it is fermented for about two days before being distilled twice.

Age Statement: Straight bourbon must be aged for two years [1].

Quick Description: Bourbon is distilled from a mash bill of at least 51% corn and aged in new, charred new oak barrels. To be marketed as a straight bourbon, it should contain no colorings, flavorings, or additives besides water. If the bourbon has an age statement on the label, the label must indicate the age of the youngest whiskey in the bottle. The age of the neutral grain spirit added should not be counted.

5. Blended Whiskey

Blended Whiskey

How It Tastes: Blended whiskies taste milder than single malts. They are sweet on the palate with hints of vanilla and candied fruit.

Alcohol Content: usually 40% ABV

Production Process: Two or more types of whiskies are mixed. They are returned to casks for the process of ‘marrying.’ The process allows the malts and grains to complete aging as a blended whisky.

Age Statement: At least three years

Quick Description: Blended malt whisky is a mixture of single malt whiskies and grain whiskies. Blended whiskeys create a flavor that cannot be achieved by just mixing two spirits from different distilleries. This whiskey is excellent for a cocktail and mixed drink. 

4. Rye Whiskey

Rye Whiskey

How It Tastes: It tastes spicy and a little less sweet.

Alcohol Content: no more than 80% ABV

Production Process: The production process for rye whisky starts with fermenting and distilling the mash, which is aged in new oak casks for two years or more before it can be labeled as such. The distilling process is similar to that of bourbon.

Age Statement: two or more years

Quick Description: It is made from at least 51% rye. The remainder of the mash typically consists of corn, malted barley, and sometimes other grains such as wheat or oats. “Straight rye whiskey” refers to whiskey aged two more years and has not been blended.

Read: Our Favorite Rye Whiskeys For Old Fashioned

3. Scotch Whisky

Scotch Whisky

How It Tastes: It has a distinctive smoky, sometimes sweet, and earthy flavor.

Alcohol Content: usually 40% ABV or 43% ABV

Production Process: A Scotch whisky must be matured in oak casks for at least three years before it can be called Scotch whisky. Its whisky production and fermentation process also require the distillery to use peat-smoked coal.

Age Statement: at least three years

Quick Description: Scotch whisky is a type of whiskey made from malted barley, yeast, and water. Scottish malt whiskeys from Scottish distilleries are Single Malt, Blended Malt, Single Grain, Blended Grain, and Blended Scotch. It is made from malted barley at a single distillery.

2. Irish Whiskey

Irish Whiskey

How It Tastes: The Irish whiskey is smooth and tastes less sweet than bourbon.

Alcohol Content: 40% ABV

Production Process: Irish whiskey is traditionally distilled three times in a copper pot, unlike the double distillation process in Scotland. After distillation, the Irish whiskey is diluted with water to lower its alcohol content and aged in an oak barrel for three years.

Age Statement: 3 years

Quick Description:  Irish whiskeys are made from malted barley, unmalted barley, maize, and rye. It is the type of whiskey that should be distilled using water and caramel coloring. The Irish whiskey goes through the distillation process three times and is aged in wooden casks.

1. American Whiskey

American Whiskey

How It Tastes: It tastes sweeter than Irish and Scotch whisky. It also has a less smoky flavor. 

Alcohol Content: bottled at 50% ABV

Production Process: American whiskey is a distilled spirit made from fermented grain mash. It is produced in the United States and typically distilled at 80% alcohol by volume (ABV) but must be bottled to 50% ABV.

Age Statement: 2 years

Quick Description: American whiskey is a type of whiskey distilled from a fermented mash of cereal grains.

4 Different Types of American Whiskey

4 Different Types of American Whiskey

1. Bourbon

Bourbon is created from a mixture of corn, barley, and rye. It must be aged at least two years to qualify as bourbon. Bourbon must also contain at least 51% corn to be called bourbon. Bourbon must also be made in the United States [2].

2. Tennessee Whiskey

Jack Daniel's 10 year Tennessee Whiskey

It is a type of whiskey made from at least 51% corn, with the remainder being malted barley and rye. It can be distilled not to exceed 160 proofs (80% alcohol). It must be aged in new, charred oak barrels for two years.

3. Bottle-In-Bond

Bottled-in-bond is a term used to describe the strict standards set by the United States government for whiskey made in America. To be labeled as bottled-in-bond, it must be aged for at least four years, have at least 100 proof (50% alcohol), and come from one distillery.

There are three types of whiskey labeled bottled-in-bond: straight whiskey, blended whiskey, and rye whiskey. 

4. Rye Whiskey

Pikesville Straight Rye Whiskey

At least 51% rye in the mash bill is needed to make rye whiskey. Rye whiskeys have spicy flavor notes different from bourbon. The flavor comes from the rye grain, usually aged for two years to achieve its color and complex flavor profile.

8 Various Whiskey Styles

8 Various Whiskey Styles

1. Straight Whiskey

Straight whiskeys are made from a mash of grains distilled to no more than 160 proof and aged in new, charred wood barrels for at least two years. The “straight” designation refers to the fact that they are not blended with other spirits. 

2. Single Malt Whiskey

Yamazaki Single Malt Whisky

Single malt whisky is produced at a single distillery by one distiller or made from a mash of only malted grain, like the barley. The term “single malt” or “single grain” distinguishes it from blends of whiskies.

3. Malt Whiskey

Malt whiskey is a type of whiskey that is made from malted barley. The process of distilling malt starts with barley being mashed, which breaks down starch into sugar for fermentation. The fermented liquid becomes beer, which becomes malt whisky after it’s distilled twice and aged in wood barrels for three years.

4. Bourbon Whiskey

Early Times Bourbon Whisky

Bourbon originated in the United States. It is a type of whiskey made from a mixture of grains such as corn, rye, and barley. It’s often drunk straight or mixed with other drinks like cola or ginger ale. Its mash bill contains at least 51% corn. 

It should be distilled not to exceed 160 proofs and aged for at least two years in new oak barrels. These barrels should be charred on the inside. 

5. Rye Whiskey

Rye whiskey is a type of whiskey produced in the United States. Unlike bourbon, which is made from at least 51% corn in the mash bill, rye whiskey is distilled from a fermented mash bill of at least 51% rye. It is also aged in wooden casks for at least two years.

It is the third most popular type of whiskey in the United States, after bourbon and corn whiskey. The production methods are similar to those used in making bourbon, with some variations. It typically has a distinctive spicy flavor due to its high rye content.

6. Corn Whiskey

Abasolo Corn Whiskey

Corn whiskey is a type of whiskey that is made primarily from corn. Like other whiskeys, corn whiskey is made by distilling fermented grain mash. The main difference between corn whiskey and other whiskeys is that the mash for corn whiskey must be at least 80% corn. 

Corn whiskey should be distilled to no more than 160 proof and aged in new, charred oak containers.

7. Light Whiskey

Light whiskey is a type of whiskey that has an alcohol content not exceeding 80% ABV. It is also known as “White Whiskey.”

Light whiskey is made from corn, wheat, and barley grains. These grains are distilled and then aged for a shorter period than other types of whiskey.

8. Wheat Whiskey

Bernheim Wheat Whiskey

Wheat whiskey is a distilled alcoholic beverage made from a fermented mash of cereal grains, primarily wheat. The rest of the mash can be corn, barley, or rye. It’s distilled to no more than 160 proof and aged in new charred oak barrels. 

The flavor of wheat whiskey is described as light, clean, and crisp, with very little sweetness and an almost dry finish.

FAQS

What is the most expensive whiskey?

The Isabelle’s Islay is the most expensive whiskey because its decanter has 8,500 diamonds and 300 rubies inlaid into white gold. The whiskey decanter alone costs $6,000,000.

What’s the smoothest type of whiskey?

Scotch Whisky is the smoothest type of whiskey. One example of Scotch whisky that many consider the Best Single Malt in the World is the Laphroaig 10 Year Old. It’s smooth and has a smoke flavor.

In A Nutshell

The word whiskey describes a distilled alcoholic beverage made from fermented grain mash. The two most popular grains used are barley and rye. Grain whiskeys are made of a mixture of these two grain types. Grain whiskey typically has a lighter taste and lower alcohol content than other types of whiskey.

There are different types of whiskey, like Canadian Whisky, Japanese Whisky, and Bourbon whiskey, with different characteristics, flavors, and aromas even when they are from the same distillery.

References:

  1. https://www.mensjournal.com/food-drink/whiskey-age-statement-bottle-meaning/
  2. https://www.britannica.com/topic/bourbon-whiskey

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